The Craft of Mukaish Work

Lucknow is a renowned city in India primarily remembered for its fine taste in architecture, speech, cuisines, and perfumes. The city is known for its cordial hospitality, refined art craft, and richness of culture. However, the city is not just home to architecture and dialect. It hosts many hidden crafts and Mukaish Work is one of them.

The craft initially started as an embroidery technique to enhance royal evening wear centuries back. However, it evolved into a finely crafted work of dotted patterns in silver or gold, enhancing the beauty of lightweight fabrics. Today, slight alterations to the original work can be seen during fashion weeks as well as in ethnic dresses.

The origin and the history

The origin of Mukaish Work can be traced as far back as the 3rd century BC somewhere around Awadh near the present city of Lucknow. The craft initially started as a means to adorn Chikankari outfits so that the Nawabs and Mughals can make their ensembles more unique and dashing. The original work used only to add small dots of metal to Chikankari dresses for rendering them more elegant and sophisticated. However, with time, the designers began producing all kinds of present-day Mukaish Work fabrics due to the intricacy and beauty of the art.

Mukaish work on Chikankari

Mukaish and Chikankari are two different art forms that originated in Awadh. However, Chikankari is completely different from Mukaish art and is a form of thread embroidery carried out on muslin, chiffon, and georgette, etc. Whereas in Mukaish, you take small strands of metal and shape them into patterns of dots. It can be done in Chikankari outfits as well as other simpler fabrics. The base fabric can be anything from light chiffon and georgette to heavy and bulkier raw silk fabrics.

Artisans who carry out the work

Artisans who excel in Mukaish hail from Awadh and Lucknow. It is basically the men who do most of the work of embroidery. Main patterns, motifs, and leaves are designed by the men of the community. Women, however, do the work of forming dots between and around the main pattern.

Motifs and designs in Mukaish

One of the main motifs in Mukaish is dots. However, motifs can range from floral to geometric. When done well, they can change the appearance and properties of the base fabric altogether. Since the work is carried out using metal, the use of small splatters of metal can create great highlights in the overall design of the fabric.

Style and variety

There are two major patterns in which the work of Mukaish is presented:

  • Fardi Ka Kam
  • Kamdani

The former refers to the creation of dots in some design or pattern. It is the basic and popular design Mukaish fabrics are famous for. The width of the wire determines the fineness of the dots. Finer dots refer to the expensiveness of the fabric.
While in Kamdani, a wire attached to a thread is pulled through the fabric with a needle. This is the fanciest kind of fabric achieved through Mukaish Work.

The Craft of Mukaish Work, Designer Fashion Fabrics - AALA.com