Every stitch has a story: A detailed read for those with a keen eye for craftsmanship | books$reviews | Hindustan Times
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Every stitch has a story: A detailed read for those with a keen eye for craftsmanship

Chikankari: A Lucknawi Tradition, by Italian author Paola Manfredi, is an intricate look at chikankari embroidery, its roots, and its relevance in contemporary times.

books Updated: Jun 09, 2017 17:05 IST
Snigdha Ahuja
This book is for the curious soul.
This book is for the curious soul.


When you focus on the finer details of daily life, the result is no less than fascinating. Italian author Paola Manfredi does just that, in her thoroughly researched book, Chikankari: A Lucknawi Tradition. Her study brings to life the art of chikankari, an intricate handcrafted embroidery done on diaphanous cloth, typically muslin, organza and similar fabrics. Distinguished by its traditional white-on-white gossamer delicacy, chikankari is deeply rooted in Lucknawi culture.

From the etymology and the lives of the craftsmen to the economical, social and even political context of chikankari, Manfredi deals with it all. One interesting aspect is the significance of each motif, including the keiri, paan, florals and Nawabi insignia, that focused primarily on the symbol of the fish. The process of chikankari is also explained in detail. What adds the romance? Rare photographs of the art, some from as early as the 19th century, that form the backbone of the book.

Also, this collectible is not only educative, but so relevant today, as the Indian fashion industry continues to make a noise about textiles and localised craftsmanship, taking the attention away from powerloom. Just one thing to remember: There’s a lot to take in. So, this one is for the curious soul, not for those who want to unwind with a quick read.

Facts
  • Title: Chikankari: A Lucknawi Tradition
  • Author: Paola Manfredi
  • Publisher: Niyogi Books
  • Price: Rs. 2,495