Origin: Layers of history hint towards multiple theories behind the origin of Phulkari. One theory states that in 18th century, this word first appeared in Punjabi literature by Waris Shah, a Sufi poet. Waris Shah in his famed tale of Heer Ranjha describes the trousseau of Heer as Phulkari.
Another thought articulates that Phulkari embroidery came from Iran where it was called Gulkari. Some belief that the Jat tribe carried with them the tradition of Pulkari. Flora Anne Steel who lived in India for 22 years as Inspector of Girls Schools in Punjab studied Phulkari. She published an article in 1894, articulating "It seems indubitable that wherever the stalwart Jat tribes of the south-eastern plains came from, with them came the original Phulkari workers; for the art, almost uncanged, lingers still in its best form among the peasants of Rohtak, Hissar, Gurgaon, Delhi and to some extent in Karnal". Thus, like many Indian crafts, the origin of Pulkari remains a mystery.
The word phul means flower and kari means craft. Literally, the word Phulkari means floral craft. During marriage ceremonies, womenfolk would make Phulkari items. With time, Phulkaris became as a form of expression for young girls who would craft their joys, sorrows, hopes, dreams and yearnings on cloth. This gave birth to many folk songs.
Present Day: Stroll along the by-lanes of Punjab and you’ll be greeted by vivacious Punjabi women sitting on charpoys and creating splendid flower-embroidery craft on dupattas, shawls and other garments. The tradition and significance of Phulkari continues to dominate Punjabi marriage ceremonies.
This age old craft is still deep rooted in the essence of Punjab. Although, the technique has evolved from being detailed to less time consuming. Also, artisans have made the shift from natural hues to playing with coloured synthetic threads.
Sainchi Phulkaris is the most loved form of Phulkari. Today, this art form has found expresses its self on saris, bed covers, home furnishing, bags etc. Government has adopted various initiatives to ensure this art form continues to flourish.
Procedure: Phulkari involves long and short darn stitches are used to create innumerable designs and patterns. The artistic use of single stich adds character to this work. Another significant characteristic is that darn stitch is done on the wrong side of coarse cotton cloth.
The quality of the phulkari is dependent on the size of the stitch; smaller the stitch, the finer the embroidery. This embroidery is done using floss silk thread. In ancient times, silk threads were brought from Kashmir, Bengal, Afghanistan and China.
Phulkari craft does not depict religious messages, rather it portrays village life.
Bring Home Phulkari: Stop by Punjab Emporium to bring home the best of Phulkari.