EMBROIDERIES OF INDIA / PHULKARI WORK / TRADITIONS
- Phulkari plays a very important role in a girl’s life. Birth of a girl marks the beginning of the child’s grandmother of the task in creating the future bride’s trousseau, which is worn by the bride when she walks around the sacred fire during her wedding ceremony. When a woman gives birth to a boy she is given a Phulkari which is worn by her when she goes out for the first time after delivery, and during any religious festivals. Likewise when a lady dies her body is covered with Phulkari.
- Phulkari was never fabricated for sale; it was embroidered by a family for its own use, for every important moment in their life like wedding, birth, and religious functions, therefore the birth of this handicraft was mere domestic necessity and not any artistic motive.
- The embroidery work was made on a plain cotton fabric (khaddar) whose thread was manually spun, woven on loom and dyed with natural pigments, which would be joined either before or after the embroidery to form desired patterns.
- Khaddar could be of various colours, but the most popular was red (red being auspicious), and it was considered as a colour for youth whereas white was used by mature women or widows.
- Finishing a “Phulkari” signifies an important step for a girl to become a woman, as is mentioned even in the holy book for the Sikhs ““Only then will you be considered an accomplished lady when you will yourself, embroider your own blouse.”
- The embroideries were a mere reflection of their daily routine with subjects like vegetables that they eat, animals that were owned, being embroidered.
- Every woman had her way of embroidery, her way of representing. Just like any other daily chores she would teach this art to her daughter, thus there are no techniques or patterns that have been documented. For the same reason each family had its own style, patterns and designs.
- Embroidering on the rough coarse material “khaddar” reflects the tough, hard nature of the Punjabi women. Use of bright colours portrayed the colourful life and the use of different motifs reflected their observation, their imagination. Wearing a “Phulkari” adds delicacy, grace, simplicity to their personality.
- The complete khaddar was always made of two or three stripes which were approximately 50cm wide. Depending on the region, these stripes were sewn before or after the embroidery work.
- It seems that, in West Punjab (Pakistan), the joining was done afterwards. This explains the slightly distorted designs that can be found at times on some pieces of this origin.
- It is important to notice that Punjab, known for its cotton cultivations, was a very appropriate area for a local production of khaddar.
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