CHIKANKARI- NAWABI ART
The technique known as Chikankari is an ancient art, which is believed to have originated around 400 years back. This delicate and beautiful work of hand embroidery was born in the area that we know today as Lucknow, and to date, this is where you can find the best artisans and the most intricate work!
Lucknow - the city of gardens, palaces and architectural monuments! This is the land of the nawabs, a land that has been synonymous with cultural heritage, social warmth and an unending love for luxury. This luxury can be seen not only in the buildings, but also in their food and of course their sense of fashion.
Said to have been influenced by the style of the nawabs of Lucknow and their spouses, Chikankari flaunts grace and elegance in a very subtle and pleasant manner.
The origin of Chikan work is shrouded in mystery, because there is no clear proof as to when this form of embroidery was actually born. While some historians are of the opinion that it emerged during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya, around 3rd century AD, there are others who are of the opinion that it originated in the 17th century, during the reign of Mughal emperor Jahangir. Noor Jahan, the wife of Jahangir, was believed to be a talented embroiderer, with a particular fondness for Chikan. There are stories in the pages of history that tell tales of how she impressed Jahangir with this intricate floral embroidery. As a matter of fact, he was so pleased with her work, that he soon gave it recognition and royal patronage. Workshops were established all over the kingdom to practice and perfect this form of embroidery.
During the Mughal Empire this technique flourished, but after the downfall of the empire, the craftsmen scattered all over India. Some even went to West Bengal and for a while chikan work flourished there, although it is no longer practiced there. And then there were some craftsmen who found homes in the state of Awadh. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the art received a lot of patronage from the then governor of Awadh, Burhan Ul Malk, because of whom the art still thrives. It could be his influences from Persia (his homeland) that Chikankari derived much inspiration. Even today, you can see Persian influences in the motifs that are used in the intricate art form.
The process of bringing a Chikankari fabric to life has mainly three stages:
Printing – The first step is the printing of the design onto the fabric, giving the artists the blueprint they require. The printing is done using wooden blocks and stamps. Because chikanwork is normally done on lighter coloured fabrics, blue colour is used for the printing, but these days, darker colour fabrics are also being used, for which lighter coloured ink provides the lines for the embroiderer to follow.
Embroidery—Once printing is complete, the delicate work of embroidery starts. The entire task is completed one patch at a time – a small portion of the cloth is set within a frame and the intricate needle work starts. Different stitches are used to get the entire fabric completed, and the type of stitch to be used is often dependent on the size and type of the motif that has been printed.
Washing – When the embroidery is completed, it is given a gentle wash to remove the printing lines. Quite often, starch is applied to give it the desired stiffness, but this step is skipped if the fabric is not cotton or cotton based.
There are several varieties of stitches used in Chikankari, which give it a very beautiful and delicate look. To know more about Chikankari stitches keep reading our blogs and to find the best deals on Chikankari outfits, visit byshree.com.