Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh


Chikankari is a traditional and elegant embroidery style from Lucknow, India. Whether it was discovered in the 3rd century BC by Megasthenes or in the 17th century during the Mughal era by Noor Jahan, Chikankari solely represents Awadhi culture. After the demise of Nur Jahan, the King of Awadh, Nasir-ud-Din Haidar revived the craft in the 1830s by offering chikankari products as expensive gifts to the Britishers and displaying them at darbaars. The cave paintings at Bagh and Ajanta share a number of motifs, patterns, and compositions with this craft.

Thousands of women artisans with majority of them belonging to Muslim community, practice this craft of white flowered muslins from generations. Women do the embroidery, while men develop the blocks and do the washing. The craft involves over 36 different stitching techniques, with about 8-10 main stitches that are generally used at present. These stitches include
Phanda, Murri, Bakhiya, Jaali, Kauri, Keel-kangan, etc.

Chikankari has traditionally been associated with white on white, especially with Bengal’s fine muslins. Nowadays, colored threads are incorporated and various fabrics like georgette, silk, polyester, modal, kota doria, chiffon, organza, chanderi etc are used. Popularly practiced natural motifs include paisley, palm leaf, grass stalks, petal motifs and animal motifs include birds, peacock, butterfly and elephant.



Design is carved on the block and a mixture of indigo powder (neel) and gum is prepared.


The selected blocks are printed onto the given fabric by chapai artisans such that an outline of the design gets traced.


Colors for embroidery threads are chosen and given to the embroiderers. The fabric is set in an embroidery hoop, and the printed outline is followed to create a number of stiches using 2-3 ply anchor yarns and needles.