Archive for January, 2011

Embellishing and ornamenting one own self has been the most attractive and passionate activities practiced for centuries all over the world. With time the same logic and passion got transferred to fabric that was used to cover the body and we were introduced to many new forms of art or handicraft aiming for fabric decoration.


Yes the art of Embroidery it was.

Another way to look at its development long long ago is that when mankind was introduced to cloth; need to tailor, patch, mend and reinforce cloth fostered the development of sewing techniques and the decorative possibilities of sewing led to the art of embroidery.

Using a thread or yarn and a needle, raised surface effects are created on the flat woven fabric surface imparting it a distinctive appearance. Initially basic stitches viz. chain, buttonhole, blanket, running, satin, cross stitch were employed and with time other materials like mirrors, pearls, beads etc. were also incorporated to build unique creations. However, those basic stitches still form the fundamental techniques of hand embroidery in India today.

India boasts a range of traditional embroideries from different states embodying their regional, cultural and social influences. Read further to get more insight on traditional embroideries of India.



Belongs to – Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh


Famous as shadow work, Chikankari embroidery is a very delicate and intricate work from the city of Lucknow. A skill more than 200 years old, the embroidery is famous for its timeless grace and gossamer delicacy. Also known as Chikan, the embroidery is traditionally done using a white untwisted cotton thread on colourless muslin popularly known as tanzeb (the muslim from Dacca).

This form of embroidery came to India from Persia with Noor Jehan, the queen of the Mughal Emperor Jehangir. It is also said that the word chikan is a derivative from the Persian word ‘chikaan‘ meaning drapery. The craft flourished under the benign nawabi influence and later with the British influence designs became more formal resulting in an export market in Europe and England.


Originally, chikan embroidery was done with the untwisted white cotton thread on soft, white cotton fabric like muslin or cambric. It was sometimes done on net to produce a kind of lace. Today chikan work is not only done with coloured threads but on all kinds of fabrics like silk, crepe, georgette, organdie chiffon, and tassar.


In Chikankari, the design to be embroidered is printed on the fabric using wooden blocks dipped in fugitive colours, which are commonly made by mixing a glue and indigo with water. For extra fine designs, brass-blocks are used sometimes.


Motifs printed in indigo blue. Once the embroidery is finished the fabric is washed to wash off the blue.

Application of stitches in chikankari holds great importance and demands particular discipline. The embroidery has a repertoire of about 40 stitches which can be broadly divided into 3 heads flat, raised and embossed stitches and the open trellis-like jaali work.


Techinque of Chikankari embroidery


Chikankari flat stitches with their traditional names are:

1. Bukhia: Most common chikan stitch to get the effect of shadow work. Bukhia is very similar to the herringbone stitch done on backside and front side to give a shadow effect.

It is done in two ways

a)  From back side (ulta bakhia), the floats lie on the reverse of the fabric underneath the motif. The transparent muslin becomes opaque and provides a beautiful effect of light and shade.

b)  From front side (sidha bakhia), it is the satin stitch with criss-crossing of individual threads. The floats of thread lie on the surface of the fabric. This is used to fill the forms and there is no light or shade effect.

2. Taipchi: It is the running stitch worked on the right side of the fabric. It is occasionally done within parallel rows to fill petals and leaves. Sometimes taipchi is used to make the bel buti all over the fabric. This is the simplest chikan stitch and often serves as a basis for further embellishment. It resembles jamdani and is considered the cheapest and the quickest stitch.

Pechni: It is the variation build on Taipchi where the taipchi base is covered by entwining the thread over it in a regular manner thus forming a lever spring.

3.Gitti: A combination of buttonhole and long satin stitch, usually used to make a wheel-like motif with a tiny hole in the center.

4. Jangira: It is the chain stitch usually used as outlines in combination with a line of pechni or thick taipchi.


Chikankari knotted, embossed stitches with their traditional names are:

1. Murri: It is the diagonal satin stitches worked several times with a knot on a basic taipchi stitch to form a grain shape.

2. Phanda: It is a smaller shortened form of murri. The knots made are spherical and very small. It resembles millets, gives a raised effect and is used to fill petals and leaves.

3. Dhum patti: It is the leaf pattern made of cross-stitch.

4. Ghas patti: It is the grass leaves formed by V-shaped line of stitches worked in a graduated series on the right side of the fabric.


Besides there are two other important forms of embellishments:

1. Jali work: The jaalis or trellises that are created in chikankari are a unique speciality of this craft. It gives an effect of open mesh or net created by carefully pushing warps and wefts apart by needle without cutting or drawing of thread. The act thus make neat regular holes or jaalis on the fabric.

2. Khatawa: It is an appliqué work similar to bakhia, which produces a flat effect. It is more of a technique than a stitch.


The source of most of the design motifs in chikankari is Mughal. Noor Jehan’s personal preferences and desire to replicate the Turkish architectural open-work designs is said to have that led to the introduction of jaalis in chikan embroidery. The designs in chikan are graded and used according to the stitches employed – murri ka buta and tepchi ka jaal – though terms like hathi (elephant) and kairi (mango) are also used to signify the shape of the motif. It is however the stitch employed that is the established nomenclature. Other common motifs include mostly paisley, flowers, foliages, creepers, fruits, birds like peacock and parrots.


Typical White on White Chikankari

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Images and information for this article has been sourced.


Textiles from the ancient world has great importance for us as they tell us about the history, styles and forms of textiles that prevailed in ancient times. These clothing pieces also reflect the socio-economic and cultural influences and inform us about various societies, communities and civilizations that emerged and existed.

Throughout the world, preserved ancient textile collection includes a wide range of artifacts viz. tapestries, carpets, quilts, clothing, flags and curtains, as well as objects which ‘’contain’’ textiles, such as upholstered furniture, dolls, and accessories such as fans, parasols, gloves and hats or bonnets. They are largely conserved to be preserved from future damage under teh supervision of professional art conservationists and are stored safely in museums, historic societies/locations, and as private collections.


The Pazyryk Carpet - oldest known knotted carpet, preserved in a Scythe tomb (kurgan) from the 4th -3th century B.C.

Roundel Fragment, 7th Century, Byzantine, Polychrome wool and undyed linen, tapestry weave.                                                                                                                                                   A popular theme of roundels for tunics was the Old Testament story of Joseph. Inspired by silk weavings, the nine events shown here are from Genesis 37:9–36. At the center of this example, Joseph is seen dreaming that the sun, moon, and stars bow down to him. Two horizontally configured faces representing the sun and the moon are placed together with five stars to the left of the sleeping Joseph. The remnants of the imagery represent other episodes from Joseph’s childhood: Joseph’s Departure for Schechem; Joseph’s Arrival to His Brothers; Joseph Removed from the Well; Joseph’s Coat Stained with Blood; Joseph Sold to the Ishmaelite Traders; Reuben’s Lamentation; Joseph Brought to Egypt; and Joseph Sold to Potiphar. These scenes are read counterclockwise, beginning at “11 o’clock.” Source:

The 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards were just wrapped up on Jan 16 and with that for the first time in the brand’s history, ad campaigns comprising mix of medias and a TV commercial was aired during the live telecast of the awards.

Brand ~ Calvin Klein


The 60 second TV commercial debuted during the Golden Globe  featured supermodel Lara Stone alongside the superhot male model Tyson Ballou. It exudes a luxury lifestyle with Calvin Klein Collection products that is modern, timeless, luxurious and sexy.


The brand also aired several versions of the ads multiple times starting from the pre-show red carpet moment and continued throughout the award show.


The Spring 2011 global print advertising campaign for the women’s Calvin Klein Collection was shot by photographers Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott in Los Angeles, California and features Ms. Stone in a very pure, bold, black and white setting.

The men’s Calvin Klein Collection global advertising campaign was shot by renowned photographer Steven Klein in New York City and features model Nils Butler. The highly saturated, graphic black and white imagery emphasizes a play of contrasting light and shadows.

Hohenstein researchers carry out field study into the effect of antibacterial clothing on skin flora and microclimate. Trials show that the natural skin flora is unaffected even after long periods of wear.


In recent years, antimicrobial textiles have become enormously important, whether in the field of technical textiles for preventing infection, medical/therapeutic clothing to help in the treatment of atopic dermatitis or anti-odour treatments for sportswear and clothes for outdoor activities. Most of the antimicrobial garments in the market at present contain silver.

Scientists at the Hohenstein Institute say that even though silver has a very good image and has been used for decades with no problem in other areas such as for treating drinking water, purchasers of antibacterial clothing have been confused by, in some cases, highly controversial debate and reporting in the media.

Hohenstein says that in addition, until now there has been no scientific research into the question of product safety, especially with regard to the possible negative effects on skin flora and the skin’s microclimate. “Particularly where antibacterial chemical fibres are used in clothing worn next to the body, such as underwear, users have so far been very sceptical. Until now, there had been no scientific study of this question of safety,” The institute’s researchers say.  In a research project that has now been completed (AiF No. 15537 N), financed by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) via the Federation of Industrial Research Associations AIF, Hohenstein researchers were able to investigate this subject in a large-scale field study.

A total of 60 healthy volunteers took part in the trial for a period of 6 weeks. Special T-shirts were made for the survey, with an antibacterial treatment on one side (verum), while the other half served as a non-antibacterial placebo. For comparison purposes, researchers studied the effect of both an antibacterial spinning additive (polyester fibres containing silver) and an antibacterial finishing treatment containing silver. Before the survey, the antibacterial activity in the samples was tested in the laboratory using test bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumonia. Then the T-shirts had to be worn by the volunteers every day for at least 8 hours for a period of 4 weeks and various parameters for the skin flora and microclimate were investigated each week. For the entire period of the trial, the health of the volunteers in this placebo-controlled, intra-individual right/left survey was monitored by a dermatologist and the test sites on the skin were dermatologically assessed.


At the beginning of the trial and during and after the series of tests, researchers identified the types of skin bacteria that were typical of each of the volunteers’ natural skin flora and say that at no time did any pathogenic bacteria occur. The individual differences between the volunteers were all within a normal range when compared with data on skin flora in the literature. “No effect by the textile fibres on the skin flora could be detected either in individual volunteers or when the whole group or parts of it were considered. The results of this field study therefore confirm the data in the literature which suggest that healthy human skin flora are very stable. Most notably, there was no significant difference in the total number of bacteria between the functionalised side (verum) and the control side (placebo). Nor was there any variation in the individual range of bacteria specific to each volunteer which could be attributed to the functionalised textile fibres,” the research team says.

In addition to the skin flora, researchers also looked at the skin microclimate. This term describes the thin layer between the surface of the skin and the inside surface of the textile, which develops its own specific moisture level, air flow and temperature, depending on the fibres and construction of the textile, and which is said to affect not only the level of comfort that is experienced but also the living conditions for skin bacteria. Researchers studied three aspects of the microclimate relating to skin physiology: the vapour loss through the skin (trans-epidermal water loss or TEWL, as a direct measure of the barrier effect of the skin), skin moisture levels and the pH value. “No significant effect on vapour loss from the skin could be detected on either the functionalised (verum) side or the control side (placebo). This meant that the antibacterial fibres had no effect on the skin barrier,” the scientists say, adding:

“There was equally little change in the pH value of the volunteers’ skin or in the moisture levels in their skin. None of the trial participants showed any dermatological changes such as increased dryness or inflammation.”

“To summarise, in this field study the skin flora and microclimate of healthy skin remained unaffected by the antibacterial T-shirts that were worn next to the skin: no damage to the skin flora could be detected, i.e. no change to the total number of bacteria on the skin or variation in the range of bacteria. The antibacterial textiles could therefore be classified as safe. Nevertheless, the antibacterial textiles are effective against bacteria entering the fabric in perspiration, as shown in previous studies,” the researchers concluded. The researchers say they will now be able to submit their data for publication in an internationally regarded specialist dermatology journal.

IGF project no. 15537 N, run by the Research Association the Textile Research Council, was sponsored via the AIF as part of the programme to support “Industrial Community Research and Development” (IGF), with funds from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) following an Order by the German Federal Parliament. “We are grateful to the Research Association the Textile Research Council for its financial support for the research project. We must also thank the members of the project support committee who, with their specialist expertise and willingness to contribute to the discussions, helped ensure a successful conclusion to the project,” the Hohenstein Institute says.

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Tanchoi is an elaborate and comprehensive weaving technique practiced in parts of Northern India to create beautiful Tanchoi textiles. Originally, this art instigated in China and was brought to India by three brothers with the last name ‘choi.’ The technique therefore came to be known as ‘Tanchoi’, which literally means ‘three chois’ (tan – three, Choi – brothers). They introduced the art to the Indian weavers in Surat (Gujarat) and later the Varanasi weavers started making less expensive versions. Since then the amalgamation of Chinese technique with Indian style of weaving was created to form the Indianised version of Tanchoi sarees.

The tanchoi weavers initially wove yard age and sarees, which were mostly used by the Parsi community.  But today, Tanchoi has remarkably gained popularity throughout India.


Weaving Technique:

Tanchoi textiles are fabricated in vibrant colours and the weaving technique employs several silk yarns. Like Brocades, Tanchois are also constructed using an extra set of colorful weft silk yarn covering the satin ground thus creating unusually distinctive patterns. Tanchoi weaving is one of the technical and complex weaving techniques as it involves one or two warp and two to five weft colours often in the same shed.

A densely patterned, heavy fabric is thus created without any floats on the reverse. Sometimes, the ‘unused’ threads are woven into the ‘foundation’ at the back. As per the tradition of creating these sarees, the weavers create the face of the fabric with a satin weave ground (warp threads) with small patterns made by the weft threads repeated over the entire surface. Based on this fact, traditionally Tanchoi textiles are Amru brocades that originated in China, but in the 1940s and 1950s, Banaras took over the market and began to incorporate zari.


Designs Incorporated:

In Tanchoi sarees the designs are always floral with interspersing of birds. Figures of flying birds, paired cocks amidst floral sprays are worked all over the body surrounded by flowers and baskets containing flowers. Sometimes the pallu is done more solidly with peacocks, baskets or bunches of flowers or hunting scenes. Tanchoi silk sarees are also ornamented in dazzling floral, geometrical and paisley designs. Most of the times the designs are of Chinese origin but weavers also integrate Indian motifs to create unique pieces of art.


The saree ground is usually bright coloured in blue, purple, green or red with areas patterned in tabby weave. The weavers also use tone-on-tone colors as well as multiple color combinations in jacquard weaving.

Tanchoi sarees from the state of Gujarat, Surat:


Tanchoi from Gujarat creates an extra weft layer to produce the effect of embossing on silk. There are also combinations of brocaded gold butis and borders in a background of self patterned Tanchoi. Some Tanchoi sarees have a rich gold border and two gold bands on the pallu. The more exclusive ones have gold checks with lotus roundels all over which are known as butis.

Figures of birds, trees and flowers are commonly used in these sarees. Sometimes, the pallu is richly decorated with large figures of peacocks, flower baskets and hunting scenes.

Tanchoi from Uttar Pradesh,Varanasi:


Like the banarasi sarees, Tanchoi sarees are also produced by Varanasi weavers but are not constructed as heavy like Banarasi sarees. They are meant to suit and be worn on all types of occasions.

In Varanasi, Tanchoi is produced in zari decorated all over using different motifs and designs and not just Moghul motifs.

Another interpretation of the term here is ‘tan-chhai’, meaning evoking a pattern which covers the field or the body.



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