Some trends like chikan work never go out of fashion. Chikan work also known as chikankari is an ancient form of delicate floral hand embroidery that has mesmerized men and women for centuries. Lucknow -the city of Nawabs has remained the center of chikan work for almost two hundred years; but this famous art form did not originate here. There are many stories about the origin of chikan work in India. One of them is by the Greek traveler Megasthenes, who had mentioned the use of flowered muslins by Indians in the court of Chandragupta Maurya, around 3rd century BC. But the most popular legend is that it was brought to India by Mehrunissa, the Persian wife of the Emperor Jahangir. This work flourished under the royal patronage during 16th and 17th centuries in Delhi. After the fall of Mughal court the craftsmen scattered all over India. Some of them came and settled in Awadh, Uttar Pradesh and that’s how this art form started in Lucknow.
Traditionally chikan embroidery was done on white muslin or cotton clothes with white thread. But to keep up with the latest fashion trends these days this aesthetic embroidery is done with colored and silk threads in different colors and are also available with embellishments like Mukaish, Kamdani , Badla, Sequin, bead and mirror work, which gives an opulent look to the fabric. There are around 36 types of stiches, which are used in this work, these stitches can be grouped into three types , even -same level stitches, raised or high stiches and embossed stitches and open grill like ‘Jali’ work.These patterns and effects are created depending on the types of stitches used and thickness of the threads used in the needlework. Some of the most popular stiches are:
Shadow work: In shadow work embroidery is done on the reverse side of the fabric using herringbone stitch that creates a shadow like impression on the front side of the fabric.
Tepchi work: It is also known as magic work because the difference between the right and the wrong side cannot be made out by just looking at the fabric. Each stitch is symmetric to the other. This is a very delicate work as very thin thread is used for this embroidery.
Phanda work: Phanda work is one of the most popular works in chikankari. It is a hand embroidered design of flowers that gives a pearl like effect on the fabric. And it is usually combined with Murri work to give an exclusive look to the fabric.
The great thing about chikan work is that it’s available in both men’s and women’s wear.
For Men: Men can wear cool chikan kurta pajama with rich embroidery in different colors and styles for a formal look. They can also team up cotton kurta with jeans for a casual look.
For Women: Variety of women’s wear like saris, suits kurtis, anarkalis, tops, skirts are available in this work in different styles and fabrics. But nothing can match the elegance and charm of over all white chikan work on a suit and sari. Silver and pearl accessories look great with these outfits.
If you are looking for an elegant summer wear, then add one over all traditional white chikankari outfit to your wardrobe.