In the narrow lanes of Chowk, from the verandah of an old house comes the sound of glass burnishing metal. This is one of the few surviving houses where the subtle Mukaish work still happens in the world. Mukaish or Mukeish is a type of embroidery done with metal on materials like Chiffon or Georgette where thin strips of metal are weaved through the fabric and twisted off to create patterns and designs. Originating in Lucknow, Mukaish (or Badla as it is locally called) work was originally meant for royalty with embroidery being done with gold and silver thread, making it a very expensive affair.
Labour intensive and expensive, this dying craft is all about the detail. The two types of designs are called : Fardi ka Kaam and Kaamdani, and for both, the process starts with the cloth being printed with the pattern. The next step is to carefully make the metal embroidery threads thin and pliable, after which they are put through the fire so they become the desired colour. At this point they are woven into the cloth. The last step is where the embroidered cloth is spread out and the metal is burnished with a glass bottle or a cowrie shell. The result is a shimmery outfit with a radiant glow, classy and elegant!