Revival of Chikankari

Topics: Lucknow, Embroidery, Chikan Pages: 4 (1249 words) Published: December 1, 2010

Lucknow is a lovely old city, a city of old gardens and palaces, fine architectural conceits mosques, temples and aging monuments, a city so favoured by European travelers once upon a time, that it was popularly called ‘the Constantinople of the East’.It has a great deal of historicity. It is synonymous with architectural elegance, cultural finesse, social warmth and an enduring love for gracious living.Lucknow also has the distinction of being today, the cusp of a very beautiful, very aesthetic form of white floral embroidery, unique to this geographical location. Chikankari, that has been practiced in Lucknow for almost more than two hundred years.

Chikancraft is rooted in antiquity. The history of chikankari is richly anecdotal Some historians opine, that Chikan is a Persian craft as the word ‘Chikan’ is probably a derivative from the Persian word ‘Chikin’ or Chakeen which means a kind of embroidered fabric. Although the origins of Chikancraft, remain shrouded in the mists of time,but we can say with some justification that it gained a meaningful presence in Lucknow and its surrounding areas sometime during the late18th and early 19th century when it was brought to the Lakhnawi courts of the nawabs. It was patronized by the self-indulgent, pleasure-loving nawabs, favoured by local rajahs, sultans and zamindars and became a very intrinsic part of Lakhnawi grace and culture.

Abdul Halim Sharar, in his book, Lucknow; The Last Phase of an Oriental Culture gives a very graphic description of male attire and specifically mentions the presence of chikan. According to him the people of Lucknow, ‘covered their heads with chau goshia, topi’s of chikan work, their bodies with angarkhas, their legs with wide pyjamas, and over their shoulders they draped scarves or cummerbands (sashes). For the ladies, chikankari was used to adorn Lehengas and odhnis (long skirts and veils), kurtas and angarkhas (Tunics), prayer cloths and scarves of...
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