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Difference Between Chikankari and Lucknowi

Difference Between Chikankari and Lucknowi: Unraveling the Intricate Threads of Indian Embroidery

Indian embroidery has a rich tapestry of traditions, each boasting its unique charm and history. Among the myriad styles, Chikankari and Lucknowi stand out as two exquisite forms of needlework that have captured the world’s attention. Both renowned for their intricate patterns and fine craftsmanship, they are often used interchangeably, leading to confusion. In this article, we will delve deep into the difference between Chikankari and Lucknowi to unravel their distinct characteristics, history, and significance in the world of fashion.

1.Origin and History

To understand the difference between Chikankari and Lucknowi, it is essential to explore their origins and historical roots.

Chikankari: Chikankari, meaning ‘white embroidery’ in Persian, finds its roots in the Persian and Mughal era. It is believed to have been introduced in India by the Mughal emperors, who were enamored by the delicate handiwork they witnessed during their travels. The craft soon flourished in Awadh (now known as Uttar Pradesh), particularly in cities like Lucknow, where it became an essential part of the local culture.

Lucknowi: On the other hand, Lucknowi embroidery is a more contemporary term that refers to the specific style of Chikankari embroidery developed in Lucknow. While Chikankari has its origins in Persia and Mughal India, Lucknowi embroidery is a regional variation that emerged and thrived in Lucknow, hence the name. It embodies the local aesthetics and preferences, contributing to its distinct identity.

2.Techniques and Stitches

Chikankari and Lucknowi embroidery showcase intricate patterns and designs. However, the techniques and stitches employed in each style set them apart.

Chikankari: Chikankari primarily employs six basic stitches, including ‘taipchi,’ ‘bakhia,’ ‘phanda,’ ‘murri,’ ‘jali,’ and ‘keel kangan.’ These stitches are known for their finesse and are used to create various motifs and patterns. The most distinctive feature of Chikankari is the use of white thread on sheer, lightweight fabrics like muslin, voile, or chiffon.

Lucknowi: While Chikankari forms the foundation of Lucknowi embroidery, it also incorporates additional stitches and techniques. Lucknowi embroidery often involves more elaborate and complex stitches, such as ‘zardozi’ (metallic embroidery) and ‘aari’ (chain stitch). These techniques add a touch of opulence to the traditional Chikankari style, giving Lucknowi its unique charm.

3.Motifs and Designs

Another notable difference between Chikankari and Lucknowi lies in the motifs and designs they feature.

Chikankari: Chikankari typically emphasizes delicate, nature-inspired motifs, including flowers, birds, paisleys, and creepers. These designs are characterized by their subtlety and simplicity, reflecting the Persian and Mughal influences that have shaped this embroidery style. The emphasis is on achieving an elegant, timeless look.

Lucknowi: Lucknowi embroidery often showcases a wider array of motifs, incorporating both traditional Chikankari elements and more intricate, opulent designs. While the core Chikankari motifs remain a significant part of Lucknowi embroidery, you can also find patterns that include heavier embellishments and metallic thread work. This fusion of styles gives Lucknowi a distinct flair that sets it apart from traditional Chikankari.

4.Color Palette

Chikankari and Lucknowi also differ in terms of the color palette they utilize.

Chikankari: The hallmark of Chikankari is its pristine white threadwork on a pale, sheer fabric. This monochromatic color scheme lends an air of timeless elegance and simplicity to Chikankari pieces. The focus on white-on-white embroidery enhances the craft’s ethereal beauty, making it suitable for various occasions, from casual to formal.

Lucknowi: In contrast, Lucknowi embroidery is not limited to a monochromatic palette. While it retains the essence of Chikankari, Lucknowi often incorporates colorful threads and occasionally even metallic accents. This expanded color palette allows for a broader range of designs, making it suitable for a wider array of garments, including bridal wear and special occasion attire.

5.Occasions and Usage

The difference between Chikankari and Lucknowi is also reflected in their suitability for various occasions and types of clothing.

Chikankari: Chikankari, with its delicate and timeless appeal, is often preferred for casual wear, office attire, and semi-formal occasions. Its understated elegance makes it ideal for everyday use, providing a touch of sophistication to the wearer.

Lucknowi: Lucknowi embroidery, with its broader range of motifs and colors, is often chosen for more elaborate and special occasions. Bridal wear, festive attire, and formal events frequently feature Lucknowi embroidery, as it offers a more opulent and ornate look.

6.Artisans and Craftsmanship

Both Chikankari and Lucknowi require exceptional skill and craftsmanship. However, there is a subtle difference in the expertise of artisans who practice these embroidery styles.

Chikankari: Chikankari artisans are highly skilled in the traditional six stitches and techniques associated with Chikankari. They have a deep understanding of the art’s history and are dedicated to preserving its authenticity. Chikankari is often produced by skilled artisans, who have inherited their knowledge and expertise from previous generations.

Lucknowi: Lucknowi embroidery requires artisans with a broader skill set, as it incorporates additional stitches like ‘zardozi’ and ‘aari.’ These artisans may have specialized training to master the extended techniques involved in creating Lucknowi embroidery. While some of them may also be skilled Chikankari artisans, their expertise in more intricate stitches sets them apart.

7.Global Appeal

Chikankari and Lucknowi have both gained global recognition for their exquisite craftsmanship. However, their appeal and recognition may vary.

Chikankari: Chikankari’s timeless elegance and simplicity have made it a favorite among international fashion designers. It is celebrated for its versatility and has found its place on runways worldwide. Its charm lies in its ability to seamlessly blend into both traditional and contemporary fashion.

Lucknowi: Lucknowi embroidery, with its opulent embellishments and broader range of designs, caters to a more niche, yet equally important, market. It is often sought after for special occasions and bridal wear. Its global appeal is primarily within the context of luxury fashion and high-end couture.


In the world of Indian embroidery, Chikankari and Lucknowi hold their unique positions, each offering a distinct blend of tradition and craftsmanship. While Chikankari serves as the foundation, Lucknowi embroidery expands upon it, incorporating more intricate stitches and a wider color palette. The difference between Chikankari and Lucknowi extends beyond their techniques and designs; it also encompasses their history, occasions of use, and global appeal.

Understanding these differences is essential for anyone looking to appreciate and invest in these exquisite forms of Indian embroidery. Whether you’re drawn to the timeless elegance of Chikankari or the opulent beauty of Lucknowi, both styles have their own place in the world of fashion and culture, making India a treasure trove of artistic expression through thread and needle.

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