India is a goldmine of traditional crafts and arts. But, with altering choices and more stress on all things contemporary, many traditional embroideries, textiles and art forms are on the brink of extinction. To give a lease of life to one such rare treasure, designer Umair Zafar, employed 50 artisans from Lucknow and some parts of Northern India to create a collection with the beautiful and delicate Tepchi Chikankari work.
Tepchi is one of the 32 kinds of Chikankari embroidery work, and is an intricate form of Indian embroidery. It is a single-thread handwork, which is suitable for medium-sized floral designs. The thin cotton thread work is done so that it gives the impression of print on fabric. Every stitch is similar to the other and uses a very thin type of thread.
When we asked the designer of his inclination, he elaborated, “Firstly, this embroidery is very difficult and not many people can do it. Secondly, it is costly as a lot of time and effort goes into making it. Thirdly, because of the two reasons above, many designers and brands have stopped doing it and as a result several hundred artisans and craftsmen specialising in Tepchi Chikankari work were rendered jobless.” Zafar believes that by introducing and showcasing this work, it will become popular in the country once again. Besides jobless and starving Tepchi Chikankari artisans will get a source of livelihood.
The designer has introduced a slightly modified version of the original form of embroidery for his collection, which makes it easily reproducible and duplicated on multiple outfits of different sizes and shapes. The collection comprises kurtis in Kota fabric, which is traditional to Lucknow and mainly Northern India.