What is Chikankari? Facts about the new symbol of versatility.

what is chikankari embroidery

We have three basic needs to live. They are Food, Shelter and Clothing. Lets talk here about clothing. We need to wear something to cover our body. To protect our body from outside weather and also to cover ourselves. But now, clothing is one of the main thing we focus on. What, how and to when to wear is really necessary. We wear different clothes based on occasion and situation. From polyester to silk, to cotton, to woolen – we wear it all as it suits. Nowadays we have something different in fashion- Chikankari embroidery clothes. Its embraced not only by Indians but also by Western silhouettes. 

what is chikankari embroidery, fashion week

                                      Ramp walk at LIFW Summer Resort

What is Chikankari?

Birth of Chikankari:

Chikankari is a traditional embroidery style born in Lucknow, India. As per the facts, Nur Jahan introduced it. She was the wife of Mughal emperor Jahangir. Chikankari is actually a shadow work kind of embroidery. Besides, the story of Nur Jahan there are some more stories related to the history of Chikankari work in India. People say that once a traveler passing through a village in Lucknow stopped. He then requested a farmer for water to quench his thirst. The traveler was highly impressed by the hospitality shown towards him by the peasant. As he had nothing to give, the traveler taught him the art of Chikankari. He ensured the peasant that after learning this, he would never remain hungry in life.

History :

As per one version, the word Chikankari derives from a Persian word Chakin or Chakeen, which means creating delicate patterns on a fabric. According to others, it may be a distorted version of Chikeen or Siquin, a coin with a value Rs 4 for which the work was sold. One explanation ascribes this term to the East Bengal language, in which Chikan meant fine. Basically muslim people specialize in this stream. The legacy to do embroidery is passed on from the ancestors. 

Versatility of the cloth:

Chikankari is the pride of India. It has made India famous all over the world. The intrinsic art work is the real heartthrob. Its in different designs and styles. It is a symbol of rich, splendid dresses which people can wear in all seasons. Basically, Chikankari is embroidery on a cotton cloth with a special thread. It looks very beautiful and delicate. Therefore, it requires lot of perfection and hard work of the craftsmen. It is a long process with many steps.

Fashion has always been a repitition of ideas but what makes it unique is the way you put it togwther.


Steps involved:

  • Firstly, making the design
  • Secondly, engraving
  • Thirdly, block Printing
  • Fourthly, embroidery
  • Fifthly, washing and finishing


First of all a craftsman, makes design on the cloth to get an idea. Then, he puts thread in the special needle to do embroidery on the cloth. He fits the cloth in a round framework to make embroidery easy. Then craftsman holds the frame by one hand. With the other hand they do embroidery.

How is it done?

Usually same person does cutting and stitching . Then, they do printing with wooden blocks dipped in dye. After this, usually by both men and women can carry embroidery. Now omes the last step in the Chikankari embroidery , which is washing and finishing. It may take around 10 to 12 days and involves bleaching, acid treatment, stiffening and ironing. Different floral motifs, which are either the garment or in corners, include jasmine, rose, flowering stems, lotus, etc. In old days girls used to learn embroidery. At that time, it was mainly done by hands but now some machines are used in the work.

Chikankari styles

People do various styles of embroidery. It ranges from heavy to light ones. In Lucknow, there are whole markets selling different Chikankari items. Not only dresses but bed sheets, table clothes, cushion covers etc also have Chikankari. These days it is trending and loved by ladies. Hi-fi actress and college girls- all adore it. It gives you a somber, elegant, clean and decent look. Above all, it is comfortable to wear with affordable rates. My mother just loves it and so do I. You can see Dupattas, Skirts, frocks, sarees, kurtis, tops etc in Chikankari. It is suitable for people of all age. We can gift it to our grandmothers and make them happy.

So hey ladies, just go and grab Chikankari dresses and flaunt with grace!!

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