Chikankari- A 400 year old art, patronized first by the Nawabs of Awadh and now by the elite across our country….neither is it unusual now to see actors and actresses flaunt gorgeous designer chikan apparels with aplomb….a flourishing industry, by all accounts. And those precious hands that create this intricate web of magic, surely they’re flourishing with it, right…?
The ground reality is far darker than we imagine ….yes, it’s a flourishing industry, with growing awareness about it within and outside India, but for the thousands and thousands of workers, working tirelessly in terrible conditions, time seems to have stood still. Little has changed for them over the years……they are still uneducated, grossly underpaid and horribly exploited. Their sole aim – to put food on the table and to this end, they work in poor light conditions, sitting hunched over to produce piece after piece of this marvelous art. And yet each day of hard work earns them only a pittance, because the “agents” who bring them the business pocket the lavish commissions.
Which makes the feat of this special group of women even more applaudable. Chikanbarn salutes these 37 women and their painstaking journey of awareness which took them from their homes to the Registrar General of Patents, with a petition that their beautiful art be awarded the GI status under the Intellectual Property Rights, protecting it from cheap machine work imitations and agents in the market by linking artisans directly to the market and ensuring quality assurance.
We’re proud to be associated with ‘Chikankari’, a documentary by Shalini Raghaviah, on the struggle and the dauntless spirit of these women, and their goal to achieve a place in the world craft map.
This film is being crowdfunded through Catapooolt, and is now in the fundraising stage, targeted for release by May 2015. It is our sincere belief that exposure of this form can only benefit the art and through that, the artisans. We all talk the talk, now it’s time to walk the walk. Even a small contribution from you can go a long way in generating interest and awareness. We have made our contribution and look forward to all our patrons to come ahead and help Ms.Shalini Raghaviah in her endeavor … contribution start INR 99 and Catapooolt have Big Flix vouchers and other goodies as thank you gifts.
To know more about the film, and to make your contributions, visit https://catapooolt.com/chikankari
On the 30th of Nov, the Chikanbarn team visited Jaliamau village a few k.m. from Kakori in UP, for a health camp organized in partnership with SevaMob Ventures. About 25 chikan workers and their children were provided medical and dental health checks and were also introduced to low cost health insurance and medical benefit packages. Chikanbarn committed to sponsor the premium for a year, for the neediest artisans, to help them experience Sevamob’s unique doorstep service and understand and share the benefits in their community.
The partnership offers a great opportunity to make a difference to the lives of the largest and the neediest cluster of women artisans in the world. With most Chikankari workers being freelancers, it is difficult to cover them under any existing corporate or individual plans. Now, with this partnership, we can make a start.
As part of this association, Sevamob would provide 4 on-premise health camps for delivering preventive and primary care and medicines for common ailments free of charge. For more advanced issues, these workers will be entitled to 24×7 call center and no-charge back-office appointments with a gamut of specialists. 1 Lakh worth of Accident Insurance is also offered for a year under this package.
What we did find, through the observations made by SevaMob’s dedicated and socially motivated team of doctors, were common ailments due the occupational risks associated with the craft; poor eyesight, in some cases, total loss of vision in one or both eyes, joint pain, especially in the knees, hypertension, anemia and malnutrition. Another major problem area was dental conditions, resulting from poor oral hygiene and regular use of tobacco dust in the form of a locally produced tooth powder. The tobacco in the powder acts as a sedative, relieving pain in the gums, which means that most people use it after every few hours. Most of the women there were not aware of the extreme side effects of this, including rotten teeth, addiction to the tobacco and in severe cases, oral cancer.
Chikanbarn took this small step as part of the first initiative carried out under the aegis of our charitable and not for profit Chikanbarn Artisans Trust. This was small start from our end, however we are hopeful and excited that with 2% of our sales revenue committed towards the artisans cause we can make a sustainable difference and also influence some of our suppliers and partners to join this endeavor …
www.chikanbarn.com was started primarily as a For-Profit venture with a social objective. We were very sure about where we wanted to go…. promoting the chikan industry on the global market and having a common platform for wholesalers and manufacturers, but what we wanted the most and what we have been working steadily towards is the cause of the artisans.
To this end we announce the launch of the Chikanbarn Artisans Trust, a charitable, non- profit organization with a view to improving the socio-economic conditions of the artisans. It is our endeavor to connect and work in partnership with like minded people and organizations who want to contribute back in their own unique way but find only limited credible avenues for the same.
Hopefully, in our own small way, we can contribute towards the development and upliftment of this very special and talented group of people, so that this art thrives and prospers and continues to be a source of livelihood for ages to come ….
Chikankari in the eyes of the western world forms an integral part of the Indian fashion however, there is a lot more to it than what meets the eye. This hand embroidery is a part of the Indian culture and is worn by all during traditional festivities. Colloquially called Lucknow Chikan or Chikan Embroidery, Chikankari was introduced during the times of Nur Jehan, the wife of Mughal Emperor Jehangir and since those times this masterpiece of fine artistry has been gracefully admired by all around the globe. Today this majestic art has reached out to most of the corners of the world fashion industry as India plays the biggest contributor to this through the various fashion events and of course the Bollywood movies.
Bollywood movies like Pakeeza, Mughal-e-Azam, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, Hum Saath Saath Hain, Zubeida and many more have all shown the might of this beautiful embroidery with the actors and actresses donning Chikankari garments and movies have always inspired the masses in India when it comes to fashion. The women in these movies wore Embroidery dresses, Indian ethnic wear decorated with Lucknow Chikan and other forms of Ladies Chikan work that showed how beautiful and magnanimous this artistry is. The Indian ethnic wear that has Ladies Chikan Work includes Embroidered Kurtas, Embroidery Kurtis clubbed with Churidars and Salwar. Meant for the younger generation, in the movies these are worn by characters like daughters, sisters and young wives during festivities in the plot. For ladies that are more mature, Embroidery Sarees and Embroidered suits which are more graceful and elegant serve the purpose. Chikan Sari, Chikan Suits and Chikan salwar kameez form an integral part of fashion in Bollywood movies. Outside the movies also one can easily find one or more actresses of the Bollywood wearing Embroidery dresses in fashion events or Chikan kurtas with churidar and salwars in various other Tinsel town events. This results in more and more women donning Chikan garments. Especially popular among the young women as a casual fashion are embroidred kurtis also called Chikan kurtis that are a part of more casual wear donned with a pair of jeans to get the funky look. However, one can also find them wearing embroidered skirts, Chikan churidar and Chikan salwar as the bottom wear for a casual look as well as ethnic look.
Embroidery accessories like potli and duppata that go well with Lucknow Kurtas are a great way to accompany the beautiful Chikankari apparels and the women across the country do the same. Embroidered accessory are not just for embroidered clothing but they enhance the look of other styles of clothing as well. This is a reason why embroidered accessories are popular among women. Movies and fashion events always inspire women’s fashion sense and speaking about fashion, what becomes popular in Bollywood, definitely finds its way to the masses. This is why Embroidered saris, embroidery suits, Chikan Sarees and Lucknow suits are not only popular among the female folk of Bollywood but also among the common Indian Woman. The beautiful artistry of Lucknow Chikan enhances the beauty of Women like no other traditional fashion styles and therefore it is adored by all.
Chikankari is a very old artistry that originated in the city of Lucknow and belongs to the period of Mughal rule in India. It started off as a court art donned by the royal family and the noble folk but later evolved as a masterpiece for the masses also. There are not many designs in fashion that have stood apart from the tides of time and among the very few entities, Chikan embroidery has its own charm. Traditionally, this embroidery is found in ethnic wear for men and women however, a more casual approach is common nowadays among the youth who wear lightly embroidered apparel over jeans and shorts.
In the beginning, Chikan garments were only white in colour however later as the demand grew and the people demanded more variety, the use of coloured cloth started. Today one can easily find Men’s kurta pajama, or men’s Chikan kurta in various colours and life like designs in the stores. Chikan garments are generally expensive than other forms of embroidery as it is made completely out of hand stitching. It can take almost 15 days for an artist to complete one piece of embroidery work if it is very elaborate. However, the hard work pays off at the end when the work is appreciated by not only local customers but people from around the world. The intricate needle work and the details that the artisans bring on a single piece of cloth is marvellous on its own. Unstitched Chikan kurta is also quite popular among the Indian men. It not only gives them freedom to get their own kurta stitched as they like but it also serves as a wonderful gift item for men, women or kids. As a casual fashion wear, men’s short kurta are very popular. These can be accompanied with a nice pair of jeans, shorts or even trousers to give the perfect casual look. When going out with friends or just to the market, Chikan kurtas are a very good alternative to t-shirts for men.
Chikan embroidery for men is not limited to just kurtas. It is also found on hand embroidery shirts as well. These shirts are worn by men in parties and occasions that make them stand out from the rest of the crowd. The kind of smartness and the magnanimity offered by these shirts is unparalleled. When it comes to traditional ceremonies and parties, a Chikan kurta and sherwani donned over an Indian pajama is the best traditional dress for men till now. The men’s chikan kurtas accompanied over men’s churidar in various hues will definitely make you a show stopper at the event. In any fashion connoisseur’s wardrobe, a Chikan kurta pajama is a regal treasure. Chikankari garments never go out of fashion and this is the best feature of this art. The centuries old tradition practiced even today is a living proof of this. Only a few minor changes in the methods of making a Chikan garment might have come in this art otherwise, it still remains a casual fashion and ethnic wear for men as it was centuries ago.
There are not many styles and trends in fashion that stand out and beat the passage of time. Popularity of different designs or styles changes from one period to another. The ones prevailing today will be upgraded and donned in a different manner tomorrow. Every generation adopts its own fashion in terms of clothing that is related somewhat to the trends of the earlier generation. Every occasion requires us to pursue the societal norms of trends and fashion. However, there is one fashion trend that is above all the societal whose-who and the trend setting that is always dynamic. It is Chikankari, the Indian art of embroidery.
This artistry originated as a court art during the Mughal period in the city of Lucknow but even after centuries Chikankari work remains a casual fashion trend as well donned as an ethnic wear by men women and kids alike. Not only in India but across the globe in several countries and in international fashion events, this stunning art of hand embroidery has shown its might. Indian Ethnic wear can surely be called incomplete without this masterpiece of hand embroidery. The embroidery in coloured threads that are contrasting or that bring out the richness of the base colour of the garment always make heads turn. The different life like patterns and designs and the intricate details the artists capture in their work is just amazing. Today even kids see this as a great art and acknowledge not only the creative aspect of it in formal, ethnic wear but also fashionable attire that can be wore to dress up casually. Chikan embroidery finds much likability among kids these days than ever before. Be it ethnic wear for boys or ethnic wear for girls, kids kurta pyjama embroidered in Lucknow Chikan always imparts a smart sensibility of fashion. For girls and boys alike, there is such a wide range of collections of Chikan embroidery that are meant for every age group. A kurta for boys or a kurta for girls it gives a very nice outlook when worn over jeans as a short top in place of a T-shirt. What really steals the show is a boy’s kurta pyjama donned on special occasions and ceremonies.
Embroidered frocks for girls have the same charm as any other trending fashion apparel. The girls love to wear it and it makes them stand out from the rest of the crowd. Chikan work amazed the royal families of Lucknow and it still mesmerises the people with its exquisite beauty and the sheer elegance. The resolute magnanimity that formal Chikan garments have and that they impart to the one wearing them is unparalleled and unbeatable. The gaudy patchwork for kids and the enriched work of sequins and threads make this art of hand embroidery the most wonderful attire to be worn. The best part about Chikan work for kids is that it not only gives a contemporary feel but it can also act as an antiquity, something that reflects the aura of the glorious and royal past.
It is rightly said that India is a land of festivals. Very few can in the world boast of the kind of diversity that the country has an is proud of. Indians are known to be lovers of celebrations, and its diversity just gives them reasons enough to indulge in the festivities. Given that the various cultures, communities and religious identities share the same space, one cannot miss the extravaganza. No matter what season or the time of the day, if there is a reason to celebrate, Indians will jump out in their best attires to join in- be it Diwali, Id, Dushera, Holi, Rakshabandhan, etc. Ethnic dressing and Indian festivals go hand in hand. However much Indians wear western dresses on daily basis, they will always go back to traditional dresses for the festivities.
Indian festivals are never complete with the shopping for clothes. Entire family goes for a shopping binge when a festival is around the corner. Whatever the fashion of the day might be, hand embroidery clothes do not go out of fashion. India is a huge market and repository of such talent from across cultures and regions within the country. The range of these embroidery works that is found here is unparalleled. The ethnic wear section in any market, shopping mall stores or even small town shops will always have embroidered clothes among others.
Among the embroidered clothes by hand, Chikan work stands out and finds many takers.
For the ladies Chikan work ranks pretty high in the preference list. Because of the range that Chikan embroidery has, it makes it pretty accessible and versatile. The softness of the fabric as well of the thread itself gives it a rich touch and feel. Lucknow suits deserve a mention when talking about women’s wear. It is famous among women of all sections and comes in all price ranges. Suits are only second to saris and ever popular and in demand for Indian festivals. They are worn by women from all religions, and loved for the freedom it provides. It’s convenient and yet elegant at the same time.
In men’s kurtas few other threads carry the panache that Chikankari oozes with. Chikan kurta, especially in pastel colours will always take the cake. The lightness of the fabric gives it a royal look and feel. Men do not have to feel limited in their choices in ethnic wear, for within the traditional wear itself there is variety, which can be quite extensive. Men will forget about their complaints as they indulge in the fest of motifs, colours and patterns.
Chikan has one for everybody. Even kids do not get left out by Chikankari. Kids kurta pyjamas in Chikan embroidery are available for stitching in form of dress materials as well as readymade. The simplicity of the Chikankari only enhances the innocence of the little angels. Children love festivals and they like to dress up too. The easier the fabric, better it is for kids to be kids. Thanks to the Chikan embroidery, these attires are comfortable for kids and not heavy for them.
Chikan is one of the most popular and sought after embroidery works to have comeari. Every out of India. Chikankari, the form of embroidery, done in Lucknow, derives from the word ‘Chakeen’ in Persian language that means subtle motifs on fabric. The thread used to embroider on the cloth is white cotton thread. It is also said that ‘Chikan’ could have meant ‘fine’ in East Bengal, which is where is could have originated. Whatever its origin, Chikankari embroidered clothes look really pristine and could be very good gift ideas for your loved ones. Chikan Kurtis or Lucknow Kurtas come in various sizes. Their length varies from short to long to medium and have different kinds of neck designs. They can be worn with traditional salwars, choodidars or fashionable leggings, or even with a pair of jeans. Men’s Kurta pyjamas are an intrinsic part of Indian traditional wear known for it’s ethnic look and also comfort. Chikan kurta pyjamas never go out of fashion. Whether wedding, or a party, one can always rely on their favourite pairs. It can easily switch from being on of the most formal attire to casual. Just wear it on a pair of denim and change the look. Chikan hand embroidered shirts are ‘chic’, that’s exactly the word for them. They do make a statement wherever they go. Motifs are on along the buttons, at the back or even on the shoulders. They are done on a light fabric and can be great on a summer outdoorsy occasion. Chikan Salwar suits for an Indian woman will never go out of fashion and more so if it is in Chikanwoman will have one in her wardrobe if she cares for style in ethnic wear. They come in all kinds and all ranges- from one motif to another, different in neck designs and cut work. They are a favourite among women on traditional occasions. Not only can you adorn yourself in Chikan, but also your home. Chikankari home furnishings are apt if you wish to give an ethnic feel and touch to your home. Splash you bedroom or the Divan set in your drawing room with hand embroidered bed-sheets. Crafted by creative and talented designers/embroidery workers, embroidered table linens are fine pieces for your table can make a really good impression on your guest. These table linens come in various colours and they have a very good range in terms of motifs, colours and designs.
All things Chikan gives a rich look and has always been in fashion. Other trends have come and gone, but Chikankari has stayed and will, forever. Chikan is appreciated by younger generation and older alike. Chikan did not have to reinvent itself with time, but time had to stay with Chikankari. This fine craft of Chikankari embroidery attracts many to the alleys of Lucknow, from world over. Chikan works are also heavily exported from India to other nations. Chikan is one of the foremost things that carry a mark of being Indian. These gift ideas above are great way to tell that you care while making a statement
Indian marriages are an extravaganza in every other way you can think of. From food, to decoration, to jewellery, to clothes and what not. Clothes are, however, the most spent on when it comes to weddings. Everybody wants to look their best. In Hindu marriages, which are full of pre and post wedding events like Sangeet, Bhaat, Phera, Vidayi, etc., people like to dress in different clothes for each of them. Nobody can risk getting it wrong when it comes to showing off his or her style statement. Everybody carefully picks up the best according to them, which may differ from one person to another, but some clothes/fabrics are evergreen and opinions about them are set in stone- like Chikankari.
One of the most favoured clothing is the traditional Chikankari. There are various readymade options to go for in Chikan embroidered clothing, but most people still prefer to get them stitched according to their particular tastes. It is believed that there are not many options in ethnic wear for men. However, if the fabric is with Chikankari on it, men will feel no less than royal in those Kurta pyjamas that are supposed to be only option available for them on such events. In fact, if anything, it actually gives a lot of choice to them; Men can easily buy fabric and get Kurta’s custom tailored. This embroidered fabric comes in really beautiful, exotic motifs and designs. There is a huge variety in terms of colour and designs to choose from.
Now for women, in general, there is no dearth of options in clothing for traditional events. They could wear anything from suits, to saris, to lenhgas, to ghaghras, etc. But nothing beats the sari, especially if is a Chikan sari. A Chikan Sari has very little competition as far as ethnic wear for women go. The variety in patterns and shades is endless. One could go on and on if one did not stop and choose one. Looking at the fabric women want to splurge a little, and these functions give them a guilt free reason to do so.
Women’s another traditional attire in Chikankari that is equally, if not more, popular is Chikan salwar kameez. Salwar Kameez pieces come in various price ranges with myriads of motifs to choose from. Ladies can choose to get them tailored the way they like to. There is flexibility in patterns on the neck and sleeves giving them whole range of options to dig out their favourites from.
To go with the flavour of an all-traditional evening, Indian women can carry a Potli with their saris or suits. The Chikankari done on these potlis make them apt to accessorize their ethnic wear with. There are few other accessories with Chikankari on them- like belts, stoles, etc. The ladies could pair them with saris or salwar kameez and then there are stoles for the gents. Chikan has reinvented itself and branched out to show its range. This rich embroidered clothing has stayed with people from centuries and is going remain for many more to come.
Indian embroidery industry has been one of the favourites world-over, especially among the western nations who admire the South Asian and Middle Eastern embroidery. India’s richness in this craft is as ancient as its civilization. With various influences over the centuries, in form of invaders, traders or travellers, India has been home to many cultures and their crafts. Indian embroidery is as diversified as the country itself. This versatile craft of embroidery has moved on from mere clothing to home décor as well. People like to indulge in ethnic dressing up of their homes.
In the recent years, home décor items have seen an increase in the embroidered linens. Hand embroidered bed sheets have never gone out of fashion. To create an ethnic look and feel for the bedroom, one chooses embroidered linens. Bed sheets, pillow covers, bedspreads, table runners, curtains, etc., all come in various embroidered patterns. One can easily decorate ones house with embroidered furnishings. The manner in which these home are kept, speak much about the taste of the host. With embroidery works one has to be careful about the kinds of colour palette to engage in. Mixing and mashing too many styles of embroidery could be a catastrophe. From wanting to decorate your interiors, you might end up actually spoiling the look making it too crowded and showing uneducated taste.
Moving on from bedroom to the drawing room, let’s jump to table linens. Tables are not only functional pieces but also things of beauty. Be it a corner table, centre table, or a dinning able, embroidered table linens come in all shapes and size. Adorn your tables with carefully picked, colour co-ordinated linens.
In table linens, embroidered napkins especially look really chic. It gives an impression of a carefully decorated home where everything is thought of, in terms of decoration, to the tee. If you make sure that even napkins are well thought of, you can be rest assured that your house will always create a lasting impression on your guests’ minds.
For the living room Divan or sofa set, embroidered cushion covers will go along with similar sofa back and they look very fine. A comfort-furniture that sofa is, it is also the first thing that your guests will use when they enter your house. They usually touch and feel the fabric because it is unavoidable to do so. A sofa set in embroidered covers makes it look cozy, yet classy. If the sofa on which your guests sit is comfy enough, then half the battle of making your guests comfortable has been won.
Ethnic look for home décor is very accessible these days, thanks to the big home stores selling these and the brands that are making them. It is a good business model that preserves and promotes the desi embroidery on such a large platform.The quality is ensured and the craftsmen get their due. Decorating your home in Indian embroidery speaks of more than just taste; it speaks of your appreciation of ethnic beauty of your own culture and your diversity in taste which living in India provides you with.