Sarees with traditional styled embroidery, originating from Lucknow are called as Chikankari Sarees. These sarees are famous because of the intricate embroidery being done on them with various color pallets, but it originally initiated with white embroideries only.
History behind Chikankari Sarees
There lies many stories behind the introduction of Chikankari to India. But the most popular one states that the wife of Mughal Emperor Jahangir, named Noor Jahan, introduced the chikankari artwork to India.
Techniques Behind this Grandeur Artwork
Chikankari sarees began as a white-on-white embroidery technique. But to cope up with the fashion trends, the embroiderers started introducing other colours as well to the chikankari artwork. The embroidery is well crafted on cotton, chiffon, crepe, georgette and muslin cloths. Ideally, the cloth should be thin enough to make the needle pierceable for delicate designs and intricate patterns. To keep the chikankari trend authentic, you can come across various outfits with the white embroideries that entices the Lucknowi style.
You can find the artwork on the chikankari sarees usually embroidered with floral motifs or paisley prints. It is famous for the design of little flowers and leaves repeating all over the saree, making it look adorable and resplendent.
The patterns vary with different embroideries such as some of them make the artwork in circles while some create parallel lines.
Occasions Suitable for Flaunting Chikankari Sarees
Formal Parties: You can select the chikankari sarees that are made of cotton or chiffon cloth while attending any formal parties as they create a style statement with utmost formalistic attire. You can opt for light pastels with white embroidery that states the realistic behaviour of chikankari sarees.
Casual Get-togethers: Here, you can take a chance to opt for the dark pastels with georgette fabric or silk threaded embroidery work that makes a casual appearance and accentuates the outfit.
Wedding/Reception: For grand occasions like wedding or reception, you can select the chikankari sarees with ornate floral motifs and intricate design patterns along with the dark pastels to shine up your look.
If you are not sure whether the chikankari sarees will go with the flow of changing seasons, then let us tell you that they are perfect for any season. The light weight and embroidery work of chikankari sarees make them suitable for summers and winters too. You can also wear them in monsoons, but make sure to choose the fabric that is suitable for monsoons.
Like you can select the silk, georgette or chiffon fabrics for monsoons that are light weight and dry out easily with the breezes. And you can go for the cotton or chiffon blends for summers to keep your skin protected from the scorching sun.
Real Quick Styling Tips for Chikankari Sarees Outfit
The lookup and embellishments should go hand in hand with the outfit that you have selected, else it will not take even a single second to be off the mark in any crowd.
So, while wearing the chikankari sarees, make sure to pair the saree with a designer blouse that should contrast with the saree color. Usually, the blouse colors should match with saree color or it should resemble with the embroidered thread color.
Another tip being, the jewelry should also contrast with the saree in specific manner. Try to go for chandelier earrings or chandbali jhumkas that look best with the embroidered artwork.
Maintenance guide for Chikankari Sarees
Chikankari sarees are available in a variety of airy fabrics like crepe, cotton, georgette, therefore the care of these sarees vary accordingly. For instance, silk chikankari sarees must always be dry cleaned, cotton chikankari sarees can be hand washed at home but only with a mild detergent. When washing these sarees for the first time do add a pinch of salt in the water. Further, these sarees should not be left to dry in the sun, as their colour might fade out. Also, it is recommended to change their fold on a regular basis.
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FAQs on Chikankari Sarees
What is Chikankari, where did it originated?
Chikankari is one of the oldest traditional art forms of embroidery known for its delicate and intricate design. With its roots in the City of Nawab, Lucknow, Chinkari is said to be introduced by Mugales in India. Chikankari sarees and embroidery in general is very simple and the precise handwork makes the garment look very classy and subtle.
The Lucknowi Chikankari work reference dates back to the third century BC, wherein a Greek traveler mentions the use of flowered muslin. As for its origin, there are quite a few versions. One being of a traveller that delighted by the hospitality of a peasant taught him the art of Chikankari, so that we could make some money and never go hungry. However, one of the most famous and factually checkable stories involves the Mughal emperor Jahangir and his wife Noor Jahan who introduced the art in India in the 17th century. While Noor Jahan herself is said to be a talented embroideress and has a fondness for this alluring embroidery, her husband established several chikankari workshops in the country.
How have Chikankari sarees evolved?
Chikankari is a 400-year old embroidery art that from the time of its origin has evolved drastically. Earlier available in limited garment choices, today we have chikankari sarees, suit, dupattas, dress material, men’s kurta and more. Earlier it was only done on white fabric with white thread with the favorable choice of fabric being mulmul and muslin, as they are best suited for warm, humid climate. Though the choice of fabric remains more or less the same, today chikankari embroidery is also done with silk and coloured threads. If you buy Chikankari sarees online, you’ll find a wide variety of options and embellishments like mirror work, sequins, Kamdani, Badal, beadwork, and Mukaisk. One can also go for Chikankari sarees online shopping and find different patterns and colour options. Over the time Chikankari sarees have created an altogether different space for itself in the design industry. With Bollywood stars spotted wearing them to important events and occasions, the Chikankari sarees for weddings has become more of a style statement.
What fabric are Chikankari sarees made of?
Chikankari sarees online or at a retail store are mostly available in light shade fabric so that the embroidery is highlighted. Some of the common fabrics used are cotton, silk, pure georgette, chiffon, semi-georgette, crepe, etc. Embroidery is difficult to do on harder fabrics, as the needle doesn’t get through the cloth.
How are Chikankari sarees made?
A lot of skill and labour goes into making Chikankari sarees. The process starts with the design/pattern printed on the base fabric which is then swed by the embroiderer. Once the embroidery work is done, the fabric goes for a wash to get rid of the printed design. Following steps are involved in making a Chikankarii saree - designing, engraving, block printing, embroidery work, and lastly washing & finishing. The finished Chikankari sarees are folded to go up the shelf.
How much does a Chikankari saree cost?
Chikankari sarees' price depends on the base fabric used and intricacy of the embroidery. One can find Chikankari sarees with a price online starting from a few thousand and going up to double-digit figures, depending on the quality of work, fabric, and type of embroidery - hand or machine.
How to identify an original Chikankari saree?
The originality of a Chikankari saree lies in the prominence of stitch work. If all the stitches are prominent and perfectly done then it’s a mark of an original Chikankari saree. On the other hand, rough stitch work, thick fabric, loose thread indicate towards none-original work.