Chikankari: A future of glory and glamour!!!

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Rooted in antiquity, Chikankari has its origin shrouded in mystery and legend. Chikankari, often shortened as Chikan has come a long way from the City of Nawabs to the advance and fashion forward metro cities. It is an elegant style of hand embroidery which has successfully carved a niche for itself in tinsel town as well as in the glamorous cinema world. It lends itself to a variety of hand chosen fabric- from the royal Georgettes to casual Cotton, Chiffon and Silk. The versatility of the Chikan wear is truly unparalleled. Whether it’s a simple college girl look or a very glamorous and stylish red carpet look, this handicraft has managed to create a stunning appearance that can make every head turn. The Chikan wear suits a range of occasions from office wear and casual day to grand weddings and formal parties.

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  • Where is it made?

One can find the authentic Chikankari work in the City of Lucknow. It is surprising to know that even today an estimate of 5000 families are involved in the manufacturing of Chikan clothes. The complete production ecosystem basically comprises of expert designers who work day and night to conceptualise new designs comprising of numerous patterns and motifs.

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Once the designed is finalised, it is forwarded to the block makers who are specialised in the art of carving and chiselling blocks. The hand carved blocks are used for marking elaborate patterns for this outstanding artistry. Indian artisans prefer to use flowing design rather than the stiffly formal Persian design.

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Then comes the most significant part of the production process. The artisans perform intricate task of embroidery on the designs using special threads of various shades. This work is mostly done by the women artisans. Once the embroidery is done, cutter and tailor are responsible for the styling. Last but not the least, washer men plays a pivotal role in offering the final finish. A perfectly design piece can be damaged if the washing is done poorly. Every stage in the product of an exquisite Chikankari piece is crucial and can’t be taken lightly.

  • Where is it used?

Chikankari is extensively used for designing sarees, kurtis, anarkalis and suits. It is often used as shirts and semi formal kurtas for men. Chikan sarees are perfect for both traditional and modern settings. With the going evolution, the designers have started using this majestic handwork for creating curtains and elegant drapes. One can even find footwear, designer women handbags and clutches featured with symmetrical floral motifs, paisleys and royal regalia of Persian designs.

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The humble journey of art form which was started centuries ago has now gained an international platform. This art form is a very intrinsic part of Lucknowi culture and grace which depicts the legacy and way of life of the artisans. With the ever growing global demand, chikankari have made major inroads in the US, European and UAE markets. It serves as an evidence for glorious past and bright future of Chikan handicraft.

-by Shagufa Sheikh

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