14 April 2010

Chikankari work.......at once simple & beautiful!!!!!

Chikan cloth is something most of us women folk, have either bought or have lusted after at some point of time or the other. While wondering why such material is so exorbiantly priced, I just spoke to some of the people who actually work on it & the embroidery process they described truly amazed me.

Chikankari work is a fine & intricate kind of mesh embroidery that originated & is traditionally done even now in Lucknow, thus also being known as 'Lucknowi work'. Its origins are unclear but it is believed to be  introduced by Nur Jehan, Mughal emperor Jahangir's wife who was inspired by Turkish embroidery.

It began as a form of embroidery done using white threads on semi-transparent muslin cloth (also called tanzeb) but is now done on a variety of fabrics in different colours. The exquisitness of Chikan fabric is enhanced when it is embroidered with different embellishments like sequins & beads making it an apt choice for grand occasions.

The making of the fabric usually involves block-printing a pattern on large pieces of fabric after which the embroiderer then stitches onto this pattern. The finished piece is then carefully washed to remove all traces of the printed pattern & the cloth material is ready to be used. Although this process might seem pretty simple, it is actually quite time consuming & inorder to make each piece different, the embroiderer usually makes use of different threads of varying thickness with different stitches ultimately resulting in a fabric that gives a very lacy effect (jali), which is the most striking feature of  the work The patterns used are flowing & includes tiny floral motifs & other designs covering just a part of the fabric or all of it.

Although the embroidered cloth might look very simple & beautiful, the intricacy involved & time taken, makes buying it extremely worthwhile enabling us to appreciate such a traditional dying craft which beats factory made, mass-produced goods anytime!!!!

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