Flower Embroidery

Phulkari Dupatta by Smitz. Photo by Pradnya Prachare (www.instagram.com/pradnya_noor7/) 

This one literally means " flower works" or embroidery that's like flower. This is one art that got its GI in 2011 and has instant connect with land of five rivers. Yes, its Phulkari! With Spring here , what could be better topic for this post than an embroidery that means Flower! 

Comprised of darn stitch on trademarked geometrical pattern, Phulkari was traditionally a folk art done by ladies to endow dupatta and marriage/ festive or auspicious days. When done all over the textile its known as bagh..or garden. The embroidery cover the whole surface of fabric , so that the base fabric is not visible. Silk threads are use in this embroidery and has a very rustic richness. Earlier this art was done by ladies and Phulkari fabrics were meant to be used by the family members only.  It is said that a girl is considered to be ready to be woman , if she completes a Phulkari. It represents an milestones and celebration in lives.In that sense it's a domestic art that has over the years become a well established commercial success. 

Historically , as per few sources , Phulkari is said to be influenced by embroidery of Gujarat known as heer bharat. Few sources credit Arabian influences. Mythological play like Mahabharat is said to mention Phulkari suggesting that embroidery has been practiced over the centuries. While most of other tribal art(s) use mythological or religious or nature inspired motifs, Phulkari stands apart with its geometric motif and is very village oriented. This is more so as there is little or less variation in the motif across the centuries.The only variation is in color(s) and placement of the motifs. 

Phulkari owns its richness in density of the stitches and overall a very controlled colour palette. This embroidery has leapfrogged from dupattas to dresses, gowns, bed linens, coats, Kurtis, caps and even shoes. 

This one has caught eye of various top notch designers including Manish Malhotra , who in Wills Lifestyle Fashion Week 2013 showcased the richness and beauty of this 'domestic rustic art'. 

Manish Malhotra's WLFW 13 collection was about Phulkari. 

As it has happened with many arts , machinery has not made this embroidery mass produced. The trick to find out hand made Phulkari is to .. see the knots behind the fabric. Yes, hand made Phulkari / Bagh is priceless so do not substitute it with anything else. 

How to style Phulkari ! 
  • If its a Dupatta , drape it in a way to showcase the work. See my previous post for some styles. 
  • If its full Bagh and Phulkari salwar kameez set , do wear it as a set as the colour tones and styles will be pre-coordinated. 
  • If its a stole or a Jacket, wear it with single colour black / blue/ red or white kurta for dramatic look.

Happy reading and happy dressing up! 
Do leave your feedback and comments. 

Image : First image by Prandya Prachare showcasing Smitz' Phulkari dupatta. Second Image from Google search. Third Image : google search on WLIFW 13. 
Sources on historical evidence for Phulkari is Wiki page on Phulkari. 

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