WHAT IS CHIKANKARI? WHY IS CHIKANKARI FAMOUS?
This ancient art of hand embroidery dates back to the Mughal period and is believed to be introduced by Queen Noor Jahan. Lucknow takes pride of being the exclusive hub for chikankari embroidery and received the GI status for chikankari in December 2008. The art of chikankari is very labour-intensive and involves multiple stages of designing, engraving, block printing, embroidery, washing and finishing. It can take from few days to a month to finish an outfit.
The beauty of chikankari is that it involves 40 plus different types of stitches like murri, fanda, jaal, bakhiya, noori etc. The embroidery involves delicate flower and leaf motifs inspired from Mughal designs. Chikankari is usually done on lighter fabrics such as muslin, georgette, voile cotton etc to highlight the embroidery.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE AUTHENTIC CHIKANKARI
Various embroidery designs like hakoba a.k.a schiffli work and other machine embroidery designs are loosely referred to chikankari. But authentic Chikankari is the art of hand embroidery done exclusively in Lucknow. It’s a piece of heritage where every garment is as unique as a fingerprint. Flip over the garment and you’ll see the difference in an instant. Hand embroidered fabrics would have French knots, shadow stitches and criss-cross embroidery at the back whereas machine embroidery would not.
KNOW YOUR FABRICS
Soft Cotton – Cotton fabric which is soft and transparent
Mulmul Cotton– Soft, breathable and light cotton fabric especially suited for hot and humid weather.
Voile Cotton – Light and breathable thin cotton fabric. The thin fabric allows artisans to weave fine embroidery stitches. Transparent. Appears stiff at first but softens with every wash. Best quality of chikankari in terms of neatness and finesse can be found on this fabric.
Rayon – Soft and flowy fabric. Thicker fabric than cotton. Non transparent. Good for summers and light winter.
Modal- Finer and premium version of rayon. Blended with silk to give a shine. Lighter than rayon. Non transparent.
Georgette– thin and transparent synthetic fabric. This is one of the signature fabrics of Lucknowi kurtas as it allows for fine chikankari stitches and delicate intricate embroidery designs.
Viscose Georgette – is a premium version of georgette, also referred to as 60 grams pure georgette. Dyeable in any shade. Ideal for intricate chikanakari and embellishments. Very versatile and often embellished with gota patti or mukaish work for partywear outfits.