The gorgeous and always popular silk sari from Kanchipuram is usually at the top of just about anyone’s shopping list, when they’re in Tamil Nadu. With designs inspired by nature, myth and religion woven into the silk, which is embellished with gold thread and a contrasting border, they’re both sensous
Chikankari Work, Lucknow
An ancient art form patronized by Empress Noor Jahan, chikankari was once the ultimate fashion statement of Nawabs. Today, style icons all over the world don kurtas, dresses and saris with the delicate chikan embroidery. Lucknow’s Chowk area has lines of shops selling the most intricate of designs.
Chikan began as a type of white-on-white (or whitework) embroidery. The technique of creation of a chikan work is known as chikankari. Chikan is a delicate and artfully done hand embroidery on a variety of textile fabric like muslin, silk, chiffon, organza, net, etc. White thread is embroidered on cool, pastel shades of light muslin and cotton garments. Nowadays chikan embroidery is also done with coloured and silk threads in colours to meet the fashion trends and keep chikankari up-to-date.
So exquisite are the famous Benarasi saris that they are the first choice for many a bride’s trousseau. A Benaras silk sari or shawl is traditionally a rich, single coloured textile with patterns woven in gold or silver threads. The Kimkhab and Tanchoi brocades are the finest, most opulent you’ll find in Varanasi.
Weaving is typically done within the household, and most weavers in Varanasi are Momin Ansari Muslims. Many of Varanasi's Muslims belong to a weaver community that known by the name of Ansari, which means "helper" in Arabic. For generations they have passed on their craft from father to son, hand-weaving silk on room-sized foot-powered looms.
The main shopping areas in Varanasi for these fabrics and saris are Chowk, Vishwanath Gali, Lahurabir, Godoulia, Dashswamedh Gali and Golghar.
Kantha is a traditional form of embroidery often practised by rural
women was done with soft dhotis and saris, with a simple running stitch
along the edges. Depending on the use of the finished product they were
known as Lepkantha or Sujni Kantha.
The embroidered cloth has many uses including women's shawls and covers for mirrors, boxes, and pillows. In the best examples, the entire cloth is covered with running stitches, employing beautiful motifs of flowers, animals birds and geometrical shapes, as well as themes from everyday activities. The stitching on the cloth gives it a slight wrinkled, wavy effect. Contemporary Kantha is applied to a wider range of garments such as sarees, dupatta, shirts for men and women, bedding and other furnishing fabrics, mostly using cotton and silk. Modern Katha-stitch craft industry involves a very complex multi-staged production model.