Five hand stitched embroidery styles from India

Heritage textile handicrafts


News - India & You

August 2, 2017

/ By / Kolkata

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We look at five Indian hand stitched embroidery styles that showcase the diversity of handicrafts from the country.

Across India, several stitching and embroidery techniques have persisted over time. Passed on from generation to generation, prepared in handlooms and now being replicated by machines and used for various purposed. Most handicrafts, emerged from rural and folk traditions are also incorporated into urban areas with fabrics designed in different ways to suit the tastes of a number of people. Here are five such stitching techniques that have existed since decades or earlier in India and are still popular for the unique style they have to offer.


Chikan embroidery, mostly associated with the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh in India is an intricate hand stitched embroidery styled that is used on sheer, nylon and cotton clothes. There are flat, embossed and another kind of category of stiches known as ‘jali’ work, traditionally made with softer colours and now found in both vibrant and pastel shades. Chikan embroidery has now become popular in kurtis, a kind of tunic, and remains a classic embroidery style for other Indian clothes such as saris and lehengas.

Chikan embroidery is also sometimes called Lucknowi Chikan

Chikan embroidery is also sometimes called Lucknowi Chikan


Made in bright colours, Kantha comes from the eastern region of India, particularly the states of Odisha and West Bengal and has roots in folk art. Used on silks for a grand feel and other materials for daily usage, this form of embroidery makes for quirky and interesting textiles for dressing, accessories and home furnishings. Several kantha saris, passed from grandmothers to their granddaughters contain scenes from epics, depictions of daily lives in the rural side as well as fun, playful fish and trees.


A rural traditional embroidery style that is also popular in the urban areas, Phulkari embroidery from Punjab loosely translates to flower work. It consists of vibrant thread work that is carried on thick fabrics such as types of cotton. Like other embroidery styles mentioned above, Phulkari has various types of work, among which Meenakari and Panchranga are some popular ones. Shawls, kurtis and stoles with such artwork are quite popular in northern parts of India.


The popular and renowned embroidery style Kutch comes from the Kutch region in western Indian state of Gujarat. It has evolved over the years to include many types yet is the noticeable extensive work. Big, expressive motifs such as sunflowers, peacocks and people are done in this kind of embroidery. This folk style can now be found in a range of items, from clothes to accessories and home furnishings.


Kashidakari from Kashmir region in the northern Indian state of Kashmir is an exquisite and elegant form of embroidery. A distinctive style that can be found in the famous Kashmiri shawls, bed covers, dress materials as well as purses, Kashidakari is one style marked by single lines. The motifs range from floral to birds though humans are largely missing in the style.

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