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The Colorful And Oh-So-Pretty Phulkaris

Phulkaris are very colorful shawls, odinis and dupattas that are made for everyday use. If you are looking to purchase fabrics for special occasions, then you will need to purchase something called baghs. Phulkaris consist of flower patterns on cloth and the embroidery is local to the region of Punjab and Haryana. The word Phulkari is derived from the word phul that translates to flower and kari that translates to craft. Phulkaris are created with floss silk thread on coarse cotton fabric that is hand woven.

Native Art Of Phulkaris

phulkari photo
reaching out by jasleen_kaur under CC BY-SA 2.0

Phulkaris are usually worn during joyous occasions. They are usually made by housewives or even working women for their own use or for their family members. Women do not usually make this to sell in the market. This domestic art helps satisfy the inner creative urge in women and it also adds color to their life. Some people even call the art of Phulkaris as folk art. A number of people in Punjab and Haryana gift baghs and Phulkaris to newly married brides or even as gifts on the occasion of marriage. These Phulkari designs are native to the districts of Hazara, Sialkot, Peshawar, Jhelum, Multan, Rawalpindi, Amritsar, Ambala, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Jind, Nabha, Faridkot, Chakwal and Kapurthala located in the region of Punjab.

A number of people believe that the art of Phulkaris came to India from the Jat tribes of Central Asia that migrated to Haryana, Punjab and Gujarat. The reference to Phulkaris can be seen in the Mahabharata, the Vedas, folk songs of Punjab and Guru Granth Sahib. The art form of Phulkaris has been in existence since the 15th century.

Types of Phulkari

There are different kinds of phulkaris that you can buy. Here are some of the popular options:

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Chope & Subhar

These are two types of phulkaris that are worn by brides on their wedding day. They have a lot of work on them and all the corners of the phulkari are embroidered with a fine style of embroidery. The Subhar phulkari is one that has four motifs on each of the corners of the phulkari and one central motif.

phulkari photo
Phulkari by rverc under CC BY 2.0

Til Patra

The Til Patra phulkari derives its name from the til or the sesame seed. It has delicate embroidery spread all through the phulkari that resembles a sprinkling of til seeds on it. The name itself translates to the sprinkle of til seeds.


The Neelak is a rich phulkari that is loaded with metals and comes in a royal red and yellow embroidery that’s made on a black or bright red background.  This is usually worn for functions.

Ghunghat bagh

The Ghunghat bagh phulkari has a lot of embroidery in the center of the piece. This phulkari is usually used to cover the heads of women when they step out. The corners also have intricate details embroidered so women can use it as a face veil.

There are a number of other designs that are also popular across the country. Each one has its own story and has something unique about it that impresses women not only in India but all across the world to own one of them.

Featured Photo: Phulkaris The Philadelphia Museum of Art by rverc under CC BY 2.0

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