Opportunities Today :- June  2004 Issue

Phulkari Embroidery


Phulkari embroidery is peculiar to Punjab. Phulkari literally means flower craft. Baugh, which means garden, is a Phulkari in which the entire surface is richly ornamented by a continuous connected design with skillful manipulation of the darning or satin stitch. Chobes is the third type of Phulkari, where the edges alone are ornamented, the center being left plain. 

The origin of Phulkari is not quite fully known. Some say that the art was brought by Gujar nomads from Central Asia whereas some assert that the Muslim Persians who settled in Kashmir are responsible for it. It may have some association with Gulkari of Persia which was practiced there. It is also said that the jats, the strongest clan in South-east Punjab who are agriculturists, introduced the art of Phulkari wherever they went.

Phulkari is considered as an important part of the trousseau in Punjab. Each of the important ceremonies connected with marriage is associated with wearing of a particular type of Baugh. A Baugh or Phulkari, therefore, is not only a beautiful traditional art but a symbol of maternal love and faith expressed in embroidery.


Fabric Used: 
The beauty of Phulkari depended a great deal on the colour of the ground material. Khaddar cloth which was hand spun and hand woven cotton material, was always used for embroidery. The colour was mostly red, white, blue or black.

Threads Used:
The thread used was pure silk. It is untwisted silken floss called PAT. Golden yellow, green, white, crimson red and orange are the five colours prepared in selecting silk floss for Phulkari work. 

Motifs Used:
The motifs are made up of horizontal, vertical and diagonal stitches, producing geometric pattern in Phulkari designs while the Baugh has an overall geometrically floral pattern. 

Stitches Used:
The stitch craft of Phulkari consists long short darning stitches. It is a unique method of embroidery in that it is worked entirely on the wrong side of the cloth and the pattern takes shape on the right side. The design is neither drawn nor traced.

Kinds of Phulkari:
There are many types of Phulkari. The 'Chope' and 'Suber' were wedding Phulkari presented to bride by her maternal relations during the marriage ceremony. The plain red / dark red khaddar shawl known as 'Saloo' was used for daily household wear. 'Til Patra' shawls have very little embroidery and are inferior quality Khaddar. 'Nilak' is worked on black or navy blue Khaddar with yellow and crimson red pat.