Monday, 28 July 2008

Phulkari

Phulkari

The rich agricultural states of Punjab and Haryana are famous for the "phulkari" (flower work) shawls that were worn with choli and gaghra . It formed the traditional costme of rural women of this regioin. It was a costume both spectular and eminently practical. Phulkaris were made for every day wear. Usually the border and field of the shawls were not so densly embroidered. Phulkaris were made for family use, or as gifts, very rarely were they made for sale.

Motifs of flowers, birds and human figures were embroidered in soft untwisted silk in combinations of gold, yellow, white, organge or red, on a ground that was usually a brick red color, but could sometimes be black or white. Although designs on phulkaris were often figurative, motifs and scenes from daily life-houses, temples, flowers, animals, wedding rituals and processions were used. Images of vegetables and flowers, wheat and barley stalks, the sun, moon, trees and rivers, mughal gardens, kites and even playing cards were stitched on phulkaris.

the embroidery was worked in silk thread from Kashmir, Afghanistan or Bengal, although the best quality silk was Chinese. the yarn was worked on a coarse handmade cloth known as Khaddar, which was produced in the village by local Jullaha. Three of these pieces would be joined together to form a phulkari. Khaddar was locally available cheap, hard wearing, and more importantly, it was preferred to mill made cloth as its coarse weave facilitated the counting of threads necessary for phulkari work.

The design was embroidered from the reverse side using darning stitches over counted threads. Only one thread was taken up with each pick of the needle, leaving a long stitch below to form the pattern. Stitching ran in both horizontal and vertical directions in order to give a variation in texture. In addition to darning stitch, double running stitch or chain stitch is used to form the outline of figures of birds, animals and humans, which were then filled in with darning and satin stitch. Satin or stem stitch was used on phulkari. Borders and blanket stitch or button hole stitch was used for finishing off the edges.

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