Chikankari Like Life
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“Take your needle, my child, and work at your pattern; it will come out a rose by and by. Life is like that; one stitch at a time taken patiently, and the pattern will come out all right, like embroidery.” (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. – American poet, physician and essayist, 1809 –1894) This young woman is making a Chikan embroidery (chikankari चिकनकारी چکن کاری) in her village which is nearby Lucknow. This popular artcraft is believed to have been intoduced by Nur Jehan who was the Mughal emperor Jahangir’s wife. The Nawab Shujaudaula of Avadh was greatly attracted by this craft and it was his keen initiative and interest, which promoted this craft in present day Lucknow. During the sixteenth century the Bengali migrants, influenced by the Portuguese traders, who came from Dacca in eighteenth century to settle in Lucknow brought this art of surface ornamentation and Chikan work came into production by the nineteenth century.