Are you looking for a masterpiece to make a statement, or a bargain to brighten up your home? Find the perfect piece in the artistic trails of Uttar Pradesh- the treasure chest of indigenous handicrafts.
Rooted in the history of a region, traditional object art of U.P. are not only awesome mementos but also serve as the small periscopes into the culture of that place. And at times, these marvels alone are worthy of a trip.
Among the commendable creations of the state, the Chikan work from Lucknow stands at the apex. This traditional embroidery style is over 400 years old with a firm presence in the National and international fashion arena. Said to have been introduced by the renowned Mughal Empress Nur Jehan- the favourite wife of Mughal king Jahangir, this technique of chikankari is the town’s finest textile decoration styles.
A standout and gorgeous art form that has left a number of people enthralled with its dazzling aesthetic appeal- the art of chikankari has charmed the personalities like kings all the way to the general public.
In fact, this detailed white tracery on transparent fabric, intricate and tastefully facilitated hand embroidery, is a pretty mesmeric art form that has left us captivated with its simple yet unique glam quotient.
Though this art form has survived the loss facilitated because of commercialization and lost its way sometimes in being considered average but has still efficiently managed to keep its charm alive. The fact stands as a testimony to the proficiency and untiring pains of the artisans who have facilitated this practice over the ages gone by.
Initially used as an embellishment just on clothes, today this shadow work type of embroidery is used to beautify the home furnishings as cushion covers, pillow covers, table linen, bed sheets, handbags, curtains etc. Indeed, its mesmeric delicacy and timeless grace have made chikankari the pride of the state.
Done on fabrics like cotton, semi-Georgette, pure Georgette, crepe, chiffon, silk, net etc., the patterns created depend on the stitches and the thicknesses of the threads used. The gossamer art of chikankari undergoes the process of Design, Engraving, Block printing, Embroidery, Washing and finishing so as producing something that is ageless.
Though the art form initially began as white embroidery on a white fabric but with its growing popularity, the embroidery has added colours and fabrics to its palette. The basic stitches of Chikankari including Tepchi (Running stitch), Bakhiya (Double back stitch), Hool (Eyelet), Zanzeera (Chain stitch), Rahet (Stem stitch), and Banarsi actually make this creation exquisite.
Passed down from one generation to another, the skill of chikankari has successfully kept up with the changing times and trends, adapting additional superfluities like Mukaish, Kamdani, Badla, sequin, bead and mirror work, etc. for a more opulent aesthetic. In the present day, the sheer variety of Lucknow Chikan work has undeniably become more bountiful than ever and is greatly in demand by the commoners, the elite class, and celebrities in Bollywood and Hollywood alike.
The beauteous art form that has evolved and matured over the centuries is unquestionably one of the most beautiful and appealing forms out there even today. Chikankari has been an inseparable part of our culture and heritage and would indeed be relished for many years to come!
Certainly, this one of its kind art is not just embroidery but a unique creation that is impossible to imitate in any other part of the world.