Krafts of India

The mesmerizing art of Chikankari

posted by Nikhil Chowdhary August 23, 2016 0 comments

The exquisite art of Chikankari is an old form of floral art embroidery, made with a detailed work of needle and thread. A stand out and gorgeous art form that has left several people captivated with its outstanding aesthetic appeal. In the centuries gone by, this detailed white tracery on transparent fabric has charmed the personalities such as kings all the way to the general public. It is based and widely practised in the heart of Northern India, namely the capital city of the largest state of Uttar Pradesh, i.e., Lucknow. This art form has survived the loss facilitated because of commercialization and lost its way sometimes in being deemed average and yet managed to keep its glamour alive. These facts stand as testimony to the skill and tireless efforts of the artisans who have facilitated this technique over the generations gone by. In today’s day and age, this art form is widely known and practised in the city of Lucknow.

chikankari 3

Lucknow is a beautiful ancient city, known for its beautifully built palaces, finely constructed mosques, charming temple designs and ageing monuments. A city known as the Constantinople of the East, largely favoured by European voyagers at a point in time. It is perfectly in line with architectural tastes, polished culture, social acceptance and limitless love for good living.

chikankari 2

The city of Lucknow is potentially at the centre of a very alluring, extremely aesthetic form of white floral embroidery. An art that is extremely unique to this place, Chikankari art has been religiously practiced in Lucknow for almost more than two entire centuries. But its initial roots did not originate from Lucknow. It flourished in the Mughal courts of Delhi in the 16th and 17th centuries up until the empire disintegrated and the craftsmen scattered across the expanse of the subcontinent. Some of these craftsmen came and settled comfortably in Lucknow. This is how this art form was initially conceived and consolidated its roots.

How is Chikankari made?

The process employed in the creation of a chikan work is better known as chikankari. Chikankari is an intricate and tastefully facilitated hand embroidery that is performed on a variety of textile fabric like silk, chiffon, muslin and much more. The white threading is woven on sleek, cotton garments and pastel shades of muslin that are light in colour. In today’s day and age, Chikan embroidery is also crafted with coloured threads in order to keep up with the fashion trends. As already mentioned above, Lucknow is the nerve centre of the chikankari industry today and the variety is better known as Lucknawi chikan.
Chikan work in the recent times has adapted and added assortments like Badla, Kamdani, Mukaish, sequin, bead and mirror work, which gives it a richer and more refined appeal. This art is mostly performed on fabrics like cotton, georgette, chiffon, silk and other fabrics which are light and bring out the beauty of this embroidery. The fabric needs to be thin enough for the embroidery needle to be able to puncture through it.
The detailed process commences with a pattern block (more if needed) that is utilized to block-print a pattern on the basic fabric. The embroiderer stitches the pattern on it and the finished piece is thoroughly washed to remove any traces of the printed bit of the pattern. The process of chikankari involves a few basic steps like designing, engraving, block printing, stitching embroidery and finally rinsing and finishing touches.

Chikankari 4

Utilizing Chikankari in everyday life

Chikankari is quite a mesmerizing art form that has left us captivated with its simple yet unique glam quotient. It’s funny how an art form so basic and simple can have such a big impact on your entire get up. Let’s walk through how Chikankari has made its mark on the masses and how it can be worn in the perfect way.

chikankari 1

In the picture above, you can see the ever so beautiful Asha Bhosle, showing off her Chikankari embroidered saree at the Lakme Fashion week that’s really making her stand out. This type of Chikankari style can be worn gracefully at any formal event you may be attending.


In the picture above you can see, actor Deepika Padukone sporting a beautiful Anarkali with Chikankari work on it. This is such a beautiful piece that can be worn on a special occasion and not as your everyday attire. An eye grabbing look like this will leave you breathless by its unique style.

Chikankari may be an old art form but it’s definitely one of the most beautiful and appealing forms out there even today. It’s safe to say that it has adapted and grown even more beautiful as time has passed. An enchanting art form that evolved and matured over the centuries. Chikankari is truly a captivating art form that will be relished for many years to come!

Source – Pinterest
Disclaimer: All images belong to the respective owners & we do not claim any copyrights for any images

Leave a Comment