About Chikan Embroidery
Chikan has a certain grace and elegance, which ensures that it never goes out of style. If you wear Chikan you really are wearing a piece of history, as it is a form of embroidery that has been art part of India for centuries, it is said to have been originally introduced by Nur Jahan, the beautiful wife of the Mughal emperor, Jahangir. It has since evolved and attained its glory and perfection in Lucknow. Chikan Embroidery is a form of hand embroidery with patterns of different designs stitched using untwisted white cotton or silk (or rayon) threads on the surface of the fabric. In Chikan work, there is a fixed repertoire of stitches and it is usual for several types of stitched to appear on the same piece of embroidery (thereby enhancing it's intricacy and beauty). The different types of Chikan work done today are Taipchi, Bakhia, Phunda, Murri, Jaali, Hathkati, Pechni, Ghas Patti, Chaana Patti etc.
Chikan embroidery is a very laborious and time consuming task (The craftsmen are trained for 15 to 20 years and sometimes it takes 10 to 15 days to make an outfit with hand embroidery as they fill in the designs with threads with detail work). This is why Chikan is so expensive as compared to machine embroidery. But it is worth it as you really do feel like a queen when you wear it - a Chikan suit is a regal treasure in any fashion connoisseur's wardrobe! . Really, the great thing about this form of embroidery is that it never goes out of fashion and it suits women of all ages. If you are going to invest in a few pairs of elegant wear, try adding chikan to your wardrobe. And before the men (in your heart and home) start feeling left out, they too can wear this form of embroidery - get a Chikan shirt for them!
HOW IS A CHIKAN GARMENT CREATED?
The chikan industry has five main processes namely cutting, stitching, printing, embroidery, washing, and finishing. Cutting is carried out in the lots of 20-50 garments. The layouts are done to minimize wastage of materials. Then comes stitching. Stitching may be ‘civil’, done exclusively for higher priced export orders or ‘commercial’, which is done for cheaper goods. Printing is carried out by the use of wooden blocks dipped in dyes like neel and safeda (which are washed out after the embroidery has been done). After this, the fabric is embroidered by women - It takes an artisan at least 10 to 15 days to embroider a Fashion chikan ensemble (Each piece has to be completed by one artisan as the handiwork of each artisan differs). Only those with artistic and nimble handiwork can master the art of chikan. The last process, which is washing and finishing, includes bleaching, acid treatment, stiffening, and ironing.
The most common motif used is that of a creeper. Individual floral motifs may embellish the entire garment or just one corner. Among the floral motifs embroidered, the jasmine, rose, flowering stems, lotus and the paisley motifs are most popular.
We encourage the artisans to use their own artistic creativity and design their own motif- this way, we hope that the beautiful and wide variety of stitches and designs that were on the decline will be revived. No two suits are alike each one is a labor of love, waiting for a loving place of pride in your wardrobe.