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Ready Pattern Design & Trends Blog

Phulkari – A timeless piece of Art

by Astrid Kingerly

June 12, 2020 00:10 label 7 minutes read label Leave a comment

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When I say Indian culture never leaves your side, no matter what part you're in, believe it. India is not only bounded in its food and spices but its richness of art which seamlessly incorporate with different cultures. One such distinctive example is marriages or weddings. What makes a marriage memorable? Of course the bride and groom but after them, it's the vibrancy and the richness of colours that makes a Shaadi (Indian marriage) indelible, and in it, nothing can beat the handcrafted luxury of Punjab. Except for its vibrant food and earthiness, one more thing that you can vouch for the city of rivers is 'PHULKARI.'

What is Phulkari?

Phulkari- the art of weaving flowers on khaddar (a thick piece of cloth where one carves embroidery) though the origin of Phulkari is the 15th century. Some say it already has been mentioned in Vedas, Guru Granth sahib. Even many of the folk songs of Punjab like in Waris shah's Heer Ranjha describes the dresses of Heer and many more, but as the partition in 1947 happened, the existence of Phulkari somehow vanished. Some also say the tribes of Bihar and Rajasthan made similar of Phulkari in their villages but not much.

Earlier women of Punjab hand wove it with silk threads of different colours and different patterns, make birds, flowers, even animals each signifies different meaning. They craft each strand of the Dupatta for their daughters with love and warmth as a token of blessing from their elder ones for this forthcoming chapter in her life as a dowry depending on which class they belong. The shorter and closer the stitches are the more beautiful and detailed the Dupatta looks. They incorporate different colours. An intriguing truth is some says that the brighter the colour is, the merrier the marriage gets. Red, the colour of love and compassion highlights the whole wedding Dupatta.

Who knew the art which once made for spending the free time by the women of Punjab in their garden will now shift it to the larger mills to meet the need of today. The magic of hand weaved Phulkari has a more considerable significance back then, but now as we move ahead, it somehow gets lost in time. The demand for Phulkari made the sellers replace the essence of hands to the sound of giant machines in not only Punjab but also in Gujarat, Ludhiana, and the outskirts of Lucknow and even out of India to meet the need of required supplies.

As we move backwards, just in 2019, the trendsetter Bollywood weddings bring back to Phulkari in today's era. From dupattas to kurtas, to jackets to what not. How the fusion of Indo western brightens ups the wedding, tells a lot more about it. No matter where your Shaadi is, your Indian soul will always feel incomplete without the traditional Lehnga (the long skirt) and Choli (a short blouse). If it infuses with simplicity and traditionalism, you've to say yes to Phulkari.

Earlier we only see the Phulkari embroidery work on outfits of brides, but today these repeat patterns can be followed everywhere. From men's gear to bedsheets to pillow covers to rugs, the spirit of Punjab will never leave you all alone. As we move forward and glance over the coming years, flowers and their colours will never go out of fashion, especially when it comes to celebration. Hence, it is safe to preserve your Phulkari outfits for many more years.

"Ih phulkari meri maan ne kadhi/ iss no ghut ghut jhapiyan pawaan" (my mother embroidered this embroidery, I embrace it warmly)

After all, India is all about the love and compassion that left every mother teary daughter eyes while bidding goodbye. From weaving the traditional artwork in each strand in a singular piece of cloth to mending it for every corner of the house, such efforts will keep the survival of Phulkari alive till now.

About the author

Astrid Kingerly

Astrid Kingerly is a fashion designer at Ready Pattern. She curates surface design moodboards for upcoming seasons after researching on trends and forecasts. Do you have any design stories which you would like to showcase? Write to us.

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