Elegance and beauty define this intricate embroidery that traces its origin to Lucknow. Chikankari, a popular ancient form of floral embroidery, inspired from the Mughal art, has been popular since Mughals ruled the country.
However, chikan art has become hot favourite of designers in last two years. From Manish Malhotra to Vineet Bahl, the designers have brought the chikankari on the ramp in their unique styles.
“Chikankari has become the fashion statement these days as it is not restricted to ethnic wear. It is widely used on western outfits starting from gowns to shorts and long dresses to skirts, that makes them look stunning and visually appealing,” says designer Gaurav Rai.
The word chikan is thought to be derived from a Persian word. Some say it is a Persian craft, while there are many who believe Mughal Empress Noor Jahan, wife of Emperor Jehangir, introduced chikankari and promoted and popularise this craft.
Though there are different views about its origin, chikankari is undoubtedly one of the most sort after form of embroidery because of the intricate designs. It has six basic stitches and over 35 other traditional stitches are used in various combinations. It includes phanda, zanzeera, jaali, bubul, chana patti, tepchi, ghaas patti, bakhiya, hath kadi, bijli, kharau, keel kangan, hool, rahet and banaarsi.
“Murri fanda gives a 3D look while ghaas patti and jaali work is the most intricate. Many artisans lose their eye sight years after practising this form of chikankari,” says Gaurav.
The pattern to be embroidered is stamped on the fabric with a wooden pattern block. It is coated with neel (indigo). The outlines of the designs are embroidered by these different stitches to give a sheer look to the fabric.
Besides this, chikankari on cotton also called as mulmul gives a soothing feel in summers. “Chikankari has always been in vogue. It had always been in demand among the classes but now has eventually trickled down to masses as well owing to the awareness of the rich cultural heritage of India and it’s easy availability in all price range,” says the designer.