Charming Chikankari

Chikankari embroidery is a very delicate and intricate work from the city of Lucknow. Historically this form of embroidery came to India from Persia. The art particularly flourished during the Mughal rule and continues to be popular even today, due to its timeless grace and delicate appeal.

Chikankari embroidery is done with untwisted white cotton thread on fabric like muslin. Today of course the art is applied on all kinds of material even silk with the use of coloured threads of various types.

Chikankari is famed for around 40 types of stitches. The motifs commonly used are that of creepers, fruits and flowers. The mango motif is particularly popular. The design is etched on the fabric with design blocks dipped in indigo. Once the embroidery is completed, the fabric is washed to remove the indigo.

Some of the common stitches are:

  • Bakhiya is a herringbone stitch worked on the wrong side of the cloth and this provides a shadow effect enabling the design to be viewed on the right side.
  • Phanda and Murri are basically French knots stitches used to embroider the centre of the flowers in chikan work motifs.
  • Rahet is a stem stitch worked on the wrong side to make thick lines. This provides a raised effect.
  • Hool is a fine eyelet stitch like a button-hole stitch.
  • Zanzeera is a chain stitch which is applied to outline leaves or shapes of the petals.
  • Taipchi is a simple running stitch and often serves as a basis for further enhancement of the design.
  • Jali work or the mesh effect is created by cutting or drawing the thread.
  • Khatawa is an appliqué work similar to bakhia, which produces a flat appearance.
  • Turpai stitch produces a thin thread like stitch used to embellish specific designs.
  • Gitti is a combination of buttonhole and long satin stitch, used to make motifs which have a tiny hole in the center.

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