WE ARE IBU IN ACTION:
The Ibu Foundation partnered with Bhairvi’s Chikan to preserve a very rare and artistic hand seam embroidery, called Daraz embroidery, from the Chikankari tradition. Our funding of this project included training and supplies for 15 students learn this culturally endangered technique.
Bhairvi’s Chikan in Lucknow was created about 30 years ago by Ms. Mamta Varma, a welfare and social entrepreneur. Her approach to Chikankari from Lucknow has focused on supporting and promoting the excellency of this tradition. Chikankari is an intricate and delicate hand embroidery, made with white cotton thread on white fine muslin. It has a repertoire of predominantly floral designs and thirty six different stitches that are used in different combinations to create harmonious textures. Bharvi’s Chikan works with over 300 female artists/artisans with varying levels of skill, the artisans live mainly in the rural outskirts of Lucknow and have set up small workshops called chikan centres to create a conducive working environment.
Chikankari from Lucknow was not just an embroidery style or an added ornamentation, but a complex syntax of dressmaking, superbly mastered by specialized craftsmen and daraz was undoubtedly among the most amazing artistic seaming in chikankari tradition. Daraz is an exquisite and exclusive way in which the pieces of the pattern are assembled together with joining reversible seams worked following a chosen motif so as to create in the transparency of the muslin a decorative effect that perfectly blends in with the embroidery. Moreover daraz is often enhanced with hatkati and hul stitches, which further contribute to beautifully disguising the joins.
To avoid the disappearance of such an unique and exquisite craft tradition, with its specialized knowledge, the Ibu Foundation provided a $10,000 grant in 2021 for 15 students to begin training sessions with expert teachers to revive the intricate Daraz technique. Beside the ethical aspect of the urgency of preserving traditional skills and cultural heritage, the training of artisans in this exquisite technique were a resource for the artisans themselves, widening their professional qualifications and opening up new job opportunities for a highly qualified craftsmanship.
The market demand for this skilled and unusual workmanship is unparalleled. As there is a severe lack of artisans excelling in daraz that it has almost disappeared, this project was fundamental in the preservation of this specific cultural sewing technique.