The History & Evolution An integral part of Indian culture since 655 AD Chikan Kari was strongly rekindled by Moghul queen Noor Jehan in later date. It not only enjoyed patronization of the Moguls but also attained perfection as the exquisite needlework and hand work underwent further honing and refinement. Admired the world over today, the art has trickled into every section of fashion world and every part of India–thanks to the contribution of different forms of medium like films and fashion shows.
Inhibition and its elimination But despite the global acclaims its the place with strong Sulatni history, Lucknow, that has still sustained an unrivaled supremacy in producing the finest Chikan in India. Despite the long alliance between Bollywood and Chikan Kari there was a recurring problem to contend with until few years back. Keen on preserving the originality and preventing it from suffering a dilution to the market forces, the torchbearers of the couture, the craftsmen based in Lucknow, were reluctant to alter it according to the needs of the organized fashion world and tinsel town. But lately-courtesy the exposure and thus ascendance in market demand that some of the big opulent commercial successes like Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, Hum Saath Saath Hain, Mughal-e-Azam, Pakeeza, Zubeida and many more have ensured–there is a new found accommodative and adaptive attitude to be found among the hitherto conservationist craftsmen. The change in attitude and a sense of professionalism among the younger generation of chikankari workers have made them an indispensable property in the Bombay fashion mart as well as the colourful world of dream makers–Bollywood.
Stitches of Chikankari:
The basic stitches are six in number and all except one are common to other forms of embroidery.
1.Tepchi is a long running or darning stitch worked with six strands on the right side of the fabric taken over four threads and picking up one. Thus, a line is formed. It is used principally as a basis for further stitchery and occasionally to form a simple shape.
2. Bakhiya, double back or shadow stitch in chikan work is done from the wrong side of the fabric and the design is rendered in the herringbone style. The shadow of the thread is seen through the cloth on the right side.
3. Hool is a fine detached eyelet stitch. Herein, a hole is punched in the fabric and the threads are teased apart. It is then held by small straight stitches all round and worked with one thread on the right side of the fabric. It can be worked with six threads and often forms the center of a flower.
4. Zanzeera is a small chain stitch worked with one thread on the right side of the fabric. Being extremely fine, it is used to finally outline the leaf or petal shapes after one or more outlines have already been worked.
5. Rahet is a stem stitch worked with six threads on the wrong side of the fabric. It forms a solid line of back stitch on the right side of the fabric and is rarely used in its simple form but is common in the double form of dohra bakhiya as an outlining stitch.
6. Banarsi stitch has no European equivalent and is a twisted stitch worked with six threads on the right side of the fabric. Working from the right across about five threads a small stitch is taken over about two threads vertically. The needle is reinserted halfway along and below the horizontal stitch formed and is taken out about two threads vertically on the right above the previous stitch.
7. Khatau is similar to Bakhia, but finer and is a form of applique. In Khatau, the design is prepared on calico material. That is placed over the surface of the final fabric and then paisley and floral patterns are stitched on to it.
8. Phanda and Murri are the forms of stitches used to embroider the centre of the flowers in ordinary chikan work motifs. They are typically French knots, with murri being rice-shaped and phanda millet-shaped.
9. Jali stitch is the one where the thread is never drawn through the fabric, ensuring that the back portion of the garment looks as impeccable as the front. The warp and weft threads are carefully drawn apart and minute buttonhole stitches are inserted into the cloth.
10. Turpai and Darzdari are also significant stitches in chikan work. Turpai should have an effect of a thin thread. Darzdari have several varieties, the popular ones are Kohidarz, Kamal darz, Shankarpara darz, Muchii and Singbhada darz.
11. The various other types of legendary chikankari stitches are: Pechani, Bijli, Ghaspatti, Makra, Kauri, Hathkadi, Banjkali, Sazi, Karan, Kapkapi, Madrazi, Bulbul-chasm, Taj Mahal, Janjeera, Kangan, Dhania- patti, Rozan, Meharki, Chanapatti, Baalda, Jora, Keel kangan, bulbul, sidhaul, ghas ki patti etc. Drifting apart from the original pristine setting, the tone-on-tone embroidery is in vogue these days. The significant use of beads, sequin and mokaish (white flat silver strip embroidery) have gained wide acceptance. Fabric In addition to the white base fabric, colored fabrics and threads are also used. Silk and cotton threads are employed for embroidery work on sarees, dupattas, table linen and kurtas. Cotton being the most preferred choice, chikankari is also done on mulls, muslins, voiles, organzas and polyester. Some more include: chiffon, viscose, georgette, polyester georgette, cotton crepe and net. The designs change every other month, as per the market trends, with colors that perfectly match with the season.
How New Designs are Created
The overview of Traditional Chikan Work Chikankari has been the delicate and traditional embroidery practiced in Lucknow and its environs. Chikan is a unique craft involving delicate and artistic hand embroidery on a variety of textile fabrics like cotton, muslin, silk, chiffon, organdy, organza and doriya. There are 36 types of stitches used in chikan work ever since its origin. The source of the most motifs in chikankari is Mughal. Though it originated as the court craft, today it is a practiced tradition and an important commercial activity. Various designers have tried giving in new dimension to the chikan work by incorporating new techniques, styles and designs.
Timeless, Classic – that’s chikan embroidery of Lucknow! Chikan Work in Indian Fashion arena has come a long way. This living craft tradition has seen vicissitudes but remains rooted in the city of origin. Various designers have transformed chikan into ethnic dress so much so that, chikan work and fabric, traditionally a summer collection has become a winter couture as well. Chikan work is no more confined to traditional Salwaar Kameez, Kurta Pajama and Sarees, but is a delight to wear and watch in almost all kinds of western wear like funky tops, designer kurtas, enticing skirts, etc.
The Innovations and Experimentations in Chikan Work The color selection for chikan has undergone a change tremendously. Out went the voiles and mulmuls and the pastel shades and came georgettes, tussars and silk that exhibit the Chikan Work in symphony with the traditional and western designs and styles. It’s not just chikan work on fabrics like cotton, but experimentation, the order of the day, has enhanced basic chikan with more detailing- with zardozi, crystals and so on.
The refinement of taste The various occasions on which chikan work forms the usual code has witnessed lot of changes. Now chikan is no more a casual wear but is also found in a wide variety of formal wears. Be it any kind of gathering amongst the ‘young’ & ‘restless’ and chikan is the most selective style. Now that chikan has a designer stamp and has lit up the lamp, it is been increasingly seen on college campuses and in offices too. Bright fruity color with white embroidery over singlets are very popular with collegians. Chikan work is also showcased in item that enhances your home décor. Items like tablecloth, napkins are beautified gorgeously with the use of chikan work..