Chikan is a traditional embroidery style from Lucknow, India which means embroidery. It is one of Lucknow’s best-known textile decoration styles which is believed to have been introduced by the wife of Mughal emperor Jahangir. There is an another tale related to the origin by some historians who have recorded the presence of Chikan as early as the 3rd Century AD during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya, but the exact origin of this technique remains a mystery to date.
The technique of creation of a chikan work is known as Chikankari which is a delicate and artfully done hand embroidery on a variety of textile fabrics. White thread is embroidered on cool, pastel shades of light muslin and cotton garments. Nowadays Chikan embroidery is also done with colored and silk threads in colors to meet the fashion trends and keep chikankari up-to-date. Lucknow is the heart of the chikankari industry today and the variety is known as Lucknawi Chikan.
Due to the strong influence of Persian aesthetics on this craft, flowers have been a staple in Chikankari designs. There are hardly any garments with Lucknow Chikan work that don’t use floral patterns or motifs. The types of flowers, as well as their stylizations, have varied throughout time to keep up with fashion trends, but in general have remained fairly intricate and delicate. There are a tremendous variety of garments that come adorned with this type of work, for men as well as women. This includes everything from long and short kurtas, tunics, sarees, Anarkalis, etc to a range of accessories such as shoes, bags, belts, lamp shades, table cloths and cushion covsarees