The Artistry of Chikankari: A Closer Look at Lucknow's Heritage Craft - Inayakhan Shop

The Artistry of Chikankari: A Closer Look at Lucknow's Heritage Craft

India is a treasure trove of rich cultural heritage and artistic traditions. Among the many exquisite crafts that have thrived for centuries, Chikankari stands out as a gem in the crown of Indian craftsmanship.

Hailing from the city of Lucknow, Chikankari is an art form that seamlessly weaves elegance and intricacy into every piece, creating timeless and ethereal garments.

In this blog, we take a closer look at the artistry of Chikankari, exploring its history, techniques, and enduring appeal.

A Glimpse into History

Chikankari, often referred to as "shadow work embroidery," has its roots deeply embedded in the soil of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Its history can be traced back to the Mughal era, during the reign of Emperor Akbar in the 16th century. It is believed that the craft was introduced to India by Persian artisans who were invited to the Mughal court. Over the centuries, Chikankari flourished and evolved into a quintessentially Indian art form.

Techniques that Define Chikankari

Chikankari is characterized by its delicate and intricate embroidery work that is done by hand. The process involves several steps:

Design Creation:

It all begins with the design. Skilled artisans draw intricate patterns on a piece of fabric, often using a pencil or a charcoal stick.

Block Printing:

Once the design is in place, wooden blocks are used to print the outline of the pattern on the fabric. This serves as a guideline for the embroiderers.


The heart of Chikankari lies in its embroidery. Artisans use a variety of stitches, including the famous "shadow work," to create exquisite patterns. Some of the commonly used stitches are backstitch, chain stitch, and satin stitch. The artistry lies in the precise execution of these stitches, creating a play of light and shadow on the fabric.

Washing and Finishing:

After the embroidery is complete, the fabric is washed to remove any traces of the design. This reveals the true beauty of Chikankari, as the embroidery becomes more prominent against the fabric.

Types of Chikankari

Chikankari is not limited to one style. Over time, various styles and forms have emerged, each with its unique charm. Some of the popular types include:


This style involves creating small, raised dots on the fabric using needlework. It adds texture and depth to the embroidery.


Jali work is characterized by delicate net-like patterns created by removing the threads from the fabric, leaving behind small holes. It requires exceptional precision and skill.


Phanda, or knot work, involves creating small, intricate knots with the thread. This style is often used to embellish floral motifs.

Enduring Appeal of Chikankari

Chikankari has transcended the boundaries of time and geography to become a global phenomenon. Its timeless elegance and exquisite craftsmanship make it a sought-after choice for a wide range of garments, from sarees and salwar suits to kurtas and dupattas. Whether it's a traditional wedding ensemble or a contemporary fusion outfit, Chikankari adds a touch of sophistication and grace.

Moreover, Chikankari has also found its place in the world of high fashion. Renowned designers have embraced this heritage craft, incorporating it into their collections and showcasing its versatility on international runways.

Preserving the Heritage

In recent years, efforts have been made to preserve and promote the art of Chikankari. Various government and non-government initiatives have been launched to provide training and employment opportunities to artisans, ensuring that this exquisite craft continues to thrive for generations to come.


Chikankari is not merely a craft; it is a testament to the artistic brilliance and cultural richness of India. With its timeless beauty and enduring appeal, Chikankari has captured the hearts of people around the world.

It reminds us of the importance of preserving and celebrating our heritage crafts, for they are the threads that connect us to our past and weave the fabric of our cultural identity.

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