Indian embroidery-Chikankari of Uttar Pradesh

White on white embroidery
White on white embroidery
White on white embroidery
White on white embroidery
details of jaali work and the murri stitch
details of jaali work and the murri stitch
Chickankari on colored fabric, but embroider is always in white.
Chickankari on colored fabric, but embroider is always in white.
phanda stitch
phanda stitch

CHICKANKARI Of Uttar Pradesh

It is said that Chickan work originates in lucknow. There are two stories told about the origin of this Embroidery, the first one is that a traveller while passing through the village in a hot season asked for water from Ustad Mammad Shain Khan- who was a farmer staying near Lucknow. He took pity on the traveller and offered him rest in his home before resuming the journey. The Traveller was so pleased with the hospitality that he promised to teach him an art which would never let him go hungry. The traveller then trained him and the art of Chickankari and after he had mastered the technique the traveller disappeared. It is believed that the traveller was sent by God.

The second story states that Princess of Murshidabad, married to the Nawab of Oudh, embroidered a cap for him worked with cotton thread on white muslin, and presented it to him. The other inmates of the harem were jealous and thus started to compete with her.

It is also believed that Noor Jahan may have introduced the art, influenced by turkish embroidery.

Places:-Nowadays Chickankari is seen in Bhopal, Calcutta, Allahabad, Varanasi and Lucknow.

Chickankari is also called White Embroidery mostly done in white thread on white fabric. (white on white). These days other colored fabrics are also available, but the embroidery remains in white.

Pattern are printed on to the fabric from wooden blocks in a washable dye.

There are 2 types of Chickankari- 1)flat style 2)embossed style.

Stitches used are:- 1) Tipkhi- simple darning stitch used in inferior type of work. Used for outlines and running designs. It is flat style of chickankaari.

2) Khatawa or Khalao- this is applique work made on white calico material, it is not done on fine muslin, exceedingly intricate, belongs to flat style of chickankari.

3) Bukhia- consists of inverted satin stitch with the design outlined on the right side and the thread is chiefly below the cloth also called shadow work, as stitches are seen on the back giving an opaque effect.

4) Murri- this falls under embossed knotted style. Murri means rice shape, it is usually done on muslin. Murri is worked at the centre of the flowers, the stitch is french knot.

5) Phanda- resembles grain like the millet, this is also embossed knotted style, smaller and shorter form of kumi, used to fill petals or leaves in a pattern.

6) Jali- this means net and is somewhat like thread work: done by breaking the fabric into holes and not by drawing out threads but warp and weft threads are pulled apart with a needle and tightened to give the cloth the appearance of a net.

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Comments 6 comments

tezgah 6 years ago

I weave kilim. So I know how difficult to make it. But can be very relaxing.

Vibhavari profile image

Vibhavari 6 years ago from India Author

Hi tezgah,

Thank you for stopping by! Anything that you create with interest, love and passion, is very relaxing, no matter how intricate it may be.

anita 6 years ago

can u plz tell me d source of this information

Vibhavari profile image

Vibhavari 6 years ago from India Author

Hi anita,

Thanks for stopping by.

This information is from my old journal and notes from my professor when I was studying in college over 20 years ago. I do not know where my professor got her information from. Some of the pictures are of samples that I myself have embroidered for my old journal.

hope this helps.

Have a nice day.

sharanbahra 6 years ago


I think your designs are great. Can you tell me where I can get zari and aari embroidery needles?


Vibhavari profile image

Vibhavari 6 years ago from India Author

Hi sharanbahra,

Thank you for your feedback. You will have to look for those needles at your local market. Where I live, there are 'karagirs' and shops that do this kind of embroidery. Those people know where to get the needles. Similarly, you locate an embroidery shop in your locality and ask them to get you the needles.

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