Monday, November 2, 2020

Phulkari Sari

Phulkari sari  

Phulkari, which literally translates into ‘flower work’, has a history etched in the culture of Punjab. Spun from the charkha this spectacular style of embroidery is patterned on odinis, shawls, kurtis and chunris. The main characteristics of this embroidery are the use of darn stitch on the wrong side of cloth with colored silken thread. 

Origin and History

In the days gone by, it was an art that offered complete freedom of creativity. Motifs used were an adroit representation of the dear and sundry values of Punjab. Since it was essentially a communal activity, colors and shades were somewhat run-of-the-mill, however, the fact that most of the women were experts in Phulkari would even make mediocre look exquisite. Back in the days, it was a reflection of routine and regular life of a typical Punjabi woman. She embroidered on a cotton cloth a tale of her tryst with the gardens.


The motifs spun out of the untwisted floss of silk, which is known as the pat, are cleverly fitted within the grids, representing the life in the hamlets of Punjab. Different Phulkari designs are reserved for different occasions. While Chope is a gift from the maternal uncle to the bride, the Wari da Bagh represents happiness.

Similarly Chamba, Suber and Ghunghat Bagh all have a specific meaning and value attached. Pachranga and Satranga varieties are available in each of these types, which, basically means that the needlework used on most Phulkari works makes use of five or seven different colors of threads.

Various types of Phulkari Sari

Thirma: Symbol of purity, worn by elder women & widows, but at times, the choice of white is made for esthetical reasons.

Darshan Dwar: Made for a temple as an offering to thank god after a wish has been fulfilled.

Bawan Bagh: Mosaic of fifty­two different patterns which decorate the piece and is the rarest of all.

Vari­da­Bagh: Made on an orange reddish khaddar with the main pattern being a group of three­ four small concentric lozenges (diamond) of growing size.

Chope: Embroidered with one color, usually on the borders.

Surajmukhi: Sunflower refers to the main pattern of this Phulkari.

Kaudi Bagh: Chains of small white squares representing stylized cowries.

Panchranga: Decorated with chevrons of five different colours.

Satranga: Decorated with chevrons of seven different colours.

Meenakari: Made of gold and white coloured pat, is decorated with small multicoloured lozenges referring to enamel work (meenakari)

Wearing Phulkari

Traditionally considered a bridal outfit, the Phulkari is till date widely worn during the wedding season in a family. Bright reds, oranges and blues add a vibrant and joyous touch to their celebrations. Nonetheless, lighter Phulkari works dyed in sober colours make elegant daily wears. Since Phulkari is a form of embroidery that can be done on almost any fabric, seasonal variations are not a limitation for its suitability. Phulkari Odinis/Dupattas can be teamed with plain kurti-patiala or a cotton top worn over rugged denim for a contemporary look.


Phulkari is one of the most detailed and intricate kinds of needlework that needs proper care. A phulkari garment should we washed with delicate hands and should be ironed on the reverse side. Occasionally, getting it dry-cleaned will keep the fabric bright and lively.

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 pass time by women of Punjab

It takes at least 80 days to finish a Phulkari salwar kameez

The patterns of Phulkari are neither drawn nor traced

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