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Indian Embroidery > Indian Embroidery Styles > ChikanKari Embroidery

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Indian Embroidery ChikanKari Embroidery

ChikanKari Embroidery Chikankari was nurtured in Uttar Pradesh and primarily in Lucknow. The work is done on very fine muslin and now on georgette and chiffon and other fine fabrics. It is more suited for the outerwear but these days there are certain exclusive creations using Chikan work in Cushion covers, pillow covers and table linen. Partition curtains with the chikan embroidery are fast gaining ground.

History of Chikankari
Traditionally Chicknkari is the white thread embroidery done on the white muslin or mulmul. The word chikan comes from the Persian word Chakeen meaning making delicate patterns on the fabric.

The art is said to be introduced by Noorjahan the beautiful queen of Emperor Jahangir. She is said to be an expert in embroidery and inspired by the Turkish embroidery. According to Megasthenes, the chikan originated in East Bengal. He mentions chikan, the florals on fine muslins in 3rd century BC. The craftsmen believe that the origin goes back to the time of Prophet. It is believed that while he was passing through a village in Uttar Pradesh, he requested a villager for water. On being offered that, he gave the art of Chikankari to the poor villager as an art that will never let him go hungry.

Process and Stitches of Chikankari
Whatever be the origin, the intricacy and the patterns remind you of the fine marble carvings and jalis. Today the apart from the white muslin, light tinted fabrics are used. The thread is prefered white. The most commendable part of chikankari is the open work ground, an effect of drawn thread work is achieved without drawing out any.

The most common motif used is that of a creepers. Floral motifs may enrich the entire garment or just one corner. Among the floral motifs embroidered, the jasmine, rose, flowering stems, lotus and the paisley motif are the most popular.

There is simply no match for the shadow work involved in the chikan. In this the herringbone stitch or Bakhiya as called locally is worked on the wrong side of the cloth. Looking on the right side the effect is that of the shadows between the double running stitch. Another variation of shadow work is created by cutting the patterns in the same fabric as the base material and stitching it on the wrong side.

There are other stitches to give different stitches. The tiny raised flowers are made with stitches resembling French knots. The raised effect is evened off using the simple stem stitch called Rahet. Various effects can be created using a variety of stitches and combination. Mainly buttonhole stitch (Hool), running stitch, and chain stitch (Zanzeer) are used to give the fillers and yet not give it a cluttered appearance. The jali or the lattice created by the thread tension on the cloth is most remarkable.

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