Indian Chikan work can be found mentioned, as early in the 3rd century BC. Megasthenes, a Greek traveler, praised the use of indian muslin by Indians. There are different versions as to the origin of Chikankari Sarees in India. It is said that a traveler, who was passing through a village in Lucknow, stopped and requested a poor peasant for water. Delighted at the hospitality of the peasant, the traveler taught him the art of Chikankari another story is that it was patronised by King Jahangir’s queen Noorjahan and she propagated its use in Lucknow. Women in want of money would do the bhaqya work and it was considered very menial but it was a means of existence. Even today the workforce consists of women. Lucknow city is the hub for this trade. Lucknow is the most renowned place for Chikankari work. The stitches were mostly done on white – on – white but now the canvas could be coloured cotton or silk. The main stitches used are:
1) Flat Stitches (Subtle stitches that remain close to the fabric)
2) Embossed Stitches (they give a grainy appearance)
3) Jali Work (Created by thread tension, it gives a delicate net effect)
Indian Chikankari silk saree basically consists of a number of processes, embroidery, washing and finishing. Cutting and stitching are done by the same person. Then, printing is undertaken with wooden blocks dipped in dye. After this, embroidery is done, usually by women. The last step in the Chikankari embroidery work sarees is washing and finishing, which may take from 10 to 12 days and involves bleaching, acid treatment, stiffening and ironing. The most common motif used in Chikankari work of Lucknow is that of creepers. Floral motifs, which are used either throughout the garment or in corners, include jasmine, rose, flowering stems in jals.