Marie-Renée Otis, artist in residence in Paris,
Fellow of the Council of Arts and Letters of Quebec

The Fifteenth Week

The Shikankari Embroidery Technique, from India


In India, in the region of Uttar Pradesh (Central North of the country), there is the traditional technique of Shikankary: Shikan means delicate; Kari means work.

For this lesson, Shika makes us work on cotton organdy fabric (in comparison, organza is made of silk).

The Shikankari technique plays with shadows and exploits the transparency of the fabric. Certain stitches are worked on the right side of the piece and other stitches are done instead on the back side.


Paisley motif, Shikankari embroidery

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Shikankari technique was employed to ornate the clothing and the linen of the nobility.

To perform Shikankary, mainly five type of stitches are executed
- Herringbone stitch
- A variation of Knot stitch
- Blanket stitch
- A variation of the Bullion stitch
- And Stem stitch


A delicate veil embroidered in Shikankari embroidery

According to the desired effect, one, two or three threads can be used. At its source, the Shikankary was done essentially as Whitework. For this class’ exercise, at Zardosi School, the students rather embroider in color. To recreate the traditional effect the fabric and the threads are the same color, a modern interpretation of Shikankari in Paris.


My exercise in color at Zardosi School

The photo research and the translation are made by Lucie Daigneault

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The Embroiderers' Association of Canada (EAC) is a national non-profit educational organization whose purpose is to have a fellowship of persons who enjoy needlework and wish to learn and share their knowledge; and thereby to work towards maintaining higher standards of design, colour and workmanship.

Our aim is to preserve traditional techniques and promote new challenges in the Art of Embroidery through education and networking.
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