Chikankari sarees are elegant and distinct style of hand embroidered sarees from the Nawabi land of Lucknow that are made with white untwisted yarn sewed with needle by hand on fine six yards of viol, silk, georgette or cotton. These Lucknowi Chikankari Sarees are usually made in light fabrics owing to the hot summers of Lucknow. Mainly done by women artisans and workers, the embroidered chikankari sarees involve a variety of stitching styles that are impossible to imitate. There are close to thirty-two stitches involved in pure chikankari sarees from Lucknow that hold delightfully fanciful names like Phooljali, lambi Murri, Phanda, Janjeera, Kangan, Keel, Dhoom, Gol murri, Bakhia, Kapkapi, Karan, Dhania Patti, Phool, Bijli, Ghaspatti, Daraj, Hathkati & Rozanto name a few. At first, designs are printed on the saree with washable colours on which different stitches and specialty embroidery work follow. While some patterns are simple and can be done by novice craftswomen, the others involve patterns that are extremely detailed and complex and require experienced artisans to bring them alive. Thus the level of expertise and the labor that goes into embroidering these lucknowi sarees decide the cost of these sarees that are a fit for a range of occasion’s right from casual wear and office wear to formal parties and even weddings. Chikankari silk sarees price ranges from Rs 8000/- to Rs 15000/-.
History has it that Chikankari work was brought to Lucknow in the 18th century from Dhaka and West Bengal by the Nawabs of Awadh. Noorjahan, the Mughal wife of Emperor Jahangir said to have introduced it in Lucknow used to practice the art of chikankari work herself. The art flourished under the patronage of the Nawabs of Awadh where the craftsmen began creating designs of exemplary quality that were unmatched in beauty. The craft then eventually was passed on to the women folk of the weaving community and they became the main earning members of the family. However, during British rule, the art saw a setback and it remained confined to the homes of artisans but efforts were made to revive this craft after Independence and today it is one of the acclaimed and most admired crafts of India.
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