Chikankari – A Soul-Stirring Poetry on Fabric
What crosses your mind when we say “Lucknow”- the royal Nawabs, delicious kebabs or the enticing Chikankari? The City of Nawabs (Lucknow) known for its grandeur has given us a very ethereal and splendid gift in the form of the shadow work type of embroidery popularly known as Chikankari.
What is Chikan?
It is an intricate hand embroidery skillfully done on the different type of fabrics like muslin, chiffon, silk net, organza, etc. by seasoned artificers. The word Chikankari has originated from a Persian word Chakeen or Chakin, which means delicate patterns created on a fabric with the help of needlework.
Its existence in our history
For us, this appealing creation goes far back to early third century BC and is related to a Persian traveller who taught the beautiful art of Chikankari to a peasant residing at Lucknow, in exchange for his hospitality. Another school of stories connects it to Noor Jahan, the beautiful wife of Mughal emperor Jehangir. As she was a talented embroideress, Jehangir established many workshops to spread this exquisite art form in India in the 17th century. Originally, the delicate embroidery was finished using only white yarns, on colorless muslin fabrics known as tanzeb and was conceptualized as a white-on-white embroidery form.
Let us know the embroidery process.
The Chikankari technique performed in three stages:
Stage 1: Printing or Chapayi: Selected designs are hand-carved on wooden blocks of three different sizes, form the base for printing. The final design takes shape when different motif blocks get printed on the cloth with washable indigo ink.
Stage 2: –Embroidery or Taanka: The printed cloth is then mounted on a circular wooden frame and is ready for the needlework. Hand embroidery performed with the desired intricacy and different types of stitches completes the artwork. The most extensively used motif in Chikankari work is that of creepers followed by floral motifs of jasmine, rose, flowering stems, lotus, etc., which are either embroidered throughout the fabric or in the corners.
Stage 3 –Washing or Dhulayi: Your much-desired fabric with the mesmerising Chikankari is then soaked in water and washed to remove the indigo colour imprints. It is then starched and ironed. This fabric is now ready to take different forms to charm you. It takes an unbelievable time of 10-15 days to complete one piece of art.
Why we eulogise Chikankari?
There may be a thousand reasons, but we’ve listed a few:
- Alluring hand-embroidery gives it a rich and royal look
- Aesthetic stitches make the embroidery look gorgeous
- Heart touching perfection achieved by neatness in artisan’s work
- Choose from cotton, semi-georgette, pure georgette, crepe, chiffon or silk fabrics
- White-on-white embroidery work has embraced the use of colours
Limited Edition Fusion Wear Collection - inspired by the craft from the court of Queen Noor Jahan
Inspired by this pristine art form that makes us embrace our culture and rich heritage every time we decide to slip into an Anarkali or a Kurta, Monk & Mei presents the avant-garde embroidered designs on timeless craft, creating an impression to last your lifetime. The breathtaking Chikankari styled fabric replicates the embroidery design, which originated from the 'chikan sazi' - the exquisite needlework of delicate patterns from Mughal architecture. This collection representing the royal craft depicts the unsurpassed rule of a modern yet serene woman in this society. We truly want you to appreciate this incredible form of elegant artwork developed with confluence of crafts of chikankari embroidery with chanderi fabric. The signature collection range from Jackets, Jump Suits, Day Dresses to long Angrakhas and sequins worked lehenga cholis for you to don them on special occasions. Our splendid one of a kind embroidered dresses carefully designed and crafted ensembles are ready to give you an elegant yet the fashionable look.
Always get your loveable embroidered attire dry cleaned to maintain its evergreen charm!