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Phulkari embroidery technique from the Punjab region (divided between India and
Pakistan) and Haryana literally means flower work, which was at one time used as the word
for embroidery, but in time the word “Phulkari” became restricted to embroidered shawls and
head scarfs.
Simple and sparsely embroidered odini (head scarfs), dupatta and shawls, made for everyday
use, are called Phulkaris, whereas garments that cover the entire body, made for special and
ceremonial occasions like weddings and birth of a son, fully covered fabric is called Baghs
("garden") and scattered work on the fabric is called "adha bagh" (half garden).
This whole work is done with white or yellow silk floss on cotton khaddar and starts from the
center on the fabric called "chashm-e-bulbul" and spreads to the whole fabric.

Punjab is known for its Phulkaris. The embroidery is done with floss silk thread on
Coarse hand woven cotton fabric. Geometrical patterns are usually embroidered on the
Phulkaris. Phulkaris and Baghs were worn by women all over Punjab during marriage festivals
and other joyous occasions. They were embroidered by the women for their own use and use
of other family members and were not for sale in the market.
Thus, it was purely a domestic art which not only satisfied their inner urge for creation but
brought colour into day-to-day life. In a way, it was true folk art. Custom had grown to give
Phulkaris and Baghs to brides at the time of marriages. The exquisite embroidery for Baghs
are known to have been made in the districts of Hazara, Peshawar, Sialkot, Jhelum,
Rawalpindi, Multan, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ambala, Ludhiana, Nabha, Jind, Faridkot,
Kapurthala and Chakwal of the Punjab region. Bagh and phulkari embroidery has influenced
the embroidery of Gujarat known as 'heer bharat' in its use of geometrical motifs and stitchery.
The main characteristics of Phulkari embroidery are use of darn stitch on the wrong side of
coarse cotton cloth with coloured silken thread. Punjabi women created innumerable alluring
and interesting designs and patterns by their skilful manipulation of the darn stitch. The base
khaddar cloth used in Western Punjab is finer from those of Central Punjab. Black/ blue are not
preferred in Western Punjab, whereas white is not used in East Punjab. In West
Punjab, 2 or 3 pieces of cloth are first folded and joined together. In East Punjab, they are
joined together first and then embroidered.

The Comeback of Phulkari
The embroidery took a backseat with the India and Pakistan division. However, it soon shine
back up like an evergreen style statement. Even though there is an incomparable demand for
Phulkari work till date, there are limited viable sources left from where one can purchase a
hand-woven Phulkari fabric. With commercialization of the needlework, speedy methods of
production were devised.

Various types of Phulkari in India:

1. Chope and subhar : The two styles of chope and subhar are worn by brides. The chope is

Embroidered on both sides of the cloth. Antique Chope Phulkari created using the Holbein
stitch that results in the same visual on the front and the back of the textile. Courtesy the
Woven Souls collection. The borders and the four edges of the cloth are embroidered in fine
embroidery. The subhar has a central motif and four motifs on the corners.

2. Til patra : The til (sesame) patra has decorative embroidery which is spread out as if
spreading sesame seeds. The term til patra means 'the sprinkling of seeds’.

3. Neelak : The neelak phulkari is made of a black or red background with yellow or bright
red embroidery. The colour of the phulkari is mixed with metals.
4. Ghunghat bagh : Originating in Rawalpindi, the ghunghat bagh is heavily embroidered
around the centre on the edge to be worn over the head. The embroidered centre is then
pulled over the face so as to form an embroidered veil.

5. Chhamaas : The chamas phulkari hails from Rohtak, Gurgaon, Hisar and Delhi. The
chhamaas phulkari incorporates mirrors which are sewn into the cloth with yellow, grey or blue

6. Senchi phulkari: The senchi phulkari is popular in and around Ferozepur. The senchi
phulkari incorporates designs of birds, jewellery such as bracelets, earrings, rings and

7. Thirma : Symbol of purity, worn by elder women & widows, but at times, the choice of
white is made for esthetical reasons.
8. Darshan Dwar : Made for a temple as an offering to thank god after a wish has been

With a stack of his blocked cloth, the shopkeeper travels different villages where he distributes
the pieces to different women in same or different villages. The colors and threads are already
decided either by the shopkeeper or by the buyer. Many women have started the use of frame as
the cloth used nowadays is not coarse enough to be embroidered without a frame. Following the
guidelines the embroidery is done from the top.
There are some women who do embroidery without any guidelines or any patterns drawn
beforehand. These Phulkaris are known as “bolpuri”. Here the woman pulls a strand of thread as
a mark of reference, and following that they do the embroidery.
Sometimes the embroidery is so thick that the Phulkari looks same on both the ends, such type is
known as “kaeta Phulkari”. The embroidery is done from top to bottom. Women
Have started using a combination of stitches like stem stitch, chain stitch, running stitch etc.
Quality of a Phulkari have reduced tremendously, earlier where women would take years to
finish a single Phulkari, women today are able to finish around 2-3 Phulkari in a month. Thus
there is a wide range of Phulkari depending on the neatness of the embroidery.

Innovations in Phulkari
Burgeoning demand of this fabric from various parts of the globe has been the nucleus of
Change that the tradition of Phulkari has witnessed. Having bagged a contemporary label, the
Phulkari today is a lot different. For example, no longer is the darn embroidered on the wrong
side of the cloth. A coarser style of embroidery that showcases mechanical work rather than
detailed handwork, is being largely deployed by the industry owing to the bulk demand of the
embroidered fabrics. Likewise, Khaddar is being replaced by a variety of other textiles such as
chiffon, georgette, cotton, etc.
New designs for outfits are being established by several modern designers to reach out to the
new segments of customers. Presently, machine made Phulkari attires are being manufactured
in Amritsar and Ludhiana which is affordable for low end customers. Almost twelve Phulkari
suits can be made in one day by machines which all the more lowers the price of the product.
Nevertheless, the machine made products have not reduced the sale of traditional Phulkari,
instead new markets have opened up popularizing it, making it available to masses.

Interesting Facts and Comparisons

 The silk thread that was traditionally used in Phulkari work was straighter than
an uncoiled steel wire.
 A heavy phulkari work dupatta can cost almost as much as a banarasi silk saree.
 Phulkari embroidery makes use of the least complicated patterns to create
extremely intriguing designs.
 Originally Phulkari was done as a pastime by women of Punjab.
 It takes at least 80 days to finish a Phulkari salwar kameez.
 The first mentions of Phulkari work were found in the Punjabi text on Heer and
 The patterns of Phulkari are neither drawn nor traced.
 Bollywood actor Priyanka Chopra adorned a Phulkari Churidar Kameez in the
movie ‘Teri Meri Kahani’.

The Future of Phulkari

Phulkari work has broaden its fabric from Odinis to full-length suits. That time is not away
when we will recognise it being used on curtains as an important part of the interior industry.
The rural crafts industry could identify Phulkari developing as a trend in designing handicrafts
and ornaments as well.


1. SUITS Rs.2,000/- to Rs.6,000/-

2. SAREES Rs. 3,130/- to Rs. 9,000/-
3. BLOUSE Rs. 1,170/- onwards
4. DUPATTA Rs.1,450/- to Rs. 5,250/-
5. LEHENGA Rs. 3,000/- to Rs. 6,000/-
6. LEHENGA CHOLI Rs. 6,000/- to 9,000/-
7. KURTI Rs. 799/- to 3000/-
8. JACKETS Rs. 1,499/- to 4000/-
9. SALWAR Rs. 1,199/- onwards
10. STOLES Rs. 1,150/- onwards
11. PALAZZO Rs. 2,850/- onwards
12. SKIRT Rs. 2,000/- onwards


1. BEDSHEET Rs. 3,000/- onwards

2. CUSHION COVERS Rs. 1,499/- onwards
3. TABLE COVER Rs. 3,999/- onwards

Pictures of the Product Line Available: