Chikan or chikan ki Kadai is the traditional embroidery style from Lucknow, India. The word Chikankari literally means 'Embroidery'. It is one of Lucknow's oldest and best textile decoration styles. It came to India as part of the culture of Persian nobles through Mughal courts, where the white on white embroidery was introduced.


Chikankari work can be done on a variety of fabrics such as muslin, silk, chiffon, organza, net, etc. The hand embroidery which is done on these fabrics is fragile and artistic. Earlier, white coloured cotton threads were used to do embroidery on a cool and light pastel shade fabrics. But, these days it is done with colourful cotton and silk threads over like / similar fabrics to make chikankari trendy and fashionable.

What is special about Chikankari embroidery?

Chikan embroidery is mostly done on fine fabrics like cotton, semi-Georgette, pure Georgette, crepe, chiffon, silk or any other fabric which is light and which highlights the embroidery. The fabric needs to be delicate it cannot be too thick or hard, else the embroidery needle won't pierce it. Chikankari has added the embellishments like Mukaish, Kamdani, Badla, sequin, bead and mirror work, which makes it look lustrous. These are the artful decorative designs which are finally engraved on the textile fabric.

How is Chikankari done?

The process to weave chikankari has various steps. First, the design of the weave is chosen. Then the process begins with block-printing a pattern where one or more patterns are used on the light base fabric. Then the embroiderer intricately crafts the pattern by stitching it with a light cotton thread and then finally the fabric is washed to remove the colour of printing. The thickness of the thread and the stitches defines the patterns and the effect created by it.

Kind of Stitches

There are various Chikankari embroidery stitches done on the fabrics. Few of the stitches include backstitch, chain stitch and hemstitch where it results in openwork pattern, jali or shadow work. Chikankari consists of 32 kind of stitches in which the topmost are:

  1. Tepchi - It is art and skill of hand embroidery where a long-running or darning stitch worked with six strands on the right side of the fabric taken over four threads and picking up one. Thus, a line is formed. It is used principally as a basis for further stitchery and occasionally to form a simple shape. IT is also known as Taipchi or Tipkhi stitch.
  2. Bakhiya - Bhakia which means shadow work is one of the topmost stitches of chikankari. The bakhiya stitch is also known as shadow work because in this the embroidery is done on the opposite side of the chikankari kurta or saree or dupatta and it results in the shadow on the right side.
  3. Hool- It is a fine detached eyelet stitch. A hole is punched in the fabric and the threads are put apart. It is then held by small straight stitches all around and worked with one thread on the right side of the fabric. It can be worked with six threads and often forms the centre of a flower
  4. Murri - It is the form of stitch used to embroider the centre of the flowers in chikan work motifs. They are typically French knots that are rice-shaped. Murri is the oldest and most sought-after form of chikankari. The use of this stitch is depleting due to a decrease in the artisans doing this embroidery.
  5. Jali - This stitch is the one where the thread is never drawn through the fabric, ensuring that the back portion of the garment looks as impeccable as the front. The warp and weft threads are carefully drawn apart and minute buttonhole stitches are inserted into the cloth.

    At Weaveinindia, embrass your classy handwoven kurtas in ulti bakhiya and murri stitches. We also have designer spellbinding chikankari dupatta in very delicate colours such as off[-white, pastel peach, yellow, sap green, light coral etc. The kurta and dupattas are adorned with beautiful floral and keel Kangan motifs. Coordinate the dupattas with the kurta to bring out a great look.