*This August blog post was updated on August 18th, 2019.
A girl’s wedding is probably the highlight of her life. Now, before all the feminists come to me with their chapals raised, I want to explain what I mean. All your life, you celebrate your birthdays, your graduations, and your anniversaries. However, a wedding is the only time when all eyes are on you and you can become a bridezilla and people will just have to listen to you. Tell me a time other than your wedding when you can condone spending $4000 on one dress. Nope only your wedding time. Anyways, today I want to focus on one of the beloved piece of bridal fashion in the sub-continent (India; Pakistan)- the chattapatti work.
Chattapatti is as traditional as kiran or zardozi work and just as popular. I first learned about it when my sister had a chattapatti gharara (wide-leg trousers) stitched by my dadi (paternal grandmother). My dadi had saved pieces of light, pastel satin fabric and wanted to do something for my sister’s trousseau. Hence, my love affair with chattapatti began. The end product was this gorgeous amalgamation and explosion of color complimented by gota and kiran (fringe) work. I forgot about it because hey, life gets in the way, but ran into the style again at a relative’s wedding. This time the chattapatti was in hexagon designs rather than diamonds. I fell in love again.
So let me tell all the youngins’ or non-desi people what chattapatti is. Chattapatti embroidery is made up pieces of four or more colors of cloths stitched either diagonally or vertically embroidered with kamdani and sequins. Different colors of cloth cut in small pieces basically have to be cut in similar geometric shapes and stitched and embroidered together. One can use any type of silk or satin for this work. Another variation of chattapatti embroidery is known as chaktian pattian, which comprises of complimentary colors and vibrant pieces of cloth stitched together in the shape of a diamond. This form of embroidery flourished in Lucknow, India during the reign of the Nawabs of Awadh. In bridal dresses, these two forms of embroidery may be used on sleeves and are also stitched on the bottom part of lehengas (long skirts), ghararas (wide-leg trousers) and dhaka pajamas (another variation of wide-leg trousers). I have even see it at the hem of shirts or borders of dupattas. This is definitely a beautiful and traditional form of embroidery best suited for classic brides. However, you don’t have to hunt your grandmother and mom’s trousseau for this anymore. Today, many designers and even markets can get this work done if you hunt for it. However, given the hard work, dedication, and skill that these form of embroidery require, it can cost A WHOLE LOT to get these made.