What Is Chikankari Embroidery? Know How To Identify A Pure One And Things To Keep In Mind Before Buying A Piece

What Is Chikankari Embroidery? Know How To Identify A Pure One And Things To Keep In Mind Before Buying A Piece

What Is Chikankari Embroidery? Know How To Identify A Pure One And Things To Keep In Mind Before Buying A Piece

June 19, 2024

Category: General

Country: India

Region: Asia

Story by Utsa Ganguly
• 4mo • 3 min read

Chikankari, originating from Lucknow, India, is a traditional embroidery style characterized by delicate and skillfully crafted handwork on various textile fabrics such as cotton, chanderi, muslin, georgette, viscose, silk, organza, net, and more. This art form involves the use of white thread on light muslin and cotton garments in cool, pastel shades. In modern times, chikan embroidery has evolved to include coloured and silk threads, adapting to current fashion trends and ensuring its relevance.

History Of Chikankari Embroidery:
The Mughals were connoisseurs of fine art and architecture and the delicate art of Chikanakari embroidery was one such art form that flourished during that time.

Talking about the origin, Aparna Thyagarajan, Co- founder and Chief product officer at Shobitam says: "The art of Chikankari has an emboss-like embroidery and is said to have its origins in Persia. This is evident from the generous usage of Persian motifs like paisleys, trellis, Jaao, and other distinct motifs that are found in Persian art."

"This intricate form of embroidery has several types of stitches including the free-form called tepchi to the highly refined hool that forms intricate jaalis. These complex patterns cater to varied fashion sensibilities and budgets. A white-on-white chikankari which has white embroidery on white fabric never goes out of demand," she adds.

Tips To Identify A Pure Chikankari:
Identifying a pure chikankari saree involves discerning between machine and hand-embroidered versions. Kshama Pandit, Fashion Designer and Founder of Kshama Pandit Couture explains the two styles.


She says: "Machine-made chikankari exhibits loose and less intricate stitches, often limited to a single stitch type due to computerised imaging. The reverse side may resemble hand embroidery, but the loose stitches make it prone to breakage. Mass production hinders customization of colour combinations." 


"In contrast, hand-embroidered chikankari is a meticulous craft involving wooden block printing and tying fabric to a frame. Authentic chikankari boasts a rich variety of stitches, with 32 types categorised into six major ones," she adds. 

Talking about the stiches she says: "Tepchi is a basic running stitch, while bakhia forms a criss-cross pattern. Murri creates texture, jaali results in a netted structure, and phanda comprises tiny dots filling spaces. Embellishments like pearls, beads, and cut dana enhance intricacy, and the use of pure cotton or silk threads contributes to quality."

Kshama finally explains the distinguishing factors between the two saying that the parameters include stitch intricacy, the continuity of knots on the fabric's reverse side, and overall quality. Authentic chikankari spans various fabrics, including silk, georgette, cotton, mul-mul, and viscose, offering a wide range of choices unparalleled by machine-made counterparts.


Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying Chikankari Outfits
•Chikankari has gained immense popularity in recent years. When buying Chikankari outfits, it is essential to consider a few crucial factors. Mehul Jain, the co-founder of Pareha lists the follwoing:
•Look for intricate hand-embroidered patterns that showcase the artistry of the craft.
•Pay attention to the fabric's quality and durability as well, opting for pure cotton or silk, which are ideal for Chikankari work.
•High-quality Chikankari outfits tend to be relatively more expensive, but they will be a smart and long-lasting investment in your wardrobe.
•Depending on how authentic your taste is, you can choose between handcrafted and machine-made clothing. Handcrafted pieces have a personal touch and bear the hallmark of authenticity. However, these might be on the more expensive side, while the machine-made outfits lack authenticity, but are more accessible in terms of prices. 

Focusing on your fit is very important for your outfits to look good. Talking about Chikankari garments, Mehul says that they often have a relaxed fit and are known for their comfort.

"Make sure that your outfit flatters your body type and makes you feel good. Conversely, some Chikankari outfits like lehengas and sarees require a perfect fit," she adds.

Courtesy: msn.com

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