The Majestic Chikankari: The Art behind Our All-Rounder Chikankari Kurtas


The subtle yet classy chikankari kurtas have been on the Indian fashion spotlight for ages. These are the go-to garment for traditional outings as well as in for office wear and party wear. One of the ageless Indian summer fashion (for men, women as well as children) is a kurta with Chikankari embroidery. Then why are these extraordinary kurtas so popular among all genders and age groups? The answer lies in the broad range of lightweight fabrics, rich and ornate embroidery, and its multipurpose property- a kurta (combined with jeans,k leggings, palazzos, and the right accessory) complements a variety of occasions. These kurtas are a smart purchase and will always have a designated spot in any millennial wardrobe.

The Origin of Chikankari Crafts

There are many origin stories of Indian chikan art, the most notable one being of Noor Jahan. Noor Jahan, the wife of Mughal Emperor Jahangir, introduced the Persian art of Chikankari, which enamored athe emperor. He then established various workshops to develop the skill of chikan embroidery among Indian craftsmen and create chikankari clothes for the royal family. After the downfall of the Mughal Empire, the chikankari craftsmen spread all across India. Today, Lucknow is the main center of Chikankari embroidery in India. 

The Process behind the Majestic Embroidery

The technique behind the delicate art of chikankari includes pre-preparation and post-preparation stages. Additionally, pre-preparation stages consist of block printing and embroidery. The first step- block printing- is the stamping of the design prototype on the fabric. Then comes the embroidery step- the chief step. The skillful artisans begin their magical needlework on the block-printed fabrics. The post-preparational stage (and the final step) is washing. The fabric is soaked in water and starch to wash away the outlines and obtain stiffness for the cloth. 

The Intricate Needlework of Chikankari Artisans

The true glory of chikankari kurtas or other chikankari saris, Kurtis, lehengas, and dupattas- is its elegant, magical, and rich needlework. Flowers, stems, and leaves are a vital part of any chikankari design. The craft in itself uses various patterns and stitches to create its heavenly designs. The most favorite stitches among the chikankars are backstitch, chain stitch, and hemstitch. Zanjeera and Rahet stitches fill up the leaf and stem parts of the design. Phanda stitches are famous for stitching the vines. The intricate flowers are a result of Hool and Keel Kangan stitches. All these (and many more) needleworks create the symbolic designs of a chikankari masterpiece.

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