May 31, 2017 by aliya
On Fusion, Friendship and Chikankari
Street Style Delhi: On Fusion, Friendship and Chikankari
It’s a good day in the otherwise sweltering month of May. However, this year, May has been rather forgiving with the rain gods and global warming making their presence feel every other day. Right outside the Summer House Cafe in Aurobindo Market, I see two girls engaged in a conversation, unperturbed by people and everything around. I break this holy matrimony as I see both of them wearing Chikan craft, a craft synonymous with summer.
Saniya and Angarika are Army brats and childhood friends, who have known each other since fourth grade. My rather intrusive behavior doesn’t bug them and they are smiles talking about their style and Delhi among other things.
Their friendship goes years back. Does it have an effect on their individual sense of style? So it seems, with the similar summer respite they find in Chikankari.
“I like to fuse Indian with Western; I never do one without another. There is a certain balance to this equation. I believe my mood also plays quite a role in whatever I choose to wear.”, says Saniya when asked about her style.
Angarika quips the same when asked about her style, to which Saniya adds,” She is also very experimental.”
“Oh yes, I keep doing something or the other with my style- be it with the way I dress or with my curls, like I have now!”
Angarika when asked about how Delhi influences her style, makes quite a fervent observation, “Delhi tells me to wear heels. It makes me feel underdressed if I am not wearing heels. I don’t know if it is a South Delhi thing.”
It was Chikankari or the craft of Chikan which made me go up to these girls. Their Kurtas, green and white, very well represent this fine craft. There are a lot of stories around how this craft originated, some say that it was present as early as the 3rd Century AD during the reign of Changragupta Maurya. The other folktale revolves around Mughals introducing the Persian Craft to India. It is said that it was Noor Jahan, the consort of Jahangir, who was also a gifted embroiderer, who brought this craft to India.
Jahangir was likewise fascinated by this artistry and showered it with his royal support. He set up a few workshops to hone and perfect this art form. In this period, the fabrics utilized were generally Muslin or Mulmul as they were most appropriate for the warm and humid climate.
After the downfall of the Empire, Chikankari craftsmen spread all over India and established different communities for re-foundation in the eighteenth and nineteenth Century. Lucknow was the fundamental one with Awadh as a nearby second. The then Governor of Awadh, Burhan Ul Malk, was a Persian aristocrat and Chikan work recipient who had a noteworthy part in reestablishing this specialty to its previous magnificence, which in many ways, remains till date.
This short style conversation with Angarika and Sania served as a means to research about Chikankari, a craft that is taken a little more granted than other handicrafts in the country, for the simple reason that it is accessible and everyone owns it. Much like Love?
On Saniya- Green Kurta: Lucknow, Pants: Lifestyle, Earrings: Navaratna by Meena Jain
On Angarika- White Kurti- Lucknow, Pants- Shoppers’ Stop, Bag-Caprese, Shoes: Ginger, Earrings-Paharganj