Phulkari, which literally translates into ‘ower work’, has a history etched in the culture of Punjab. Spun from the charkha this spectacular style of embroidery is patterned on odinis, shawals, kurtis and chunris. The main characteristics of Phulkari embroidery are the use of darn stitch on the wrong side of cloth with coloured silken thread. A face of fashion that nds its rst mentions in Punjabi folklore of the romantic protagonists Heer and Ranjha, Phulkari is a dream weaver for every Punjabi girl.
Origin & History
Phulkari is brought to the Indian Subcontinent by the migrant Jat people of Central Asia in ancient times. Techniques and patterns of Phulkari were not documented but transmied by word of mouth. The tradition of Phulkari was associated with the Sikh heritage but was also shared with Hindus & Muslims.
Phulkari has it’s origins in the famous love story of Heer & Ranjha (a love tale) by Waris Shah. It’s present form and popularity goes back to 15th century. The embroideries were a mere reaction of a woman’s life and every woman had her way of representing.
In the days gone by, the Phulkari was an art that offered complete freedom of creativity. Motifs used were an adroit representation of the dear and sundry values of Punjab. Since it was essentially a communal activity, colors and shades were somewhat run-of-the-mill, however, the fact that most of the women were experts in Phulkari would even make mediocre look exquisite. Back in the days, Phulkari was a reection of routine and regular life of a typical Punjabi woman. She embroidered on a coon cloth a tale of her tryst with the gardens.
Sources of Inspiration
Thread by thread, each Phulkari motif was created in a geometric grid, which was a peculiar technique for coming up with a curvilinear final output. Long and short darn stitch was put to clever use for creating horizontal, vertical and diagonal thread work, inspired by routine of the artists, flowers, and animals.
Phulkari, a rural tradition of handmade embroidery, literally meaning “flower work” is an auspicious, head cover embroidered by the versatile ngers of Punjabi women. Embroidering on a Phulkari reveals a lot of ground cloth. A variety of characters, forms and designs are scattered and embroidered on a Phulkari.
With time Phulkari became increasingly elaborate and decorative which led to the evolution of a special ceremonial, Bagh Phulkari.Bagh literally means “garden of owers”, and the term distinguishes the owered Phulkari is that the embroidery is so profuse that the ground colour is no longer visible thus the embroidery becomes the fabric itself. Unlike Phulkari, Bagh demands more time and patience and more material, thereby increasing the expense. Thus Bagh set out to be a status symbol.
Chope is usually embroidered on the borders. It is gifted to the bride by her grandmother during some ceremony before wedding.The “Chope” is embroidered straight with two sided line stitch which appears same on both the side. Unlike Phulkari and Bagh where a variety of colours are used, Chope is generally embroidered with one colour (Golden or yellowish golden mostly).