Chikankari is also known as Lucknowi Chikan, Lucknow Chikankari, or Chikan Embroidery. Lucknow has been the centre of manufacturing exquisite Chikan craftsmanship for over 200 years.
Chikankari is one-of-a-kind hand embroidery that cannot be reproduced, with its uniqueness going far beyond other embroidery techniques and a vast range of stitching methods.
This traditional embroidery style is one of Lucknow’s most ancient and well-known art forms, introduced by the Mughals. The collapse of the Mughal court resulted in a significant loss of artisans and industry. Thus, it was afterwards patronised by Nawabs. Most clothing is stitched first and then embroidered, although things such as suit material, skirts, chikankari saree , and table linen, among others, are embroidered first and then finished. More than 5000 families are involved in the Chikankari embroidery industry, living in and around Lucknow’s remote villages.
Chikankari was initially done on fabrics such as Muslin and Mulmul, commonly known as “Tanzeb.” Still, due to the expanding fashion industry, it is usually done on silk, nets, georgette, cotton, chiffon etc.
Coloured fabric and threads are utilised in addition to the white foundation cloth. Silk and cotton threads are used for embroidered work on drapes, dupattas, table linen, and kurtas. Chikankari is mainly done on cotton, although it may also be done on mulls/malmal, maslins, organzas, and polyester. Chiffon, viscose, georgette, polyester georgette, cotton crepe, and net are a few more. The patterns vary monthly to reflect market trends, with colours that complement the season.
The classic muslin material on which the craft was founded has since given way to lighter textiles like cotton, silk, chiffon, organza, and net. The goal is to choose a lightweight fabric that not only facilitates the embroidery process much more accessible (the needle can glide through without much resistance) but also helps the work stand out on its own.
The art may be found in various men’s and women’s clothing. Everything from a long kurta to a saree, Anarkali, palazzos, and even a variety of accessories and home décor goods such as mood lighting, cushion and table coverings, and bed wraps is available.
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