Phulkari – The Traditional Embroidery of Punjab, India


The word Phulkari literally means “flower-embroidery”. The art of Phulkari originated in 15th century AD in Punjab, a north Indian state in India. Most of the women in small towns and villages are busy creating amazing Phulkari shawls, dupattas and other garments. Phulkari is basically created on shawls and dupattas that cover head whereas Bagh is created on the garment that covers the whole body. Today Phulkari has become an integral part of day today life of women in Punjab.

The embroidery is very simple but the color combination, stitches and the pattern makes it look spectacular and gorgeous. It is created on all sorts of cloth and is used in various ways. Today phulkari is not only seen on garments but can also be seen on bed sheets, pillow covers, curtains, wall hangings etc.

The Creation:

It is a form of traditional art where it is done in simple designs with long and short darn stitches. The shorter the stitch is the finer it looks. The art of Phulkari lies in the manipulation of patterns, colors and the length of stitches. In early days the silk thread used in embroidery was brought from Afghanistan, China and other parts of India like Kashmir and Bengal.

The Colors:

The bright colors are always preferred when it comes to Phulkari because it refers to flowers and garden. The main colors used are Yellow, red, green, orange, pink and blue. The most interesting part of phulkari is that, no different shades are used for shading purpose; rather it’s done with the horizontal, diagonal and vertical stitches. The shiny thread reflects different shades in different directions.

The fabric:

In early days the cloth used for phulkari was basically cotton and khadi which was home-spun and dyed. The tough cloth was appropriate to work without frame and was easy to maintain. The stitch counting was also easy, as the weaver has to count the stitches to maintain the symmetry. Today a variety of fabric is used in this traditional embroidery. The dupattas can vary from chiffon, Georgette and crepe.

The Variety of Phulkari:

The chope : Given by the grandmother of the bride, chope is a piece of cloth embroidered on the borders only and is worn as veil. It is a tradition in Punjabi wedding and is a occasion celebrated befor marriage.

Ghunghat bagh or sari-pallau : It is usually the pallu and the portion that covers head. The pallu and the head portion contain a triangular embroidered part and rest of the cloth is embroidered on borders only.

Bawan Bagh: Bawan means fifty two, it is a style that consists of various geometrical designs embroidered on one single piece of cloth.

Darshan Dwar: Darshan Dwar is a gate that gives a view of the deity. It is basically embroidered to be presented in the temple or Gurudwara.

Suber: Suber is a piece of cloth that is worn by the bride in the wedding while taking the feras around the Guru Granth Sahib or the sacred fire. The cloth has five motifs embroidered one in center and the other four on each of the corners.

Satrangi: A seven color phulkari