Monday, 8 September 2014


T A L K I N G   T H R E A D S - I 

 P H U L K A R I

Text: Hina Nitesh
 
We in India are fortunate to have a rich and diverse tradition of handicrafts. Be it ceramics or wood work or metal work or something as simple as embroidery, there is a mind boggling variety from distinct regions. We at OTDB have decided to introduce to you the different embroidery styles from all over the country.


Image Courtesy - www.farmstore.in

I would define embroidery as the art of painting with colored threads. It is not just about decorating a piece of cloth, there are entire stories painted on the cloth. Despite being done in particular ways, it bears the personality of its maker and in that sense is akin to painting on the canvas.

Image Courtesy - www.freepeople.com

Image Courtesy - Desi Crafts at www.etsy.com

Phulkari, my theme for today's post is the traditional needle work from Punjab and the region around it. The term finds its origins in phul meaning flower and kari meaning craft. Traditionally this form of embroidery was practised by the rural women with geometric patterns and motifs inspired from nature and everyday life.


Image Courtesy - www.sweetcouch.com

Darning stitch with horizontal or vertical or diagonal stitches is the basic stitch used in this craft. A single strand of silk floss is used for creating the patterns. What is interesting is the way shades are created – by changing the direction of the stitch, the variation in shades is achieved while using the same color thread.

Image Courtesy - www.1469workshop.com

Crafts and the wedding ceremonies in our country are interlinked and Phulkari is no different. It would interest the readers to know that the work on Phulkari trousseau for the bride would start off from the day she was born! However it was not made just for wedding, but for important milestones in a woman's life. Apart from the wedding, a woman would be gifted a Phulkari to be worn when she stepped out of the house for the first time after giving birth and her body would be wrapped in one when she died. Traditionally there was no concept of selling the craft – it was made by the women to be used by the family and the extended family.

Image Courtesy - www.betterinteriors.in
Image Courtesy - www.ifthelampshadefits.blogspot.in

Phulkari was done on cotton (khaddar) cloth on the rough side. Most of the times, the pattern was not drawn on the cloth but the woman doing the embroidery would keep a count of the stitches.


Image Courtesy - www.handsofindia.com

Image Courtesy - www.handsofindia.com

Like most other traditional craft forms, Phulkari too is fading away slowly. There are few who practice this time consuming art form. An attempt to revive the form is made with the introduction of machines. What used to be done with hands once is now being done on machine and has become more affordable. But the dilution has resulted in a great loss to the rich crafts heritage of our country.
Image Courtesy - www.etsy.com
Image Courtesy - www.farmstore.com

I am saddened to see such beautiful craft forms fading into history. What is needed to revive such a craft form? Popularizing it on a global stage would probably be the right approach. For this it would it would need a new definition in terms of cloth on which done or colours used or new patterns. Some designers are integrating it with other materials like Phulkari on Mangalgiri saris. Another approach is to give it a contemporary definition. Many designers and entrepreneurs are involved in this and the result is some really beautiful products in which Phulkari has been done for value addition. If more such people come forward, the craft can definitely be taken to newer heights.

Image Courtesy - www.handfulofart.com

Image Courtesy- www.sayashop.net

Image Courtesy - www.roposo.com
Image Courtesy - www.pinterest.com
Image Courtesy - www.pcte.edu.in

Image Courtesy - www.desifusion.com

Image Courtesy - www.desifusion.com


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