Difference Between Chikankari and Lucknowi Embroidery

Understanding the Difference Between Chikankari and Lucknowi Embroidery

Embroidery is a form of art that weaves cultural narratives into the fabric, and India is home to a plethora of such embroidery styles. Among these, Chikankari and Lucknowi embroidery stand out for their intricate designs and rich history. While they are often used interchangeably, it is essential to understand the subtle differences between the two. Let's delve into the nuances that set Chikankari and Lucknowi embroidery apart.

Chikankari: An Ancient Art Form

**1. Origins: Chikankari is believed to have originated in the Mughal era, with Empress Noor Jahan credited for popularizing this beautiful craft in India. It traces its roots back to Persia, from where it was brought to India.

**2. Technique: Chikankari is a form of hand embroidery that involves intricate needlework on a variety of fabrics such as cotton, muslin, silk, and chiffon. The process begins with block printing the design on the fabric, which is then meticulously embroidered using various stitches.

**3. Stitches: Chikankari employs around 32 different types of stitches, with some of the most popular ones being:

  • Tepchi: A running stitch used as a base for other stitches.
  • Bakhiya: Also known as shadow work, it involves herringbone stitches on the backside of the fabric.
  • Phanda: Knotted stitches resembling small dots.
  • Jali: A complex stitch that creates a mesh-like appearance.

**4. Motifs: The motifs in Chikankari are inspired by Mughal art, featuring floral patterns, paisleys, and vine designs. These motifs exude elegance and are often intricate and delicate.

**5. Usage: Chikankari is predominantly used in creating traditional Indian wear such as sarees, kurtis, and dupattas. It is also used in modern fashion, including dresses, tops, and accessories.

Lucknowi Embroidery: A Regional Speciality

**1. Geographical Indication: Lucknowi embroidery refers to the Chikankari work that originates specifically from Lucknow, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh. The term "Lucknowi" signifies the geographical indication of the craft.

**2. Cultural Significance: Lucknowi embroidery holds cultural significance as it is deeply rooted in the heritage of Lucknow. The city is renowned for its skilled artisans who have preserved and propagated this art form over generations.

**3. Craftsmanship: Artisans in Lucknow are known for their exceptional craftsmanship in Chikankari. The intricate designs and the finesse of their work make Lucknowi embroidery highly sought after.

**4. Fabric Choices: While Chikankari can be done on various fabrics, Lucknowi Chikankari is predominantly seen on lighter fabrics like cotton and muslin, which are well-suited for the hot and humid climate of the region.

**5. Modern Adaptations: Lucknowi embroidery has seen modern adaptations in fashion, making its way into contemporary clothing and accessories. Designers often incorporate this traditional craft into modern silhouettes, blending tradition with modernity.

Key Differences:

**1. Scope and Origin:

  • Chikankari: Refers to the embroidery technique itself, originating from Persia and popularized during the Mughal era.
  • Lucknowi: Refers to Chikankari work done specifically in Lucknow, highlighting the geographical indication.

**2. Cultural Context:

  • Chikankari: A broad term for the embroidery style without geographical restrictions.
  • Lucknowi: Emphasizes the cultural and historical significance of the craft as practiced in Lucknow.

**3. Artisanal Skill:

  • Chikankari: Can be done by artisans from various regions.
  • Lucknowi: Renowned for the superior craftsmanship of Lucknow's artisans.


In essence, while Chikankari and Lucknowi embroidery are closely related, the key distinction lies in their geographical indication and cultural context. Chikankari is the broader term for the embroidery technique, whereas Lucknowi refers to the exquisite Chikankari work originating from Lucknow. Both forms celebrate the intricate art of needlework, preserving a rich heritage that continues to enchant fashion enthusiasts around the world. Whether you choose a Chikankari or a Lucknowi piece, you are embracing a timeless tradition that embodies the elegance and artistry of Indian craftsmanship..

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