Chikan: Lucknow's Embroidered Best

Chikan: Lucknow's Embroidered Best
Chikankari is Lucknow’s most ancient and well-known art forms Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Let this 400-year-old traditional embroidery style from Lucknow be your inspiration to visit the city. Here's what you need to know about Chikankari

Precious Kamei
February 21 , 2019
02 Min Read

In December 2008, the Geographical Indication Registry gave the Lucknow Chikan the GI status. Now a GI tagged item, the Chikan embroidery work has put the already popular Lucknow, the city of Nawabs, on the global map and on every culture-trip enthusiast's list. The embroidery style is as complicated as they come. Not only time consuming, Lucknow Chikan embroidery is also a work of a skilled artisan. Apparently, a skilled artisan gets trained upto 20 years!

The art form is believed to have been introduced by the Mughal emperor Jahangir's wife Nur Jehan. It is believed that the art form originated from the distant land of Persia by the Mughals. Back in the day, the designs were made on muslin (mulmul) for better result and comfort during the hot days.


There are 36 types of stitches that an embroiderer has to know when dealing with chikan. But before the hand and thread can do their magic, the piece of cloth has to go through Block Printing whereby, the initial design or motiffs are drawn. Then comes the Embroidery phase where the artisan does the needle work, one frame at a time. Since there are many types of stitches, it's upto the artisan what he makes. Some are region influenced and some by motiffs. And finally, Washing. During this stage, the patterns marked during block printing are removed by washing. 

Embroidery work in progressOne aspect of Chikan embroidery stands out—the floral patterns or motiff, paisley to be precise. Isn't that so Persian!! And did you also know that initially, Chikankari started off as a white-on-white work? Meaning, white embroidery work on a white muslin. But with the passage of time came more demands of designs and colours.
When in Lucknow, especially in Chowk, you will find a number of shops selling these gorgeous work of art. Won't you get one of these on your next visit? They make for a good souvenir too, we heard.
How to Reach Lucknow
Lucknow is connected via air, rail and road. There are easy connections to Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport Lucknow from all major cities in India. Nearest railheads are Lucknow Charbagh Railway Station and Lucknow Junction.

Related Articles

Carnatic Music Festivals...

Nikita Nikhil May 02 , 2020

A Julley Good Time...

Manek S. Kohli January 18 , 2023

Here to there

Explore Directions(Routes) and more...
to Go

Our Other Editions

Outlook’ is India’s most vibrant weekly news magazine with critically and globally acclaimed print and digital editions. Now in its 23rd year...

Explore All
  • Check out our Magazine of the month
  • Offbeat destinations
  • In-depth storytelling
  • Stunning pictures
  • Subscribe