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Chikankari Embroidery

Chikankari is an ancient form of white floral embroidery, intricately worked with needle and raw thread. This art is able to transform the plainest of cotton or organdy into flowing yards of magic. It can also be done on voile, silk, cambric, georgette, and terry cotton.

The origins of chikankari are shrouded in mystery and legend. Some historians say that it is a Persian craft, brought to the Mughal Court of the Emperor Jahangir by his beautiful and talented consort Mehrunissa. For centuries, this fine embroidery on transparent white fabric has delighted the hearts of kings and commoners alike. Today, this delicate traditional craft is practiced in and around the city of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.

This art survived the loss of royal patronage but then suffered steep losses at the hands of commercialization. The skill and drive of the craftsmen who have handed down this technique from one generation to another has helped it to survive. Chikankari has six basic stitches and over thirty-five other traditional stitches used in various combinations.

The source of most design motifs in Chikankari is Mughal architecture, which draws its inspiration from Persian designs. The motif styles have a a very distinct quality and the themes for the most of them are from the Mughal period. The motifs show a strong influence from the screens present in the Taj Mahal.

With the start of the recent, profit-oriented era in Indian fashion, small and large designer houses began to add crystal, mukaish and zardozi types of embroidery to Chikankari for more opulent aesthetics.

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