” There is a distinct timelessness to Lucknow – things have changed, yet, things have stayed as they are. Lucknawis are great patrons of art “.

– Pandit Birju Maharaj , India – Moods & Memories

Lucknow – widely popular as the city of Nawabs and once, as the capital of the vast and rich dominions of the state of Awadh is an ancient keeper of the Mughal art and culture. As stated by Pandit Birju Maharaj (a leading Kathak exponent from Lucknow) in the book ” India – Moods and Memories ” – Lucknow has seen innumerable changes with years but the heart of the city remains the same with the legacy of its age old traditions thriving to this day, having stood the test of time and modernity.

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The topic of the artistic association of Lucknow with Mughals will be incomplete without speaking of the Chikankari art which appeared in Lucknow in the late 18th century and its exquisite aesthetic and craftsmanship sustained the tradition to this day, through changing patronage and market trends. Chikankari is one of the finest traditional embroideries of India, a symbol of Lucknawi culture and elegant courts of the Nawabs of Awadh. 

Meaning of ” Chikan “

 

” The magic of Chikankari or the white-on-white embroidery of Lucknow reflects the splendor of Indian craft as pure moonlight resplendent in all its beauty.”

– Amrita Walia

The word ‘Chikan’ is probably a derivative from the Persian word ‘Chikin’ or Chikeen which means ” running thread through cloth”. In all probability the word Chikan is used for the white floral embroidery that Queen Noor Jehan brought with her from Persia. The form of embroidery became very popular with the king and his nobles and they began the work of embroidery on muslin and other fine cottons in a myriad of delicate stitches. Cool summery shadow work veils were in vogue for hundreds of years.

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Chikan Embroidery

History of Chikankari

” Lucknow chikan work is the most artistic and most delicate form of what may be called the purely indigenous needlework of India”.

– George Watt

The art of Chikankari in India is about 400 years old. It is believed that this is a Persian craft, which was introduced by Noor Jehan, wife of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. Chikankari flourished under the patronage of the rulers of Awadh.

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Later when the capital of Awadh shifted to Lucknow from Faizabad, in the year 1722, the knowledge of the craft came to Lucknow. Chikankari, although it developed towards the end of the Nawabi era , is often taken to epitomize the best and ultimate refinement of Nawabi and Lucknawi Culture. Interestingly though it is considered an embodiment in the royal city of Lucknow , chikankari has its origin in the royal courts. 

Blocks in Chikankari

A chikan block is a design unit by itself, or it can be used as part of more complex and ever changeable design composition. This system allows endless and instant combinations and permutations. It is a typical feature of the chikan embroidery process and it is a very ingenious and economical method to create innumerable designs with a relatively limited collection of tools.

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  • ARKO – A block used for borders with a design consisting of three small borders – generally the border one is in the middle.
  • KANTHA – The ‘ quarter moon block’ with the shape for the typical neckline on the angarkha or on Bangala kurtas. Its name derives from kanth ( neck).
  • BEL is a straight, single border, more or less wide, generally placed around the front opening of a kurta. 
  • KAT BEL is a border with a scapelled motif on one side.
  • KONI is a block with a painted motif which is placed at the corners of kurta.
  • BUTI is a block of small motifs or small flowers designs.
  • BUTA is a block with a large single motif.

Motifs in Chikankari

Chikankari motifs depict a strong influence of the motifs and screens ( jaalis ) present in the Taj Mahal . At present , the Taj motifs are freely used in Lucknow’s chikan work and most of its glory springs from the Taj pitra dura.

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Chikan then and now

As written by Paoli Manfredi in her book ” Chikankari : A Lucknawi Tradition” –   the finest Chikan embroidery would ornate the garments in subtle ways, ultimate luxury being defined not by quantity but by the flawless workmanship and inconspicuous miniature-style minimalism of the stitches. ” Lightness of touch “ was the essence of the elaborate Lucknawi courtesy, and we could say, of some exquisite chikan embroideries of former times. Chikan used to white on white embroidery executed with minute stitches on translucent fine cotton muslins. Quite the opposite of the aesthetic of today’s chikan which favours lavishness of craftsmanship , whether grossly or very finely executed, in any color and on any kind of fabric : cotton, silk or synthetic textiles, on thin or thick weaves , on plain or printed materials. Today chikan can be bulky with the thick threads and slack and long stitches or very fine, delicate with intricate textures for few elite niche markets – in either case, Lucknawi chikan will always evoke images of insubstantial, evanescent and delicately flowered muslins.

Chikankari – Not just an embroidery 

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Tereza Kulkova, an anthropologist who did extensive research on this subject says that Chikan has a symbolic value of its own ; it is not just a souvenir par excellence from Lucknow , but first and foremost a materialization of the discursive representations of the city. This material thing, this embroidery, gives the city its identity and it also projects its identity onto the weaver of Chikan. Chikan is associated with wealth, style and taste, extravaganza, finesse, delicacy, but even honor, respect and power.

” Chikan is like a dragonfly’s wing, its white-on-white gossamer textures reflect the light and shade of her( the artisan) life – its beauty and its fragile, transient nature.”

– Laila Tyabli , CEO of Dastkar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For the love of all things wonderful, here’s a little something to get your hearts racing. An Eco-tourism resort with all the frills to leave you awestruck.

Cradled with the South Gola Himalayan range, Jilling Terraces is encircled by snowy peaks and cleaved by the silent trails carpeted with the magnificent Himalayan flora and gorgeous waterfalls. Jilling Terraces enables you to hear the sound of silence, spend the night star gazing, partake in an invigorating yoga session, relish a picnic amidst nature and explore village life. It’s a 35 km ride from the Railway Station of Kathgodam to the Matial Village, from where a winding 1.5 km trek takes you to the mountain retreat. During monsoons the hikers can expect to be rewarded with an ethereal carpet of blossoms, and an intoxicating fragrance.

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If you are looking to charm your lady love, then treat her like royalty by indulging her  with the enchanting experience of the nature’s marvel at Jilling Terraces. It beckons you and your significant other to rekindle your vows of togetherness.

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…” 

-John Muir

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You can start your day with an in-room offering of warm cups of ginger tea and delicious cookies while the majestic view of the towering mountains will ignite the blissful experience. The wide open windows shows you how it feels to wake up to the beauty of nature. But even in the midst of the rustic landscape, the rooms are tastefully upholstered with choicest furnishings, refurbished interiors juxtaposed with modern day luxuries.

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As the dusk falls you will be served with a delicious round of snacks over endless cups of tea or coffee that will fill the room with the aroma of sweet spices. This will be followed by a lip smacking feast of Kumaoni delicacies prepared with the fresh and local produce of the region served to you in the generously sized living room with its unique oak and pine wood table.

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One of the most unique experiences designed for love is the private celebration dinner. Here you can indulge in the intimacy of candle light dinner beneath the open sky. The night sky above you. The twinkling stars as your only light.

“ When we are chafed and fretted by small cares, a look at the stars will show us the littleness of our own interests.”

– Maria Mitchell

All of us are so overloaded with work and deadlines that we often forget to look around and appreciate everything for what it really is. We even forget to appreciate ourselves. Stargazing encourages you to ponder over such little things in life and lets you appreciate the wonderful gravity of each passing moment.

Celebrate this Valentine at Jilling Terraces and allow the nature to unfold an unforgettable evening for you. 

 

 

 

A puppet is one of the most remarkable and ingenious inventions of the man. It has been said that a puppet has to be more than his live counterpart for it is definitely the suggestive element that is more captivating and enduring in a puppet.

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Ancient Hindu philosophers have paid the greatest tribute to puppeteers. They have likened God Almighty to a puppeteer and the entire universe to a puppet stage. Srimad Bhagvad Gita, the great epic depicting the story of Lord Krishna in his childhood say that with three strings – SattaRaja and Tama, the God manipulates each object in the universe as a marionette.

 ” Without culture and the relative freedom it implies, society, even when perfect, is but a jungle. This is why an authentic freedom is a gift to the future.”

– Albert Camus

Puppetry throughout the ages has held an important place in traditional entertainment. Like traditional theatre, themes for puppet theatre are mostly based on epics and legends. Puppets from different parts of the country have their own identity. Regional styles of painting and sculptures are reflected in them.

” Culture is the habit of being pleased with the best and knowing why. “

– Henry Van Dyke

Viewing colorful wooden dolls with bountiful eyes and expressions , swaying with the rhythm as they twist and twirl with their delightful Rajasthani outfits on, while the puppeteers work wonders with the strings never fail to leave the viewers awestruck. The tradtional art of puppets has stood the test of time and has been entertaining the Kings and nobles since times immemorial. Rajasthani kings were patrons of Art and Craft and they encouraged the craftsmen in activities ranging from wood and marble carving to weaving pottery and paintings.

Kathputli

Kathputli is a blend of two Rajasthani language words Kath meaning wood and Putli meaning a doll which has no life . Kathputli means a puppet which is made entirely from wood. It is a string puppet theatre , native to Rajasthan , India and is the most popular form of Indian puppetry. Being a string marionette, it is controlled by a single string that passes from the top of the puppet over the puppeteers. It is created with wood and fabric.

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The process of making puppet is very intricate and involves a lot of patience. The process is conducted by both men and women. In Jaipur the puppets made are of small size; with wooden heads, decorated with cloths and stuffed with chaan or cotton.The wooden faces of these puppets are colored as per the characters they play in a specific enactment. Painted in yellow shade with their hands loaded down with clothes, cotton and fabric pieces, they wear delightful Rajasthani outfits.

Heavy embellishment is done on the puppets which are meant for performance. They are decorated with handmade jewelry, instruments etc. to make them appear lively. These puppets are mainly sold as souvenirs and for this reason the female puppets have traditional gorla on their foreheads while the males have beens (Snake Charmers Flute) which depict the culture of Rajasthan.

Rejoiced in voluptuous and regal splendor throughout its history, walking through luxurious colors, earthly rich materials and showcasing a flamboyant flair divulged in culture and manner, India is a land of kings and emperors. It is the nation whose columns of history is crowded with thousands of monarchs, their majesties and graciousness, serenity and royal highness’s, but this influential past bought with itself the great responsibility of keeping these tales alive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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