Fragile threads adorned in delicate designs on exquisite fabrics, Chikankari has its own brand of deliberate and detailed art work. Over the years, Chikankari has evolved, as all forms of art have. It now flaunts modernist features in its styling. However, like many other art forms, Chikankari has not strayed from its traditionalist embroidery. We, at Ethnava, maintain this unwavering loyalty of the craft to its traditionalism, while also adopting the ever evolving modernity of fashion in the cut, style and make of our product.
This gorgeous ethnic beige chikankari kurta has been created with perfection using white cotton thread creating detailed floral patterns and motifs on the neck. Intricate chikan stitches “Bakhiya”, and “Phanda” have been used to adorn the neck line of the lucknow kurta.
Ghas Patti is one of the most recurring pattern in the craft of Chikankari. It is a series of petals and leaves that fills up the fabric. This pattern of embroidery adorned on chikankari pieces is a manifestation of meadows and gardens. It brings out the Awadhi bent towards gardens (‘bagh’), and this historical obsession with pretty gardens can be seen even today in the name of all major places in Lucknow. From Qaisarbagh to Alambagh, Lucknow’s proverbial gardens come alive in this pattern of embroidery.
Bakhiya or ‘shadow work’ is actually one of the most creative and unique forms of embroidery contained in Chikankari. In this stitch the filling is done on the wrong side while the design is bounded by a running stitch on the right side of the fabric to give it a neat look, since the stitch is made on the reverse side of the fabric, resembling the herringbone stitch. It brings out the vastness of this craft. Not only does Chikankari come alive in the form of embroidery on the face of a fabric, but it also embraces the fabric from below to create a shadow which fills up patterns. This stitch is one of the many tributes to the wholesomeness of Chikankari!
Phanda refers to knots that are in the shape of Millets. Phanda is considered to be a more intricate version of stitches. However, the knots are much smaller and far more delicate. Mostly utilized in making the centre of the flowers in simple Chikankari design motifs. It is a knot type of a millet shaped stitch.
Add on to the kurta: It can be worn with flared or side-slit pants/palazzos/jeans. It can also be fashioned with a contemporary version of ‘Dhoti’. As the embroidery of Chikankari is detailed and heavy, it does well to lose excessive jewellery. A simple oversized or minimal pair of earrings shall suffice to complement the ensemble. The look can be topped off with an elegant watch or bracelet, to give the finishing touches.
Trivia: Into the northern heartlands of India, the heritage of craftsmanship has been passed down for centuries, generation after generation. Among the exquisite flavors of Mughlai and Awadhi food, the intricate carvings and the architectural wonders, the erstwhile Awadh also cradles the origins of Chikankari with pride. A culture already rich in various art forms, the artisans of Awadh are learned in the craft of Chikankari embroidery, and carry it forward to this day. It was introduced by Nur Jehan, the wife of Mughal Emperor Jahangir. The emperor then sponsored the craft and it spread throughout the plains of Awadh.