Phulkari

Phulkari

Phulkari, an embroidery technique from the Punjab in India, literally means "flower working", which was one time used for word embroidery, but in course of time, word “Phulkari” became restricted to embroidered head cloth/odini. Simple and sparsely embroidered odini and shawls, made for everyday use, are called "Phulkaris", whereas garments that cover the entire body are made for special and ceremonial occasions are known as "Baghs" (Garden).

Overview

Phulkaris and Baghs were worn by women all over Punjab during marriage festivals and other joyous occasions. They were embroidered by the women for their own use and use of other family members and were not for sale in the market. Thus, it was purely a domestic art which not only satisfied their inner urge for creation but brought colour into day to day life. In a way, it was true folk art. Custom had grown to give Phulkaris and Baghs to brides at the time of marriages. Some best Phulkaris and Baghs are known to have been made in Hazara and Chakwal, areas of Northern Punjab.

Some scholars feel that the art of Phulkari came from Iran where it is known as “Gulkari”. Some feel it came from Central Asia along with Jat tribes who migrated to India and settled in Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat. There is reference of Phulkari in Vedas, Mahabharat, Guru Granth Sahib and folk songs of Punjab.

The main characteristics of Phulkari embroidery are use of darn stitch on the wrong side of coarse cotton cloth with coloured silken thread. Punjabi women created innumerable alluring and interesting designs and patterns by their skilful manipulation of the darn stitch. The base khaddar cloth used in Western Punjab is finer from those of Central Punjab. Black/blue are not preferred in Western Punjab, whereas white is not used in East Punjab. In West Punjab, 2 or 3 pieces of cloth are first folded and joined together. In East Punjab, they are joined together first and then embroidered.

In Phulkari embroidery ornaments the cloth, whereas in Bagh, it entirely covers the garment so that the base cloth is not visible. The end portion of pallav of Phulkari have separate panels of exquisite workmanship of striking design.

The most favoured colour is red and its shades, because Bagh and Phulkari are used during marriage and other festivals. Red is considered auspicious by Hindus and Sikhs. Other colours are brown, blue , black, white. White was used in Bagh by elderly ladies. Silk thread in strands came from Kashmir, Afghanistan and Bengal. The best quality silk came from China.

No religious subject or darbar scenes were embroidered. Phulkari encompassed life in the villages. Creative ability of Punjabi women has produced innumerable and intricate geometrical patterns. However, most motifs were taken from everyday life. Wheat and barley stalk with ears are a common motif.

External links

* [http://www.tribuneindia.com/2002/20021201/herworld.htm#4 Tribune article on Revival of Phulkari]
* [http://www.tribuneindia.com/2002/20020513/cth2.htm Tribune article on "Queen of Crafts"]
* [http://www.lokesewa.com/phulkari.php Detailed information of Phulkari on Lokesewa.com]
* [http://www.craftandartisans.com/phulkari-embroidery-of-punjab.html Phulkari Embroidery of Punjab]
* [http://www.tribuneindia.com/2006/20060102/ttlife.htm#3 Tribue article on Phulkari]


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