Lucknow is known for its tehzeeb (etiquettes), culture and tradition that dates back to the time of the Nawabs, who were revered for their luxurious lifestyle, fashion sense and Awadhi cuisine. From here arises two distinct specialties – one being the famous Lucknowi Dum Biryani and the other one being the Lucknow chikankari work on fabric. Both of these are exceptions in the whole of India, as it is only here in Lucknow, you can find them in their authentic taste and form. In this post of mine, I would exclusively focus on the ethnic fashion clothing aspect of this city or region, and that is the Lucknowi Chikankari thread work. This traditional and unique form of embroidery on fabric is believed to be introduced by Noor Jahan, the better half of Mughal emperor, Jahangir. Today, this special form of embroidery, still persists and takes an even more elaborate form, as you can find them on sarees, kurtis, salwar suits, Anarkali suits and kurta pyjamas for men. This is one of the most intricate styles of thread work on fabric, apart from zari and zardosi work. It is only a specialty in Lucknow, where every clothing shop and store, sells fashion wear having this traditional Lucknowi art-form or thread work, that looks ‘classic’.
The Perfect Stitches and Locks
First, a plain cloth in cotton, Chiffon or Georgette fabric is selected, post which a block printing is done by hands to create a design or pattern on the cloth, and then the final embroidery work is done over the block print. It is a neatly done series of thread work in different styles, that looks really elegant and ornate. The fabric is mostly in light colors such as white, off-white, cream and light pink, that brings about a soothing effect to the eyes. Here, in Lucknow, especially in the area of Hazratganj, which is the main business district, one can find some exclusive chikankari clothing stores that sells such authentic stuffs. But if you are residing in Mumbai or Delhi, it is best advised to shop online,as there are stores like Kalki Fashion, that sells embroidered sarees and embroidered kurtis, that look perfect for every occasion. In the recent times, this form of traditional embroidery or thread work has taken a new dimension, with the introduction of sequin, mirror and bead work, that look really gorgeous and rich. If you are in Lucknow, searching for one such item, it is best advised to ask for Lucknowi Chikan at a local shop. I’m sure, you would be overwhelmed to see the collection.