Phulkari - An Affluent Heritage of Punjab
“Aee phulkari meri maa ne kadhi, iss noo ghut ghut japhiyan paawan”
These are lines from a traditional Punjabi musical composition in which a woman is revering her Phulkari dupatta. The woman had to leave her parent’s house after getting espoused, and now she recollects her mother who has embroidered this dupatta for her wedding day.
Phulkari, a rural tradition of handmade embroidery, literally meaning "flower work", was perpetuated by the women of Punjab (North-west India & Pakistan) during the 19th century and till the beginning of the 20th century.
Some major types of Phulkari & Bagh
This phulkari from the north of Punjab, shared by Hindu and Sikh traditions and very appreciated by collectors is identified by its white khaddar called thirma, symbol of purity.
That can be translated as "the gate through which God can be seen", unlike other phulkari was not made for a person but for a temple as an offering to thank the gods after a wish had been fulfilled. For this reason, while a dowry could contain dozens of phulkari, darshan dwar has never been made in big quantities.
means " fifty-two " in Punjabi and refers to the mosaic of fifty-two different patterns which decorate this piece (the number of patterns can be at times more or less than 52). Bawan bagh (or phulkari) was in fact a display of samples used by professional embroiderers to show their skills and the patterns they could provide to their clients.
Sainchi phulkari are figurative pieces narrating the life in the villages of south east Punjab. Local animals (goats, cows, elephants, big cats, scorpions, peacocks,...) are represented moving among wrestlers, farmers, weavers, etc.
The bride's maternal grandmother (Nani) was starting chope's embroidery as soon as her granddaughter was born. Instead of the common darning stitch, she was using the Holbein stitch which has the specificity of creating the same design on both the sides of the khaddar.
This can be interpreted as the grandmother's wish to make her granddaughter equally happy in her life and after her death, on the two sides of her existence. Chope was made to wrap and dry the bride after the ritual bath she was having before her wedding, for this practical reason chope is bigger than other phulkari.
The sunflower, refers to the main pattern of this phulkari. From a technical point of view this type of phulkari is unique as it is the only one that mixes in comparable proportions Holbein stitch (used to make chope phulkari) and the regular darning stitch