Chinai Work

Example of Chinai work, India, late 19th century. Example of Chinai work, India, late 19th century.

For many centuries, trade links have existed between China and the west coast of India. It is not surprising, therefore, that a number of Chinese craftsmen, including embroiderers, settled in India, including Surat (north of Mumbai [Bombay]) from at least the nineteenth century onwards.

The embroiderers started to produce what came to be called Chinai ('Chinese') work, with Chinese characteristics with respect to design and execution (often using floss silk), but at the same time suitable for Indian needs. Narrow embroidered bands, for example, were made that could be sewn onto the edges of saris and other garments. The main stitches used for Chinai work are chain stitch, knot stitch, satin stitch, stem stitch and straight stitch, which are generally worked in blue, green, lilac, pink, red and white. The designs used for this type of embroidery often consist of birds (such as flying cranes, cocks and doves) and flowers, which are set in cartouches.


Digital source of illustration (retrieved 9th July 2016).


Last modified on Wednesday, 31 May 2017 13:44
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