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Wednesday, 13 April 2016


Chikankari is the art of hand embroidery practiced in the city of Lucknow(India) and its vicinity. The history of chikan embroidery in India dates back to almost 400 years and is believed to be a Persian craft, that came to India with Noorjahan, the queen of Mughal Emperor Jahangeer. However, Chikankari flourished under the patronage of the Nawabs(rulers) of Awadh(Historical name for Lucknow and its environs).
Chikan embroidery has a repertoire of about 40 stitches of which about 30 are still being used. The main stitches with their traditional names are:

1.    Taipchi: Running stitch worked with six strands of thread on the right side of the fabric. It is usually done within parallel rows to fill petals and leaves . It's considered to be the simplest and the swiftest chikankari stitch  and is used as a basis for further embroidery.
2.    Pechni: In this stitch, taipchi is covered by intertwining the thread over it in a regular manner to provide the effect of something like a lever spring and is always done on the right side on the cloth.
3.    Pashni: Taipchi is worked to outline a motif and then its covered with minute vertical satin stitches over about two threads and is used for fine finish on the inside of badla.
4.    Bakhia: Or Herringbone Stitch also known as shadow-work is a very common chikan stitch, principally done from wrong side of fabric and is of two types:
(a) Ulta Bakhia: A string of criss-cross stitches is made on reverse / wrong side of the fabric underneath the motif. That appears as parllel rows of running stitch from right-side and beautiful shadow of underneath stitches can be seen from transparent fabric .
(b) Sidhi Bakhia: Back stitch with criss-cross Herringbone Stitches of  individual threads. The floats of thread lie on the surface of the fabric. 

5.    Khatao, khatava or katava is cutwork or appliqué - more a technique than a stitch.
6.    Gitti: Stem-stitch , A combination of buttonhole and long satin stitch usually used to make a wheel-like motif.
7.    Janjira: Chain stitch usually used as outlines in combination with a line of pechni or thick taipchi.
8.    Murri: A very minute satin stitch in which a knot is formed over already outlined taipchi stitches.
9.    Phanda: Or knot stitch is a smaller shortened form of murri. The knots are spherical and very small, not pear shaped as in murri. 
Chikankari at

10. Jaalis: Or Pulled-thread-work where holes / jaalis or trellises  are made by manipulation of the needle without cutting or drawing of thread. jaalis are created is by pulling apart wrap and weft threads of fabric in a fashion that minute openings are made in the cloth. Shape of openings and the stitches used distinguish one jaali from another.
Traditionally embroidered on muslin with a white thread, but at present all types of fabrics and all colors of threads are. The pattern is block printed on
Block printing 
de-starched fabric or on the semi-stitched garment with fugitive colors, and the embroidery of the garment is then begun. The embroidered piece is then washed, after which the garment is then starched and ironed. The whole cycle can take from one to six months.
Some stitches, ichikan embroidery, are worked from the wrong side of the fabric, while others are worked from the right side as shown in given image. Different specialists work with different types of stitches.