As titch in time
PHULKARI IS AN INSEPARABLE PART OF ANY CELEBRATION IN THE REGION
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.
TYPES OF PHULKARI
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.