Here is an excerpt from Revolution 2020

Aarthi wore a mauve chikan salwar-kameez. Her father had bought for her from Lucknow.

What is the meaning of the word chikan? I can't find this word in my dictionary.

  • 2
    You'll be amused to learn that, in Japanese, the word chikan means a man who gropes women on crowded trains or other public places.
    – Pitarou
    Dec 19, 2012 at 8:08
  • +1: And BTW, That's one of the good books which I suggest everyone to read (especially the 18's)
    – user32329
    Dec 20, 2012 at 6:05

3 Answers 3


An interesting etymological and historical account of the term chikan and related embroidery work can be seen on page 4 here:

Embroidering Lives: Women's Work and Skill in the Lucknow Embroidery Industry
By Clare M. Wilkinson-Weber
SUNY Press-Albany 1999

[EDIT-1] More readily accessible resources online:

Chikan (embroidery) (Wikipedia)
Chikan (Hindi: चिकन, Urdu: چکن‎) is a traditional embroidery style from Lucknow, India. Literally translated, the word means embroidery. Believed to have been introduced by Nur Jehan, Mughal emperor Jahangir's wife, it is one of Lucknow's most famous textile decoration styles.

chikan /ˈtʃɪk(ə)n/ [mass noun] (OxfordDictionaries)
(in South Asia) a type of hand embroidery using cutwork and shadow work. Origin: from Urdu, from Persian čikan

Chikan Embroidery (Arch Acad of Des)

  • Please can you include an excerpt from the book? I can't see the text when I follow the link.
    – Hugo
    Dec 19, 2012 at 13:00
  • @Hugo 1. You might need to log into Google to access (parts of) the book online. 2. The entire volume discusses extensively about "chikan". Chapter 1 Chikan in Historical Context: The field setting/ What is chikan?/ Stiches and "work"/Origins and history of chikan.
    – Kris
    Dec 20, 2012 at 5:16

Since the salwar kameez is brought from Lucknow, I would suppose it refers to chikan embroidery. The term may have originated in Persian.

  • The word "salwar", as well. I know from personal experiences of Iranian people, that the Farsi word for trousers is "shalvar". They pronounce it with an SH sound at the beginning, a V sound after the letter l and an AR sound on the end, like the sound of AR in the words "harm" and "arm"; but with a hard R sound, like the pronunciation of R in the German language. "salwar" must be an Indian corruption of "shalvar".
    – Tristan
    Dec 20, 2012 at 17:06

It's a kind of design or embroidery done on women's clothing.

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