India is a country known for its many art forms and rich culture. Indian festivals, food, attire, languages are so diverse and add an invaluable component that gives India its identity. Indian attire receives a special mention as it is one of the most unique and most beloved aspects of Indian culture. The country is home to a range of textiles, yarns, embroideries, and fabrics that showcase its intricacy and attention to detail. One such art form is the meticulous art of Chikankari.
It is said that a traveler, who was passing through a village in Lucknow, stopped and requested a poor peasant for water. Delighted at the hospitality of the peasant, the traveler taught him the art of Chikankari, which would ensure that he could build a business and support himself. Lucknow city is widely regarded as the birthplace of Chikankari work. Another explanation credits Noorjahan, the queen of Emperor Jahangir, with the introduction of the Chikankari embroidery work in India.
Needle and Thread
No matter what the origin of this beautiful art form, chikankari work is one of the most popular and most loved embroideries in India and has spawned a host of local businesses that are keeping this ancient art form alive, one outfit at a time. One such business is Tanzeb Chikankari Studios started by Nidhi Bala in the year 2016.
“The word Tanzeb means pure white cotton fabric with pure white cotton thread work. It is the original form of Chikankari which would be done using a white thread, as 200 years ago we did not have as many pigments as we have today. It denotes the purest form of beauty and craftsmanship. Through my work I always aim to go back to my roots and stay as close to the original form as possible,” shares Nidhi.
Hailing from the royal city of Lucknow, Nidhi was well versed with the numerous karigars that offered this embroidery. But it was when she got married and moved to Bangalore she realized that lots of cities imitate this art form and sell it at premium prices across the country.
“I was so upset seeing this rich, ancient art form being butchered in this manner and decided that I would do whatever I could to help the local artisans of Lucknow. I decided to start my venture which would not just provide beautiful garments to customers but also allow the karigars an opportunity to showcase their talent and compensate them accordingly. I started Tanzeb Chikankari Studios at the age of 36 with 14 thousand rupees,” shares the founder.
Rooted In Tradition
The founder spent a year and a half researching in villages that were located on the outskirts of Lucknow, where she met hundreds of women artisans who had been practicing this craft without any recognition. Today, with Tanzeb, Nidhi has created a team of 40 who believe in creating quality products, celebrating the history and beauty of Chikankari work.
The brand makes excellent use of traditional hand stitches which have lost their way in these modern times. A mix of these conventional stitches, as well as newer and modern stitches, has resulted in a beautiful amalgamation of handmade garments that will appeal to clients of any age. “Originally Chikankari had 32 stitches. This was passed down through generations and was a valuable skill favoured by grandmothers and mothers. Now we have developed additional stitches and we utilize this combination to create unique patterns for Tanzeb,” says Nidhi.
Tanzeb Going Global
In the past few years, Nidhi has fulfilled more than six thousand orders and also dressed celebrity clients such as Shabana Azmi, Arundathi Nag and the famous Bharatnatyam dancer Satyanarayan Raju in her beautiful garments. She uses the world of social media to showcase her offerings and accepts orders through her Instagram page as well.
“We have had a good response from our clients and love to innovate with our products. In the next 5 years, I wish to have a presence at all airports of the world so that we can display our work at a global level. I do believe that this will further educate and enlighten tourists about the rich and vibrant culture that India has to offer,” concludes Nidhi.
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/tanzeb_chikankari/
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