A Group of Six Phulkari Fragments: Silk Floss Hand Embroidery
early to mid twentieth century
various sizes from 19" x 9 1/2" to 46" x 3 1/2, 48.25 cm x 24 cm to 117 cm x 9 cm
A phulkari (flower work) is a traditional shawl from the Punjab region, which is now divided between Pakistan and India. The phulkari, which usually shows stylized, floral forms can be used for everyday wear or, in the case of heavily worked shawls, called baghs (garden), using mainly gold colored silk floss, are used at marriages.
Phulkari are painstakingly embroidered: they are worked on the reverse side and they are thread counted: the base cloth under this golden silk floss is a hand spun, hand woven, terra cotta-colored cotton.
There are six pieces here of various sizes, each cut from a larger piece, from long and short slivers to two elongated rectangles.
Beautiful to collect and to study, or beautiful to use in a textile art project.
From “Traditional Indian Textiles” by John Gillow and Nicholas Barnard (Thames and Hudson):
“The rich agricultural states of Punjab and Haryana are famous for the phulkari (flower work) shawls, that worn with a tight fitting choli and gaghra, formed the traditional costume of rural women of this region. It was a costume both spectacular and eminently practical. Phulkaris were made for everyday wear. Usually the border and field of the shawl were not so densely embroidered, with much of the ground cloth exposed. For ceremonial occasions, however, a special kind of phulkari known as a bagh (garden) was made, in which the whole of the ground was covered with embroidery, so that the base cloth was not visible at all. On the birth of a baby, the grandmother, after a ceremony of prayers and distribution of sweets to the baby’s aunts, would start to embroider a bagh. It would take several years to complete and was embroidered with special care to be used later at the grandchild’s wedding, after which it would be kept as a family treasure.”