Phulkari – Rainbow of threads !
The spectacular flower embroidery, the invigorating use of colorful threads, the folk tales of Punjab ,the vividness of festivals –all this converges into the essence of Phulkari embroidery , literally meaning ‘flower working’.
My much loved deep red phulkari dupatta is a criss cross of blue and pink threads over green and yellow. The flowers are elaborately placed all over and the end panels have a gota patti border.The mirrors are delicately placed in-between the motifs. The result-a bright ,sparkling ,eye dazzling dupatta.
The origin of Phuklari can be traced down to many a century. It is a craft where embroidery is done in simple and delicate designs on dupattas and shawls. The cloth fully covered with Phulkari embroidery is called Bagh ,meaning a garden .The embroidery is done in long and short darn stitches to create numerous designs and patterns. Shading and variation is done by skillful use of diagonal, vertical and horizontal stitches.
The primary cloth used by women is home spun which is locally woven .It keeps the wearer warm in winters and is strong and long lasting. The cloth is easier to be worked upon and does not cost much .Today, the cloth used ranges from cotton to georgette to chiffon, fulfilling the changed lifestyles and requirements of the consumers. The designs have also come of age and represent the contemporary likings and requirements.Phulkari embroidery is also done on bedsheets, table mats, cushion covers and other home décor items.
Phulkari designs provides ample potential for individual expression. My recommendation to young girls is to carry stoles that are half the width of a regular phulkari dupatta .The stoles can be worn over jeans ,suits, skirts as they are easy to carry. They look awesome and fuse for a contemporary ethnic look. One can even get a churidaar made out of phulkari embroidery dupatta and wear it with a single color kurta (color of the kurta should be picked from one of the thread colors of the churidaar) ,match it with juttis and dangler earrings- a pakka punjabi look ! To add an edge – adorn a parandi in the hair and colour in the eyes !
The mesmerizing threadwork is done using bright colors like orange, green ,blue, pink, red, golden etc using silk strands. The much loved color is red and its shades as it’s used extensively during marriage and festivals .The innumerable motifs are taken from everyday life ranging from geometrical patterns to wheat and barley stalk .Birds ,animals, human figures along with vegetables, rivers ,scenes of village life are embroidered in exquisite designs. The designs are inspirations from life and everyday surroundings.The women even pick the entire bagh as the theme –dhaniya bagh (coriander garden),satranga bagh (garden of rainbow),leharia bagh (garden of waves), mirchi bagh, gobhi bagh-inspired by vegetables.
Phulkari embroidery is a grand evening wear and can be worn from light to heavy dinners. As in tradition, it is profoundly used during festivals and marriages. It’s a symbol of purity and good wishes that gets passed on from grandmothers to granddaughters , from mother in laws to daughter in laws. It reflects family togetherness and love for each other.
Each Phulkari designs reminds of the vibrant colourful joy along the green fields of Punjab with men and women in abundant laughter and spirit . An incredible wealth of detail is embroidered onto the cloth that brings colors to everyday life !