Chikankari is a form of hand embroidery patronised by the Mughals in the Awadh region of India which has since then become region specific art form and the karigars are found specific to the Uttar Pradesh mostly in and around Lucknow.
This hand embroidery form is also very technical in terms of calculating the end price for the consumer of a garment. One saree can cost X amount and on the other hand a similar saree can cost way higher whereas to many the look would remain same. In Chikankari sometimes the pricing might not justify to customer if one starts comparing every garment without understanding the technical backend of manufacturing.
One can take help from the below information as a guidance to pricing while buying a Chikankari garment.
- EMBROIDERY TAAR COUNT: The price of the garment firstly depends on the number of threads used while hand embroidering a Chikankari garment. Usually, a karigar would triple the thread to make a whole string to embroider with. Lower the thread count, the higher the price of embroidery would go. EK TAAR- An ‘Ek Taar’ (single thread) saree is the epitome of finesse that can be achieved in Chikankari as it would display every stitch with extreme finesse and takes the most amount of time to complete. A jaal saree in ek taar can take about 1-2 years of working upon depending on the density of embroidery. The karigars who can make ek taar craftsmanship are also highly paid for their skill. The saree also will be light in weight as compared to do taar and teen taar and makes for a highly valued heirloom piece for one’s collection. There is also more risk of the manufacturer in putting these long-term sarees in making because of later stage stains, cuts and other rejections that might appear after the hard work in embroidery is given in, hence the overall production loss must be accounted for too. DO TAAR – The ‘Do Taar’ embroidery is done with combining two thread counts. This is also considered quite premium and takes more time to make and is finer than teen and char taar. TEEN TAAR – The regular wear and premium pret is often done with teen taar that means by combining three thread counts for embroidery.
- DENSITY OF EMBROIDERY: The amount of work and the time taken to finish it will be directly proportional to the cost. The more the embroidery in a garment the more the price.
- FINESSE OF HAND EMBROIDERY: The finer the craftsmanship the higher the price as it would take way more time to complete a piece of fine work then a piece done quicky with fatter, uneven stitches with low design consistency.
- NATURE OF EMBROIDERY THREAD: The cost of the garment will also depend on the nature of thread used. There are three kinds of threads used namely resham which is silk, cotton and polyester. The garments embroidered with resham thread will be of higher cost since the thread is finer to work with, expensive, takes more time to complete the same amount of work and can be managed by only skilled karigars. The cost of cotton thread used will also depend on whether it is anchor or dolly rangoli which are yarn dyed and of premium finish than the ones which come in huge bundles which are over dyed. The polyester blend thread will be cheaper than other threads though the finish will be good.
- NUMBER OF COLOURS IN EMBROIDERY: The price of the garment will also be different in one piece having the same embroidery thread colour to one having multi- colour threads as the greater number of thread colours increase the complexity of craftsmanship.
- COMPLEXITY OF STITCHES: Looking out more certain stitches in the embroidery like Murri, Bijli, Kauri, Kante, Holes, Jaali can tell you a lot about price of the garment. These are some of the difficult stitches to craft and takes more time to fill in the same amount of fabric. These stitches will only be found in premium wear. The most common stitches which go regularly with mass market production is Bakhiya (shadow work), Phanda, Pechni and Patti.
- ADD ON EMBELLISHMENTS: There are many other embroidery forms which are used to highlight a Chikankari garment like Mukaish, Cutwork, Applique work, Zardozi, Sequence work, Pearl work and others. The presence of these add on embroideries will also contribute towards an addition to the garment price.
- BASE FABRIC: The base fabric used will also add to the garment price. Garments made of pure fabric will be higher in price than of that made of polyester blends. It will also depend on which fabric is used as cotton, chiffon, georgette, organza, silk, kota and so on are all different ranges.
A permutation and combination of these factors will finally determine the price of the garment. One can also say that all these factors directly change the time taken to complete one garment which finally decides the price of it.