Chikan is a traditional embroidery style from Lucknow, India. Literally translated, the word means embroidery. Believed to have been introduced by Nur Jehan, Mughal emperor Jahangir's wife, it is one of Lucknow's most famous textile decoration styles.
There are several theories about the origin of Chikankari. Chikankari (process of chikan) was basically invented in Lucknow (India). It developed quickly during the period when Mughals ruled and consisted of style inspired by Persians. Lucknow in India grew into an international market for its renowned Chikankari work. There are references to Indian Chikan work as early as 3rd century BC. by Megasthenes who mentioned the use of flowered muslins by Indians. There is also a tale that mentions how a traveler taught Chikankari to a peasant in return of water to drink. However, the Noorjahan story is the most popular of the lot. The name Chikan has been derived from the Persian word Chakin or Chikeen meaning a cloth wrought with needlework
Chikan began as a type of white-on-white (or whitework) embroidery.
Creation of a chikan work piece begins with the use of one or more pattern blocks that are used to block-print a pattern on the ground fabric. The embroiderer then stitches the pattern, and the finished piece is carefully washed to remove all traces of the printed pattern.
The patterns and effects created depend on the types of stitches and the thicknesses of the threads used in the embroidery. Some of the varieties of stitches used include backstitch, chain stitch and hemstitch. The result is an open work pattern, jali (lace) or shadow-work. Often the embroiderer creates mesh-like sections in the design by using a needle to separate threads in the ground fabric, and then working around the spaces.? It consists of 36 different Stitches in which the major stitches are called in Lucknowi language as "Bakhiya" "Fanda" "Murri" "Bijli" "Pechni" "Ghans patti" "Ulti Jali".