Punjab Phulkari

Punjab Phulkari
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The word Phulkari is equivalent to Punjab (State of India) and its culture. Its significance, in the lives of the people, especially in Punjab, has not diminished even today and continues to form an essential part of all marriage ceremonies taking place in Punjab. Phulkari actually means floral work as the whole area is embroidered and covered with flowers.

Phulkaris are simple and little embroidered odhni (head scarfs), dupatta and shawls, made for everyday use. While, the clothes that cover the entire body, made for special and ritual occasions like weddings and birth of a son, that completely filled fabric is called Baghs (“garden”) and disjointed work on the fabric is called “adha bagh” (half garden).

Proof of Origin

There are different presumptions about the origin of Punjabi Phulkari. One of such belief is that this embroidery was well-known in different parts of the country since the 7th century but lasted only in Punjab. Motifs equivalent to the ones found in Phulkari are also found in Kashida of Bihar and some of the embroideries of Rajasthan. Another belief is that this style of embroidery came from Iran where it was named Gulkari, also meaning floral work.

The embroidery on Punjabi Phulkari Dupatta is done with floss silk thread on coarse handwoven cotton fabric. Geometrical patterns are commonly embroidered on the Phulkaris. This Phulkari Dupatta is also known as Phulkari Chunni.

These Punjabi Phulkaris are also mentioned in Vedas, Mahabharat, Guru Granth Sahib and folk songs of Punjab. In its present form, Punjabi Phulkari embroidery has been popular since the 15th century.

The primary feature of Phulkari embroidery is the use of darn stitch on the wrong side of coarse cotton cloth with a colored silken thread.

In Phulkari, embroidery garnishes the cloth, whereas, in Bagh, it completely covers the cloth so that the base cloth is not visible. The end portion of pallav of Phulkari has separate panels of elegant handiwork of striking design.

The most favored color in Phulkari is red and its shades, because Bagh and Phulkari are used during marriage and other festivals. Red is also believed fortunate by Punjabi Hindus and Sikhs. Other colors used are brown, blue, black, and white.

No religious subject is embroidered on Punjabi Phulakris. The creative ability of Punjabi women has produced numerous and complex geometrical patterns. Although, most motif ideas were taken from everyday life. Wheat and barley stalk with ears are a common motif.

Types of Phulkari Designs


Bagh (garden) is a style where the overall surface of the Phulkari was embroidered. Usually, the designs were inspired by what the embroiderer saw in their surroundings. Some designs inspired by Kitchen includes — Belan Bagh, Mirchi Bagh, Gobhi Bagh, Karela Bagh, Dabbi Bagh. While, Dilli Darwaza, Shalimar Char, and Chaurasia Baghs demonstrated the layout of well- known Mughal Gardens.

Chope and Subhar
These two styles of Phulkari, the Chope and Subhar are worn by brides. The chope is embroidered on both sides of the cloth and it is embroidered on red with yellow.  Antique Chope Phulkari was created using the Holbein stitch that results in the same look on the front and the back of the cloth. Only the borders and the four edges of the garment are embroidered. The Subhar has one central motif and four motifs on the corners.

Darshan Dwar
Darshan Dwar is a type of Phulkari which was made as an offering. It has a paneled architectural design. The pillars and the top of the gate were covered with latticed geometrical patterns. In some Phulkaris, human beings were also shown standing at the gate.

Sainchi is the only style where the outlines of the figures are drawn using black ink. It is then covered with the embroidery with darn stitches. Sainchi embroidery drew inspiration from the village life.

Til Patra
The Til (sesame) Patra Phulkari has decorative embroidery which is spread out as if spreading sesame seeds. The term Til Patra means ‘the sprinkling of seeds’.

The Neelak phulkari is made of a black or red background with yellow or bright red embroidery. The color of the phulkari is mixed with metals.

Ghunghat Bagh
Originating in Rawalpindi, the Ghunghat Bagh is heavily embroidered around the center on the edge to be worn over the head. The embroidered center is then pulled over the face to form an embroidered veil.

The Chhaamas phulkari hails from Rohtak, Gurgaon, Hissar, and Delhi. The Chaamas phulkari includes mirrors that are sewn into the cloth with yellow, grey or blue thread.

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