As titch in time


India Today - - CULTURE - by Puja Raina Ma­hal­dar

Tra­di­tional Pun­jabi songs, the wed­ding sea­son and Phulkari go hand in hand. Passed on from one gen­er­a­tion to another for more than 700 years, the fa­mous Pun­jabi hand­work has come a long way. De­rived from the com­bi­na­tion of two words Phul ( flower) and Kari ( work), this ex­cep­tional hand­work from re­gions of Pun­jab and Haryana has be­come pop­u­lar all over the world and in fash­ion cir­cles. Phulkari is an in­tri­cate part of a woman’s wardrobe in Pun­jab, and it es­pe­cially gains im­por­tance dur­ing mar­riage, fes­ti­vals and other joy­ous oc­ca­sions. In ear­lier times, the Phulka­r­ian tech­nique was only used to craft at­tires for fam­ily mem­bers and was never avail­able in the mar­ket. Phulka­ris then be­came part of bri­dal trousseau’s. The more lav­ishly em­broi­dered, the more they flaunted the sta­tus of bride’s fam­ily.

Lajwanti Devi, 60, from Pa­tiala, and her fam­ily are one of those who have kept the tra­di­tion of Phulkari alive till date. In fact, Lajwanti was even awarded Rash­tra­p­ati Award ( 1995) for her work in keep­ing the tra­di­tion and the art alive. “I in­her­ited this from my mother and used to do it as a girl. Some of neigh­bours would al­ways ap­proach us dur­ing the wed­ding sea­son for Phulka­ris. I even­tu­ally made it a full- time oc­cu­pa­tion and the ini­tia­tive to keep the art alive,” she says proudly.

Phulkari orig­i­nally used to be done on hand­spun cot­ton or khad­dar with silk threads that were hand- dyed with veg­eta­bles. How­ever, mod­ern Phulkari tech­nique is used on cot­ton, chif­fon, ge­or­gette and silk as well. Malwa, the south east­ern re­gion of Pun­jab, and Haryana are the main hubs of Phulkari em­broi­dery. Bathinda, Pa­tiala, Rajpura, Zirkpur, Ba­hadur­garh and Tripuri are some of the oth­ers where the tech­nique is prac­ticed. While Phulka­ris are in­creas­ingly get­ting in de­mand, the wages of artists, per piece, ranges from mere Rs 500 to 3000, de­pend­ing on the com­plex­ity of the em­broi­dery and the artist’s ex­pe­ri­ence.

Many NGOs are work­ing to­wards find­ing em­ploy­ment for th­ese artists while the state gov­ern­ment, through its em­po­ri­ums, strive to pro­mote their art­work. Gur­preet Singh, Deputy Gen­eral Man­ager, Phulkari Em­po­rium, says, “Our em­po­ri­ums make sure that this art work is pro­moted in its pure form. We se­lect the work as per the com­mit­tee di­rec­tives and sell it. We be­lieve in mak­ing qual­ity work pop­u­lar. Most of the cus­tomers that buy the work are ei­ther art lovers or NRIs. The em­broi­deries are avail­able from Rs1500 on­wards and tra­di­tional form of the hand­work is avail­able from Rs 3300 on­wards.”

Prem Ku­mar, owner of Phulkari Works, Pa­tiala, says that its mostly NRIs who are big on buy­ing Phulka­ris from him. “Mostly NRI Pun­jabis buy

Phulka­ris. I think it con­nects them with their roots or maybe they just want to col­lect qual­ity hand­work. The prices of th­ese Phulka­ris start from Rs 1500 and can go up to Rs 50,000,” he says. De­sign­ers like Man­ish Malhotra have rein­tro­duced Phulka­ris into main­stream fash­ion and even Bol­ly­wood has warmed up to the art. Harsh­preet Singh, owner of Phulkari Du­patta House, Pa­tiala says, “This art form was dy­ing due to its lim­ited ac­cess, but ever since Bol­ly­wood and big fash­ion names like Man­ish Malhotra, Ritu Beri etc in­tro­duced this beau­ti­ful art work to world, the de­mand from other cities and NRIs has in­creased. We are happy that the work our women used to do for plea­sure is now world fa­mous.”

Madhu Sud, a fash­ion de­signer who is work­ing ex­ten­sively to make Phulka­r­ian em­broi­dery pop­u­lar, be­lieves it is the duty of the present gen­er­a­tion to pre­serve and ex­per­i­ment with what the an­ces­tors passed on. “Phulkari work is a choc- a- bloc of colours - one can use it as a tra­di­tional du­patta, merge it in a lehenga, use it as anarkali stoles, bags shawls, coats, sa­rees etc. It is a per­fect mix and match ma­te­rial and gels well with fu­sion wear. I be­lieve Phulkari is an ev­er­green art that can be merged with both Western as well as In­dian wear. Phulkari anarkali, saris and wed­ding lehen­gas are quite in de­mand. We get or­ders not just from Pun­jab, but from NRIs and nonPun­jbais too,” says Madhu.

Har­mony in colour pat­terns and vi­brancy in de­signs has made Phulkari unique. Since the ethos of the art have a strong foun­da­tion of love, de­vo­tion, pres­tige and the power of trans­for­ma­tion of women from maid­en­hood to mar­riage, this art has sur­vived invasion of western cul­ture.


Phulkari can be broadly di­vided into 52 dif­fer­ent kinds, but the main cat­e­gories, de­pend­ing on the kind of work that is done on the fab­ric, are:

BAGH It is the most com­plex of em­broi­deries in Phulka­r­ian tech­nique. Bagh means a ‘ gar­den’, which means that this type of em­broi­dery exquisitely cov­ers the base cloth en­tirely un­til it is not vis­i­ble at all.

DAR­SHAN DWAR Mean­ing ‘ gate of God’, this pat­tern of work is used for re­li­gious pur­pose only. It is widely used as a canopy­for the place where the Guru Granth Sahib is kept.

SU­BER AND CHOPE This type of em­broi­dery is typ­i­cally re­lated to wed­dings and is pre­sented to the bride by her ma­ter­nal fam­ily on the wed­ding day as a gift.

PANCHRANGA AND SATRANGA True to its name, a panchranga is a five ( panch)- colour Phulkari and a satranga is a seven ( sat)- colour Phulkari.

NAZAR BUTI This type of Phulkari has a patch or a tiny cor­ner em­broi­dered with dark blue or black threads or manya times left blankto ward off evil eye.

Phulkari prod­ucts avail­able in mar­ket Du­patta, stoles, bags, footwear, phone cov­ers, clutches, saris, suits, kur­tis, coats and skirts.

Price Range From Rs 1500 to Rs 60,000, de­pend­ing upon the em­broi­dery and qual­ity of the base cloth. Prom­i­nent shop­ping des­ti­na­tions - Pun­jab gov­ern­ment em­po­ri­ums, Sat­Guru Col­lec­tions - Put­lighar, Ka­tra Jaimal Singh - Am­rit­sar, Gullu Ex­cu­sive - Am­rit­sar, Singh Brothers - Am­rit­sar, Phulkari Dup­ptta - House, Hem Bagh - Pa­tiala, Pa­tiala Du­patta House and Phulkari Cen­tre, Adalat Bazar - Pa­tiala, Roopam Du­patta Cen­tre - Adalat Bazaar, Pa­tiala, Phulkari Works - Tripuri Town.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.