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History of chikankari - Seven Sarees

History of chikankari


Actor Farooq Sheik loved Chikankari and wore it all his life. He had played a role in the story of a embroidery craftsman in a film in 1986.   During the shoot he found the patterns to be charming and adorable and  completely empathized with the creators of these delicate stitches of chikankari.

What is chikankari?

It literally means embroidery . This style uses 32 types of stitches on slightly thin pieces of cotton, chiffon and silk fabrics. The embroidery is done with white thread on gentle, pastel greens, pinks and yellows with white thread creating a gorgeous, yet sophisticated look. This work is done mostly in and around Lucknow and therefore this city has earned the Geographical Indication Status for Chikankari.

Where does it originate?

As early the third century B.C. there is a description of  ‘flowered muslins’ by Megasthenes, the renowned traveller. Some account say that the colourful embroidery we see today was popularised by Empress Noorjehan and that it was originally favoured by the royalty in ancient Persia. Another common lore tells us that this art was taught to a peasant by a traveller in exchange for drinking water.

Which are the distinct stitches of Chikankari?

Once the designs are drawn, the long run stitch used to form the lines and some simple shapes. The chain stitch is often used to form patterns, leaves and petals. Sometimes the stitches are done at the back of the fabric so that it appears like a ‘shadow’ in the front. Conversely, there are some stitches which do not pierce in to the cloth and remain invisible if you turn the garment inside out. A cute eye let is formed by punching a hole in the fabric and sewing designs around its edges. These make for the distinct patterns of Chikankari.

How has Chikankari adapted to modern trends?

In keeping with the latest trends and to stand out among competitors, Chikankari has evolved to include more colours, silk threads, and threads made out of silver, gold and other light metals. This makes for a glitter hitherto unfound in the staid Chikankari. Other glamorous additions such as stones, beads and sequins have found their way to the hands of the craftsman who work on new styles using a variety of materials.

Let us wait and watch how people respond to these innovations in this updated avatar of an ancient craft 

पिछला लेख Seven superb Banarasi styles
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