Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter

Wikimedia Commons

Chikankari is world-famous for its intricacy and beauty.

Lucknow, a city filled with the mystic beauty of its traditional arts and crafts that have been nurtured for centuries and continues to flourish. The rich Indian history becomes visible as one takes a walk in the lanes of Lucknow. From humble tea stalls to sizzling kebabs and the endless beauty of mesmerizing Chikankari fabric. It is a place with diverse art and culture that have evolved over the centuries. It is the birthplace of world-famous delicate embroidery, Chikankari. The Chikan work in Lucknow is older than 200 years and later it was patronized by Nawabs. There are approximately 5000 families involved in the Chikankari embroidery industry, in and around the villages of Lucknow. The majority of artisans belong to the local Muslim community.

Chikan translates to the word 'embroidery'. It is simple and precise handwork on a piece of garment. The technique gives a garment a very subtle and classy feel. Chinakari is an eminent craft amongst various other handloom specialities of India, which has been popular amongst most renowned people from royalties in ancient India to celebrities of today. The main essence of the garment is its simple design, and while motifs are now added to make the garment look rich, it remains a simple and affordable fabric choice. Chikankari is world-famous for its intricacy and beauty.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook to stay updated.

The origin story of Chikankari says that it can be traced back to the early 3rd century BC, when Megasthenes, a Greek traveller mentioned the used muslin by Indians. Another story goes as a traveller was passing Lucknow he asked a poor peasant for water. The peasant provided the traveller with water, hospitality, love and service. In return for his kindness and affection, the traveller taught the peasant the art of Chikankari, so that he won't ever have to be hungry and could earn a living. However, the most credible tale of the origin of Chikankari is associated with Mughal Queen Noorjahan, wife of King Jahangir. It is believed that she introduced Persian art in the 17th century. She taught this form of embroidery and was an outstanding embroideress herself. Due to her keen interest in the art, King Jahangir also developed an interest in embroidery and thus established several workshops to perfect this art in India.

Chikan embroidery on a saree Every stitch is done to perfection. Wikimedia Commons

Traditionally the embroidery was done with white thread on a white mulmul fabric by hand. But nowadays chikan embroidery is also done with coloured and silk threads in colours to meet the fashion trends and keep chikankari up-to-date. Chikankari is also known as shadow work. It is an intricate and elegant art of embroidery pursued with a needle on a piece of fabric. The needlework requires time and patience, and that's why the final product appears appealing. Modern chikan pieces are embellished and adorned with sequin, beads and mirror work to enrich their appearance.

Lucknow is the heart of the chikankari industry and the pieces made here are known as Lucknawi chikan. Chikankari is one of the most distinctive ways of designing fabric. The arduous process to design one piece of the garment makes it unique. The process includes designing, engraving, and block printing the design motifs on the fabric, doing embroidery over it by hand and lastly washing the cloth several times for it to be ready to be used.

ALSO READ: Bangles, Bracelets, Woman

One of the most prominent features of the Lucknow chikankari is the stitches. Every stitch is done to perfection. Thus, the level of neatness in the work is hard to find in the embroidery done by machine or any other place. The delicate and artfully done hand embroidery gives the garment a look of richness and skillfulness. The elegance and hard to achieve perfection in Lucknawi Chikankari capture the whole essence of the city of Nawabs.

Keywords: Embroidery, chikan, Lucknow, cloth, artisan


Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Pickles bottled in various combinations

India is known for its pickles, popularly called 'Achaar', even across the world. But who thought about the idea of pickles in the first place? Apparently, the idea of making pickles first came from the ancient civilisation of Mesopotamia, where archaeologists have found evidence of cucumbers being soaked in vinegar. This was done to preserve it, but the practice has spread all over the world today, that pickles mean so much more than just preserved vegetables.

In India, the idea of pickle has nothing to do with preservation, rather pickle is a side dish that adds flavour and taste to almost anything. In Punjab, parathas are served with pickle; in the south, pickle and curd rice is a household favourite, and in Andhra, it is a staple, eaten with everything. The flavour profile of pickles in each state is naturally different, suited to each cuisine's taste. Pickles are soaked in oil and salt for at least a month, mixed with spices and stored all year round. Mango season is often synonymous with pickle season as a majority of Indians love mango pickle. In the coastal cities, pickles are even made out of fish and prawns.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Spiral bound notebooks allow writers to easily access each part of the page

It is impossible to detail the history of bookbinding without understanding the need for it. A very useful, and yet simple invention, spiral coils that hold books together and allow mobile access to the user came about just before WWII, but much before that, paper underwent a massive change in production technique.

Beginning in China, paper was made of bamboo sticks slit open and flattened. In Egypt, papyrus was made from the reeds that grew in the Nile. In India, long, rectangular strips of palm leaves were stitched together to form legible documents. When monasteries were established, scrolls came into being. Parchment paper, or animal hide, also known as vellum, were used to copy out texts periodically to preserve them. Prior to all this, clay tablets were used to record important events, and in some cases, rock edicts were made.

Keep Reading Show less

Devina Singhania, the Founder of 'LE JAHAAN', a local home and decor accessories company, explains how the gifting paradigm has shifted.

By N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe

To keep the value and quality of what you offer, whether it's a romantic breakfast in bed or a royal wedding gift that will be remembered for years. The concept of gift-giving has taken on a number of shapes in today's society. Devina Singhania, the Founder of 'LE JAHAAN', a local home and decor accessories company, explains how the gifting paradigm has shifted.

Q: What do consumers expect from the gifting business and packaging designers these days?

A: Today's consumers are expecting more minimal sustainable products, designs and mediums. They are now more conscious about how their purchase affects the environment. Considering this shift in consumer buying, it's extremely important for companies to increase their commitments to responsible business practices and design products that are meant to be reused or recycled.

person holding white and red gift box Today's consumers are expecting more minimal sustainable products, designs and mediums. | Photo by Superkitina on Unsplash

Keep reading... Show less