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Pic credits: www.dsource.in

Punjab is widely known for its vibrant nature and cultural ethos. It has given birth to too many art forms and one of them is Phulkari. The ethnic phulkari design has its roots in Patiala. Phulkari is essentially a hand-embroidered technique, literal meaning of which is “flower work”, where designs are woven on the back side of the fabric. Generally it is embroidered by rural ladies on shawls and dupattas. However, with changing trends, the designs have now found its place on kurtas, saris, juttis, decorative household items and even bed sheets.

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With traditional importance, phulkari has been a part of auspicious occasions of Punjab. It is gifted by elder women of the house to the younger women on occasions such as child birth or marriage. Specially woven using brightly coloured threads, the designs of phulkari were a reflection of the daily life of its weavers.

Its types include Bagh and Chope. A phulkari pattern so intricately woven that the fabric is not visible is known as Bagh, and embroidery on borders which appears same on both sides becomes Chope. Even the colours used have significant meaning attached to it. For instance, red symbolizes passion; white reflects purity and serenity, green shows fertility and many more.

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Pic credits: www.dsource.in

With changing times, traditions associated with phulkari are also changing. In earlier times, phulkari cloth pieces were not meant for selling or buying. Households passed on this art verbally, and they were created for domestic use only. Perhaps, that is why each design pattern belonging to a designer varies from the other designer. Hence, it is necessary to understand that phulkaris are not just mere piece of fabric but more than that. It is often reiterated in folklores and folk tales where the beauty of phulkari gets personified as love itself.

Intricacies of phulkari weave are so beautiful that it demands special protection from evil eyes. Therefore, just as every traditional designer has its own speciality, they also have a way of introducing imperfection in their creation. Traditional weavers generally add a blemish somewhere in the fabric to keep it just a little short of perfection.

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With their arrival in fashion market, phulkaris have made an elegant addition to our wardrobes. Phulkari kurtis are generally designed on cotton fabric, if not on the traditional khaddar (coarse cotton). Teaming them up with plain salwar or light accessories is sufficient, as the fullness of design is sufficient on its own. Now phulkaris are not just a statement for women, but also men. Remember Kapil Sharma sporting a phulkari jacket on the episode celebrating DDLJ?

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Jacqueline Fernandeze sporting a phulkari jacket during a Manish Malhotra event at WIFW

Phulkari designs have moved on with time. What was once a part of specific culture internally has now found global exposure and recognition! It is another fact that handmade phulkaris are now vanishing from houses as they demand time and perfection. Now industry made designs have replaced them. Still, timelessness of this art is invaluable and appreciable.

– Loveleen Singh

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