Chikan ( persian meaning embroidery) Chikankari is an ancient from of white floral embroidery, intricately worked with needle and raw thread. Its delicacy is mesmeric. For centuries, this fine white tracery on transparent white fabric has delighted the heart of king and commoner alike. It is centred mainly in the northern heartland of India, namely Lucknow, the capital of a large state, called Uttar Pradesh. It has survived the loss of royal patronage, suffered deeply at the hands of commercialization, lost its way sometimes in mediocrity and yet stayed alive, is a tribute to the skill and will of the crafts persons who have handed down this technique from one generation to another. Today, This delicate form of embroidery is traditionally practiced in and around the city of Lucknow.
Like many other art forms and the huge demand of the Chikankari in the International market and art lovers the cheap imitation of Chikankari is now done with the help of machines. This cheap quality of machine Chikan ( Look a like) embroidery for obvious reasons has mass production capacity and hence been dumped in to global markets in the name of Chikankari.
Local hand made Chikan manufacturers from Lucknow do not fear this growing market. Faiz Farooqui from Unique Chikan, Lucknow, one of the first company to go online promoting Chikan to global markets and has been contributing to the promotion of the Chikankari art globally said "there are a variety of designs and stitches that are available in the hand made Chikan work which cannot be made by the Chinese machine made Chikan ( Look a like) fabrics. He further added that a Hand made Chikankari lover would always prefer the genuine stuff over cheap imitation".
Manufacturers is Lucknow continue growing production since they known this is very short term invention and soon will be exposed to customers as cheap and fake Chikan ( Look a like) machine embroidery work.
NEGATIVES WITH MACHINE CHIKAN EMBROIDERY.
There is a limited number of stitches which is possible to do with a machine and is mostly around BAKHIYA and shadow. but there are are 32 most used stitches in Chikanakri which is not possible to do via machine. Machine Chikan embroidery is not able to replace the intricate stitch pattern even in the 2-3 stitch variants it is able to make.
- DESIGN PATTERNS
Chikan hand embroidery is also known for the placement of motifs and design which are in thousands of patterns of permutation and combinations, which would always have the local touch in them and can not be copied by Chikan ( Look a like) machine embroidery. Chikan embroidery without the local Pasley , Lucknowi MEHRABS, tree BAILS, JAALI, PHANDA, DARAJ, work cannot be imagined.
- USE OF MULTIPLE FABRICS
The fabric used for machine Chikan embroidery is mostly lawn/cotton low quality and high end fabrics are avoided and mostly not present.
IMPACT ON ART AND INDUSTRY
Cheap imitation of Chikan hand embroidery is done by machines like most other products by Chinese manufacturer and it would have a lot of impact on the present hand made Chikankari ecosystem.
- With Chikan ( Look a like) machine embroidery being dumped in the market on the daily basis, less aware customers would thinking it to be authentic Chikanakri and fall for it due to price concerns... This would make the real art not reach the masses and eventually would die.
- Most of the Chikan artisans are women who make this art to support their household needs. This would directly impact their living.
- When machine Chikan ( Look a like) embroidery becomes easily available to most , there would be very little comparison between machine embroidered Chikan ( Look a like) and other machine embroidery since it would all look the same, which is like the systematic killing of the art form
HAND MADE CHIKAN LOVERS
There are still a while lot of handmade Chikankari lovers who can very easily make out the difference between the machine embroidered and hand embroidered Chikankari. It is the love for the stitches and intricacy of work which makes Chikankari being loved as an art form. The moment it is made by machines it no longer stays Chikan work but a cheap imitation of the same.
Make sure you are informed about the REAL handmade Chikankari when you make a purchase.