SOME EMBROIDERED LOVE ON BAISAKHI
From an exhibition that’s tracing its history to Bollywood’s tryst with the colourful threadwork, here’s why the world is focussing on phulkari
The art of storytelling has many forms, and this embroidery that finds its roots in Punjab, has a big role to play, not only in history, but also in classic and contemporary fashion. As we celebrate the harvest festival of Baisakhi today, here’s a quick lesson in phulkari.
The art of this threadwork goes back to centuries marking milestones in a woman’s life. Traditionally, the embroidery was done with silken thread on hand spun fabric by women of the village to commemorate birth, weddings and was worn at auspicious occasions. While phulkari, as the name suggests, connotes the flower motif, bagh (garden) is a variant that includes motifs of birds, plants, intricate geometric shapes, taking over the entire length of the fabric. Apart from these, there are many styles of phulkari and bagh embroidery, based on the type of stitch done and what it aims to depict. These include chope (embroidery done on the borders), reshmi shisha (embroidery that includes mirror work), sainchi (embroidery that includes figurines and scenes), thirma (embroidery done on a white base) and darshan dwar (embroidery depicting gates of a temple).
IN POP CULTURE
The word phulkari was born in the literary domain, when Sufi poet, Waris Shah narrated the tragic love story of Heer and Ranjha in the 18th century. Fast forward to
the present day and Bollywood has also shown love for the textile by reviving it on the big screen. From Kareena Kapoor Khan in Jab We Met (2007) to Anushka Sharma in Phillauri (2017),
the embroidery has helped represent Punjab. It was also reported that Anushka sourced phulkari odhnis from local markets and weavers in Punjab.
(Left) Kareena Kapoor Khan’s phulkari suit in Jab We Met; Anushka Sharma sourced phulkari from local weavers in Punjab (right)
Using the phulkari technique, here’s a Sangrur Bell in making