Indian Bridal Embroidery: Phulkari

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Phulkari is a folk art that originated in Punjab in the nineteenth century and it literally means floral embroidery. Phulkari embroidery makes use of darn stitch with brightly coloured unspun silk thread. The technique of this art was not documented anywhere but it was passed from one generation to the other. Women created Phulkari for their personal use during their free time and even today, Phulkari is a part of the bridal trousseau in Punjabi families. Here are some beautiful designs:

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During olden days, different phulkaris were made for different occasions like wedding, childbirth and many other festivities. Phulkari is not only considered auspicious for the bride but also for a newborn child. As a matter of fact, this art-form is considered so auspicious that the canopy above Sri Guru Granth Sahib may also be made from Phulkari.

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Phulkari is generally made on shawls and dupattas. If the pattern covers the base cloth completely, then it’s called a bagh which means a garden. Generally the border has exclusive patterns as compared to the rest of the fabric.

Chope is gifted to a Punjabi bride by her grandmother just before her wedding. It’s embroidered on a bright red cloth which has beautiful phulkari embroidered on it. The red cloth in a chope is not completely covered as the red colour signifies good luck and fortune for the bride and her groom.

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Vari-da-bagh is gifted to her by her mother in law as a mark of welcome to her new house just after after the wedding. Vari-da-bagh is heavily embroidered on a red cloth with bright yellow and orange colours along with other colours. The embroidery is so heavy that the base cloth not visible at all. The bright colours of the bagh symbolize fertility and happiness. Here are some more Bagh designs:

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According to another Punjabi wedding custom, a bride arrives at the wedding venue (mandap) walking below a Phulkari or Bagh which is held above her head by her brothers.

These days, Phulkari is also being used for home furnishings, wall hangings and theme weddings.

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Although Phulkari has been mainly a part of the Sikh weddings in Punjab but other states have also started incorporating it as a part of their weddings. 

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