Chikankari embroidery work has been an integral part of Lucknow since the past 400 years & it is the best known textile decoration styles of this city.
The word Chikan actually means embroidery and it assimilates approximately 36 different stitching techniques like Zanzeera, Rahet, Banarsi, Khatau, Phanda,Bulbul-chasm and so on !
Traditionally, white muslin cloth was used but now chikankari can be seen on different fabrics as it has spread all over the country but the main production hub lies in the hearts of Awadh and West Bengal!
In the initial phase, the design is made on the cloth of choice- chiffon, doriya, organza muslin, cotton and so on. The cloth is then cut according to the desired shape of the garment and multiple wooden block stamps and designs are debossed in ink which is a mixture of glue and indigo, onto the fabric. There are groups of artisans who do just the printing work as it is an intricate step.
The next stage is the chikan work which is basically embroidery done with various needles and threads! The fabric is set in frames, part by part as the needle follows the printed pattern on it. The type of stitch an artisan chooses, is truly based on the specialty of that specific region.
The concluding stage is the washing part where the fabric is soaked in water to get rid of the ink outlines and then a generous amount of starch is applied to the fabric to obtain required stiffness
These Chikankari garments are for both the sexes and it can be seen on vivid variety of attires- palazzos, kurtas, kurtis, tunics and sarees!