History of Chikankari
Chikankari, primarily refers to an
embroidery variety done originally with pristine white cotton thread on fine
mulls and muslins. The word chikan derives its name from the Persian word,
Chakeen, meaning rendering of delicate patterns on fabric.
The chikankari embroidery
garment is believed to be introduced in seventeenth century by Noorjehan
(wife of Mughal emperor Jehangir) who was inspired by Turkish embroidery.
Some designs and patterns still exist that are believed to be queen's
Sources also attribute that chikankari originated in East Bengal where the
word chikan meant 'fine'. 'Chikan' was first referred to in the records
Megasthenes, a Greek traveller who mentioned the use of flowered muslins by
Indians in the 3rd century B.C.
Indian craftsmen believe that the origin of 'chikankari' goes back to
ancient times when a traveller while passing through a village near Lucknow,
in Uttar Pradesh, asked for some water from a poor peasant who offered him
the desired help. Pleased with his hospitality, the traveller taught him the
art of chikankari that would never allow him to go hungry. As per the
belief, the traveller was the prophet.
Chikan Embroidery has a unique grace and elegance and this constant
presence is maintained throughout the fine cotton or the fabric used. It
carefully highlights uniformity and consistency in stitches with fine
thread-knots. The patterns and motifs are generally floral and geometric
embroidery with exquisite delicacy of detail with even stitches or raised
with designs in a mesh pattern.