How to Differentiate Between Real and Fake Lucknowi chikankari ?

You know that gorgeous chikankari kurta that you recently bought on? The one with the intricate white-on-white embroidery? How can you be sure it's the real deal - genuine Lucknowi chikan done by hand? Not some machine-made imitation? Authentic handwork is priceless. Machine embroidery is just...terrible.

The Chikankari Tradition

Chikankari is the classic embroidery from Lucknow, the city of nawabs. It's been done for centuries, with styles passed down through generations of skilled artisans. But nowadays, a lot of fake chikankari is being passed off as handmade. Sneaky machine embroidery that looks pretty at first glance.

Examining the Stitches 

Pay close attention to the stitches themselves. Real chikankari stitches have a beautiful irregularity to them. They're not perfectly uniform like machine work. Each stitch varies ever-so-slightly in length, tension, angle - giving the overall pattern a lively, organic look.

Handmade stitches cluster denser in some areas, sparser in others. A skilled artisan's hand is never robot-precise.


In contrast, machine-made pseudo-chikankari has stitches that look too perfect. Stitch for stitch, they're basically identical clones. Spaced evenly and neatly in a grid pattern. Soulless and machine-stamped rather than freely rendered.

Pay attention to the stitch holes on the back too. On real handwork, they look delightfully scattered and random, with threads poking through haphazardly. Machine versions have suspiciously straight lines of neat holes marching across.

The Fabric Base

Then there's the fabric base itself. Authentic chikankari uses lightweight, delicate fabrics like gossamer muslin or silk. These let the needlework really shine with breathing room. Machine embroidery tends to use heavier, coarser fabrics that look and feel stiff.

Run your hands over the piece and feel the difference. Genuine handwork has amazing texture you can't replicate on a machine. The embroidered parts are dimensional, with a raised, sculpted feel as each stitch stands proud. It's not flat and smooth like machine work.

Design and Color Nuances 

In fact, look at the overall design. Real chikankari has beautiful irregularities and asymmetries that come from the human hand. Intentional variations make each motif unique, not an exact carbon copy. Machines just stamp the same pattern over and over, boringly perfect.


Even inspect colors closely. All-white may seem simpler, but dyeing thread is an artisan skill. Multiple hues blend shaded nuances only a human eye could render. Machine thread colors tend to be flat and synthetic.

Authenticated Makers

Most importantly, look into WHO made your piece and HOW. Was it embroidered by trained artisans from Lucknow? Or was it churned out assembly-line style? Products without verified artisan inputs should raise a big red flag.  

At the end of the day, nothing beats the painstaking rhythm and delicate artistry that goes into each stitch of an authentic Lucknow chikan piece made by a real karigar. No machine can ever replicate that human touch and skill.

These master artisans have spent years, decades even, perfecting their craft and carrying forward a rich cultural legacy. The least we can do is appreciate their work and not settle for any fake replicas that are all about cutting corners and making a quick buck. Real karigari needs to be valued and supported, no? 

So next time you're shopping for chikankari, keep your eyes peeled for the real deal. Check those stitches, check that fabric quality, heck even get up close and personal with the back side if you have to! Your desi wardrobe deserves nothing but the finest.