Thursday, May 7, 2009

Phulkari & Bagh

The lively villages of Punjab offer the colorful darn stitches with traditional patterns reflecting their life-style. Embroidery in Punjab, has been the part of the basic education of the girls. The Phulkari, meaning "flower working," has become an integral part of the life and tradition of the people. By the 19th century, the accomplishment of a bride and her mother and the affluence of the family were judged by the number and elaboration of the phulkaris and the baghs that she received as a part of her trousseau.

The phulkari stitch derives its richness from the use of the darning stitch placed in different directions---vertical, horizontal and diagonal.The embroidery is done from the wrong side. The pattern is controlled by the counting of the thread, but quite often the outline of the pattern is embroidered on the cloth in green thread. The needle picks up only one thread at a time, so that the back of the pattern is delineated with single lines of color in extremely fine stitches. In the front the stitch ranges from 1/2 to1/4 cms in size.

In the bagh, a single thread of the base material separates one pattern from the other. Thus an area is divided into twelve squares by this fine line, the squares themselves being covered with stitches going in different directions. As it is done on a thick material the embroider can work without a frame. The stitches used are darning, stem, herringbone, satin, straight, back, running, blanket, split, cross, and chain stich. The Bagh, literally meaning garden, has a variety of patterns inspired by nature. The panchranga and the satranga, five and seven colors respectively are some of the richer variations of this style. The bawan (fifty-two) bagh beats them all, as it has 52 different geometric patterns embroidered in one piece.

Phulkari differs from bagh, as in the former larger portions of the base material are visible, the design being scattered. In the latter, the embroidery covers the surface so as to become the material itself. In another form, the chope, which is presented to the bride by her grandmother-in-law, the embroidery is done in yellow with occasional touches of blue or green only on the borders, the field, always red is left plain. Here there is no right or wrong side, the stitches being even on both sides.

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