September 19, 2014

Handicrafts of India: Punjab

Punjab - the land of five rivers, India’s bread basket, the cradle of Green revolution and the land of saint soldiers. Punjabi handicraft is an insight into the state's rich history and culture that has always remained in flux and is home to an ever-assimilating fashion industry. One of the greatest contribution of Punjabi textile crafts to the Indian fashion industry is its famous embroidery art - the phulkari.


The base fabric is generally red, expressing the moods of happiness, prosperity, love, passion and desire.Traditionally, the embroidery was done in shades of yellow which is symbolic of happiness and success. At times, bright orange is also used to express cheerfulness, creativity and wonder.


The basic patterns of the motifs are typical geometric figures which include triangle that symbolizes the holy trinity, circle that represents divine character, and curved lines that symbolize water. Many other motifs such as flowers and fruits were also used to depict nature's beauty and good luck.

Here are some popular forms of phulkari that adorn the traditional Punjabi attire:


This type of phulkari is a type of offering to God, an expression of gratitude after having a wish fulfilled. Hence, these designs are made on special orders and in small quantities. It was primarily made in east Punjab, mostly a non-Islamic area, which allowed the development of a broad variety of human and animal motifs. 

A part of an age-old tradition, Vari da bagh is a kind of handcrafted bag which is tied around the waist of a newly wed daughter-in-law as she is handed the keys of her new home. Usually, it is made on an orange-reddish khaddar fabric with beautiful embroidery and diamond patterns adorning its surface.


A mosaic of fifty-two different patterns, Bawan Bagh is the most beautiful of all phulkaries and the rarest of all the baghs. More often than not, it was designed to showcase the skills of the professional craftsmen and impress their potential clients.


Chope was traditionally designed in shades of gold to express desire and wealth. These patterns consist of big triangles symmetrically distributed along the length of the fabric. Historically, chope was a display of a bride's maternal grandmother's affection for her new-born grand-daughter.

The phulkari has evolved over time. More recently, we saw this traditional art making a grand come-back in the designs of Manish Malhotra showcased during Wills India Lifestyle Fashion Week 2013.


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