Embroidering Lives: Women's Work and Skill in the Lucknow Embroidery Industry

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SUNY Press, 1999 M01 1 - 239 pages
Fusing aesthetic and economic analyses, Embroidering Lives investigates the lives and work of women in the chikan embroidery industry of Lucknow, India. Richly descriptive and accessibly written, the book explores many important issues in women's studies, anthropology, and urban development today--the impact of purdah (seclusion of women) upon women's work and occupational opportunities, the key role of sub-contractors in home-based industry, the need to understand a handicraft from its makers' point of view, and the role of development agencies and programs.

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Contents

Chikan in Historical Context
xxvi
WHAT IS CHIKAN?
xxvi
STITCHES AND WORK
xxvi
ORIGINS AND HISTORY OF CHIKAN
xxvi
The Division of Labor
25
KNOWLEDGE AND THE DIVISION OF LABOR
27
PRODUCTIVE SPECIALTIES
28
MACHINE WORK
53
KNOWLEDGE OF CHIKAN
126
LEARNING CHIKAN
130
SHAUQ AND PARESHANI
132
PROCESSES OF LEARNING
136
PLANNING AND EXECUTION
149
CONCESSIONS IN SKILL
154
Development Schemes and State Patronage
157
GOVERNMENT PROMOTION AND PATRONAGE
161

CONCLUSION
57
Embroiderers in Social Perspective
59
PROBLEMS WITH STATISTICS
61
EMBROIDERY AND POVERTY
64
LEISURE
67
RELIGION
68
CASTE
72
PURDAH
74
EMBROIDERY AND THE LIFE CYCLE
81
Work and Wages
87
WORK HABITS
96
AGENTS AND EMBROIDERERS
101
SUMMARY
118
IS CHIKAN EMBROIDERY FREETIME WORK?
119
Skill and Knowledge in Fine Chikan Embroidery
123
AWARD SCHEMES
173
TRAINING SCHEMES
179
EXHIBITIONS
181
GOVERNMENT JOBS FOR SKILLED EMBROIDERERS
182
SEWA LUCKNOW
183
EMBROIDERERS SKILLED EMBROIDERERS THE GOVERNMENT AND SEWA LUCKNOW
192
CONCLUSION
193
CONCLUSION
197
APPENDIX
205
NOTES
211
GLOSSARY
217
BIBLIOGRAPHY
221
INDEX
231
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Page xxvi - A little later, a very attractive embroidered cap of the same type was created for the winter. The five panels were covered in thin muslin upon which gold and silver crescents and designs were stitched in different colours. In winter one saw no other covering on the heads of men of fashion. Later, when chikan [embroidery on muslin] became popular, it was used for this purpose.
Page xxv - Oudh attracted to their capital many of the famous craftsmen of India, hence Lucknow, to this day, has a larger range of artistic workers than are to be found in almost any other town of India. Lucknow chikan work is perhaps the most remarkable of these crafts as it is the most artistic and most delicate form of what may be called the purely indigenous needlework of India.

About the author (1999)

Clare M. Wilkinson-Weber is Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at Washington State University.

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