Chikankari is a delicate art of crafting intricate shadow and designer type of embroidery which was usually performed on the white yarn initially or colorless muslin cloths which are called as tanzeb. Chikankari is very similar to the Shadow work, a white embroidery work which uses herringbone stitches on the back of the fabric to fill designs, resulting in a fine shadow on the face of the fabric.

The word 'Chikan' is basically derived from Persian word 'Chikeen'. Chikan, in the literal sense means ’embroidery’. The main essence of the garment is a simple design, and while motifs are now added to make the garment look rich, it still remains a simple and affordable fabric choice.In earlier days, the Chikankari embroidery is traditionally done on mulmul- fine muslin cotton. Due to non-availability of mulmul, now-a-days this work is done on cotton, wool, chiffon, crepe, organde chiffon and silk clothes using contrast color threads.

The stunning handcrafted artwork was introduced by Noor Jaha, the Mughal Queen of the Emperor Jehangir. Chikankari has its mentions in the early works of the 3rd Century BC by the famous Greek traveler, Megasthenes, who described the utter beauty of intricate floral motifs and patterns on cloth using chikankari work.

Chikankari embroidery features numerous patterns and designs of muree, lerchi, keelkangan and bakhia. It is a detailed form of embroidery that often uses motifs of Mughal architectural themes.

Every stitch in chikan work is not replaced by another stitch. The pattern is completed with the same stitch. For example, the outline of the design will be done in one stitch like zanjeera that is the chain stitch. Chikankari consists of amazing teamwork.

There is a depiction of the chikankari embroidery in the movie Anjuman, 1986. It highlights the lives of local women from Lucknow who work on this craft.

Chikankari has become a household name in all parts of India, so much so that it is a must-have a garment in every woman’s wardrobe.

It is now a favorite of reigning queens of Bollywood. While the designers have taken Chikankari Craft to the next level, the craftsmen community continues to strive for a better and healthier lifestyle!