Amazing pictures of Phulkari Embroidery Dupattas are posted right below throughout the blogpost.
Phulkari Embroidery handcraft from the Punjab region literally means flower work. The word ‘Phul’ means flower and ‘Kari’ means craft. Thus the word ‘Phulkari’ literally means floral work or floral craft.
Phulkari is the most famous rural embroidery tradition of Punjab, mentioned in the Punjabi folklore of Heer Ranjha. Its present form and popularity goes back to the 15th century, during Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s reign. Its distinctive property is that the base is a dull hand-spun or Khadi cloth, with bright coloured threads that cover it completely with embroidery, leaving no gaps.
Famous places for Phulkari Embroidery work are the cities of Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ambala, Ludhiana, Nabha, Jind, Faridkot, and Kapurthala.
Simple and sparsely embroidered Odini (head scarfs), Dupatta and shawls made for everyday use were called Phulkaris once, whereas garments that cover the entire body, made for special and ceremonial occasions like weddings etc, were called Baghs (Garden), and the scattered work on the fabric was called ‘Aadha Bagh’ (Half Garden).
Phulkaris Embroidery is done with floss silk thread on coarse hand woven cotton fabric. Geometrical patterns are usually embroidered in Phulkaris.
Phulkaris and Baghs were once worn by women all over Punjab during marriages, festivals and other joyous occasions. They were embroidered by family women for their own use, and for the use of other family members, and were not for sale in the market once upon a time, as it is today. Thus, it was purely a domestic art which not only satisfied the inner urge of women for creative work, but also brought colour into day-to-day life. In a way, it was a true folk-art.
Amazing pictures of Phulkari Embroidery Dupattas are posted throughout this blogpost.
The most popular colour in Phulkari is red and its different shades, as Bagh and Phulkari are used mostly during marriage and other festive occasions. 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 for embroidery came from Kashmir, Afghanistan and Bengal.
Traditionally, Phulkari garments were part of a girl’s wedding trousseau. Its motifs were expressive of her emotions and the number of Phulkari pieces in marriages defined the status of the family. Over the years, government has been working towards promotion of Phulkari Embroidery by organizing special training programs, fairs, and exhibitions. Since most of the women artisans creating Phulkari were in the unorganized sector, they were not making much money compared to the actual market price of their product. But with the involvement of the government, the situation is improving these days.
More information on Phulkari Embroidery work of Punjab in India, with web-links to the sources of the images of colourful, hand-embroidered Dupattas shared in this post, will follow soon. Stay tuned & please don’t miss the fun of further exploring this colourful craft-form of India.