Chikankari: The Art of Sublime Hand Embroidery in Indian Kurtis - Inayakhan Shop

Chikankari: The Art of Sublime Hand Embroidery in Indian Kurtis

India is a land of diverse cultures, traditions, and exquisite art forms. Among these, one art form that stands out for its timeless beauty and elegance is Chikankari.

This hand embroidery technique, originating from the city of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, has graced Indian clothing, particularly kurtis, with its delicate and intricate designs for centuries.

In this blog, we will delve deep into the art of Chikankari and its profound influence on Indian fashion, especially the world of kurtis.

The Origins of Chikankari

Chikankari has a rich history dating back to the Mughal era, where it was patronized by emperors and empresses. The word "Chikankari" is derived from the Persian word "Chikan," meaning embroidery. This art form is known for its fine, white-on-white embroidery, which often adorns fabric, creating a sublime and ethereal effect.

The Technique Behind Chikankari

Chikankari is a hand embroidery technique that involves intricate and delicate thread work. The process typically begins with the design, which is transferred onto the fabric using a washable pencil or charcoal. The artisan then creates a series of stitches, each with its unique name and purpose, to bring the design to life.

Some of the most commonly used stitches in Chikankari include:

Taipchi: This is the most basic and widely used stitch in Chikankari, involving simple running stitches.

Bakhiya: Known as the shadow work, Bakhiya involves filling the outlined pattern with herringbone stitches, creating a shadow effect on the reverse side of the fabric.

Phanda: This involves creating tiny knots on the fabric to add texture and dimension to the design.

Keel Kangan: A more complex stitch, Keel Kangan involves creating raised paisley or floral motifs.

Jali: Jali is a technique of creating intricate and delicate mesh-like patterns on the fabric.

Chikankari Patterns and Motifs

Chikankari designs are a testament to the artistry and skill of the artisans. The motifs commonly seen in Chikankari include flowers, paisleys, birds, and geometric patterns. Each motif has its own symbolism and significance, making Chikankari not just an art form but also a form of storytelling.

The Popularity of Chikankari Kurtis

Chikankari has found a special place in the hearts of fashion enthusiasts, particularly in the form of kurtis. The charm of Chikankari kurtis lies in their versatility. They can be worn casually, at work, or even for festive occasions. The intricate handwork adds a touch of elegance to the simplest of outfits.

Styling Chikankari Kurtis

One of the reasons for the enduring popularity of Chikankari kurtis is their versatility in styling. Here are some tips on how to style Chikankari kurtis:

Casual Chic: Pair your Chikankari kurti with jeans or leggings for a comfortable yet stylish everyday look.

Festive Elegance: Choose a heavily embroidered Chikankari kurti for festive occasions, and pair it with statement jewelry and traditional footwear.

Formal Flair: Opt for a Chikankari kurti in muted colors and pair it with tailored pants or a skirt for a sophisticated office look.

Bohemian Vibes: Embrace the boho-chic trend by pairing a flowy Chikankari kurti with flared pants and accessories like jute bags and wooden bangles.

The Enduring Legacy of Chikankari

Chikankari continues to be an integral part of Indian fashion, and its influence extends beyond kurtis to sarees, lehengas, and even contemporary western wear. The craftsmanship and attention to detail that go into creating Chikankari pieces are a testament to the rich heritage of Indian textiles and artistry.


Chikankari, with its exquisite hand embroidery and timeless beauty, has rightfully earned its place in the world of Indian fashion. The delicate artistry that goes into creating Chikankari kurtis adds a touch of elegance and grace to any wardrobe.

So, the next time you don a Chikankari kurti, you can appreciate not only its beauty but also the centuries-old art form that it represents, connecting us to India's rich cultural heritage.

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