A Stitch in Time: The History of Lucknowi Chikankari - Inayakhan Shop

A Stitch in Time: The History of Lucknowi Chikankari

In the heart of India, in the city of Lucknow, lies a timeless art form that has woven its threads into the rich tapestry of Indian culture - Lucknowi Chikankari. This delicate and intricate form of embroidery has a history as fascinating as its aesthetics. Join us on a journey through time as we unravel the captivating history of Lucknowi Chikankari.

The Mughal Influence

The story of Chikankari begins during the reign of the Mughal Empire in India, around the 16th century. It is said that the art form was introduced to India by none other than Empress Noor Jahan, the wife of Emperor Jahangir. A lover of fine craftsmanship, she recognized the potential of Chikankari and its ability to adorn clothing in a way that transcended mere fabric.

The word "Chikankari" itself is believed to be derived from the Persian word "chikan," which means "elegant patterns on fabric." The Mughal emperors and empresses were known for their patronage of the arts, and Chikankari soon found its place in the royal courts. It was during this time that the art form truly flourished.

The Nawabi Era and Refinement

As the Mughal Empire waned, the city of Lucknow rose to prominence under the Nawabs of Awadh. Lucknow became the epicenter of Chikankari embroidery. The Nawabs were not just rulers but also avid connoisseurs of art and culture. They played a pivotal role in shaping and refining the Chikankari tradition.

Under the Nawabs' patronage, Chikankari evolved into a more sophisticated and intricate form of embroidery. The delicate stitches and patterns became even more refined, and Chikankari garments gained a reputation for their elegance and beauty. The art form began to mirror the refined tastes of the Lucknowi aristocracy.

The Craftsmanship Behind Chikankari

Chikankari is not merely a craft but a labor-intensive art form that demands precision and skill. The process involves several stages:

Designing: Artisans sketch the design onto the fabric, ensuring precision and symmetry.

Block Printing: Wooden blocks are used to imprint the design onto the fabric.

Embroidery: Skilled artisans hand-embroider the design using various stitches, such as the flat stitch, shadow work, and the famous 'taipchi' stitch. Each stitch adds depth and texture to the pattern.

Washing and Starching: After embroidery, the fabric is washed to remove any pencil marks or block prints. It is then starched to maintain its crispness.

Final Touch: The finished fabric is carefully cut, tailored, and sometimes embellished with sequins or beads for added glamour.

The process is time-consuming and requires years of practice to master. Each piece of Chikankari is a testament to the artisan's dedication and craftsmanship.

Chikankari Today: A Heritage Craft

Today, Chikankari is not just a craft but a symbol of Lucknow's cultural heritage. It has transcended time and borders to become a global fashion statement. Designers and fashion enthusiasts worldwide are enamored by its elegance and timeless appeal.

In Lucknow, Chikankari is not just a craft but a way of life. It provides employment opportunities to countless artisans, especially women, who have taken up Chikankari as a means of livelihood. It is also an integral part of Lucknow's festivals, weddings, and daily wear, continuing to connect generations through its threads.


The history of Lucknowi Chikankari is a testament to the enduring appeal of artistic traditions. From the Mughal emperors to the Nawabs of Lucknow and beyond, Chikankari has captured the hearts of all who have encountered its intricate beauty.

As we admire Chikankari today, we pay homage to the artisans and rulers who have stitched their legacy into the fabric of history. It is a stitch in time that continues to enchant and inspire, reminding us of the exquisite artistry that defines Lucknowi Chikankari.

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