Chikankari, the finest white embroidery is an art from Persia. However, its origin is a debatable matter, but all the possibilities of its origin suggest that this embroidery was introduced into the Indian subcontinent with the landing of Persians.
Now what sets it apart from other embroidery techniques? Well the answer to this question lies in a number…. 32….Chikankari is composed of 32, all unique in their own way, kinds of hand stitches. These can be broadly divided into 3 heads – flat stitches, raised and embossed stitches, and the open trellis-like jaali work. Some of these have equivalents in other embroideries, the rest are manipulations that make them distinctive and unique. They cover almost all the embroidery stitches of the country and have interesting and descriptive names.
- Taipchi (or Tepchi) – This is basically a simple running stitch, that is used to fill in flower petals and leaves. It’s the easiest and the quickest stitch in chikankari. Its done in parallel rows.
- Bakhiya- This is the most common chikankari stitch, also my favourite. It’s also known as shadow work and is of 2 types
1- Ulti Bakhiya– The floats of threads lie on the wrong side of the fabric, thereby making a transparent muslin, opaque. Wait what’s ‘floats of thread’? So I researched it and found out that the ‘floats of thread’ in very simple language refer to the ‘criss-cross’ pattern made in this stitch. See the image and its easy to understand. This actually creates a very interesting effect of light and shadow.
2- Seedhi Bakhiya– Here the ‘ floats of thread ‘ lie on the right side of the fabric. Here there is no effect of light and shadow.
- Gitti: A combination of buttonhole and long satin stitch, usually used to make a wheel-like motif .
- Jangira: Its a chain stitch usually used as outlines in combination with a line of pechni or thick taipchi.
Now coming to the Knot stitches and the bulkier ones.
- Murri– This is actually a chain stitch done over and over again on the same spot, three times, creating a bulky knot.
- Phanda– This is a circular stitch done diagonally on a fabric. It may look similar to jangira but the difference is, jangira is done over a thick tepchi stitch giving it a more sem circular feel, whereas phanda is done directly on the fabric.
- Ghas Patti– This is actually like a fishtail braid, used to fill in flower petals or leaves.
- Keel Kangan– This stitch is used to fill in the central region of a flower.
Both the above stated stitches are used together to created flowers in chikankari.
Stay tuned with C25 Craft street for more information on Chikankari.
Craftandartisans.com. (2017). Chikan Embroidery of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh | The Craft and Artisans. [online] Available at: http://www.craftandartisans.com/chikan-embroidery-of-lucknow-uttar-pradesh.html [Accessed 5 Feb. 2017].
Life, D. (2017). Chikankari, not just an embroidery!. [online] Sonamsrivastava.blogspot.in. Available at: http://sonamsrivastava.blogspot.in/2011/04/chikankari-not-just-embroidery.html [Accessed 5 Feb. 2017].