'The story of Chikan Kari' goes back to the time of 'Noor Jahan' when Chikan Kari was first introduced. Noor Jahan can be called the founder of this art, She used to call artisans to copy the designs from the marble carvings and embroidery it on cloth. This marked the evolution of Chikan handicrafts.
This art was carried down the generations and in Awadh Angarkhas, Kurta-Pyjamas were richly embroidered by poor artisans and presented to their Nawab's in order to get favours out of them.
This art suffered a lot during the time of British rule in India when heavy taxes were levied on Indian handicrafts due to which the Indian art declined.
But in 1897 with the establishment of the proprietary firm by our fore fathers, great momentum was given to the declining art although we started with just the manufacture of caps but later diversified into production of Angarkhas, Kurtas, Pyjamas etc. to meet the customer's needs and preferences.
Later in the 20th century the name & fame of this firm popularly known as "ROHIA" Chhangamal Ramsaran Garg Agencies was carried by Mr. Chandra Prakash Garg who gave new heights to Chikan work. His son Mr. Prabhat Garg has now started adding on new designs, patterns etc. to meet the present fashion needs of the people and also to keep Chikan work popular among people by taking into account new designs, pattern and the growing fashion needs. This art gives the poor artisans an opportunity to generate additional family income other than their usual jobs.
Chikankari was traditionally done on cotton. But over a period of time Chikan work began to be crafted on Chiffon, Georgette, Cotton, Rubia and many other fabrics resulting as great demand among all age groups.
Chikankari is considered a Nobel handicraft which requires time & perfection. It is a lengthy process carried by skilled artisans, peace by piece. Each finished product goes through a complete flow of process before it is finally made for display. The production of Chikan handicraft involves the following steps:
Raw material : The raw material consisting of a variety of fabrics such as Cotton, Terry-cot, Terry-rubia, Silk & Terry-wool, are purchased in bulk from the manufacturers according to the requirements and are stored in go-downs.
Cutting : The fabric are then subjected to bulk cutting according to the instructions provided into different shapes and sizes according to the requirement, by experienced and skilled cutters.
Stitching : The fabric are then stitched as per different sizes and shapes and kept ready for the next stage viz. Block Printing.
Block Printing : Various designs before being embroidered are first printed on the cloth by the help of wooden blocks which have the design en-carved the block is then pressed against a pad which has a mixture of indigo and glue which when pressed against the cloth gives a blue impression.
Embroidery : This is the most intricate part of the entire production and also the component which provides employment to a large number of women especially to those who belong to lower economic strata of the society. This is like an additional family income for the artisans. This work is usually carried out by the family members of poor persons who make medium quality embroidery work. This is given by our firm to the contractor who distributes the work in villages among women. Besides this the firm owns its own centers where a number of women work from 9 am to 5 pm and make high quality embroidered Chikan crafts or expensive Sarees, Kurtas etc.
Network : The next stage is the carrying out of 'Jali' or 'Network' in various products to beautify the work and give it an appreciable look. It constituents one among the original 32 designs started at the time of Noor Jahan.
Washing : The embroidered products are then washed for cleaning off the dirt and the indigo stains which would have made its appearance dirty. The washed and dried items are then ironed.
Checking : The neatly washed and ironed fabric are finally subjected to checking by the firms officials for detecting defects, if any, and also subjected to the of loose thread cutting to give the item a neat appearance. This stage is then followed by price stamping and packing. The items are made ready to be displayed in the show room shelves.