Phulkaris are embroidered shawls that were a part of rural women’s dowery. They were made out of cotton ground and decorated with silk embroidery. The embroidery is done on the reverse and showing as much of the silk on the front. Embroiderers decorate the plain-woven cotton fabric using brilliantly colored floss silk. The long satin stitches reflect the light and contribute to a luxurious effect.
Phulkaris originate in the Punjab region and its vicinity which straddles eastern Pakistan and western India. They were made by both Muslims and Hindus. Muslim phulkaris are mostly abstract or floral in design, while the Hindu ones, like this piece, feature figures and animals. White ground phulkaris were popular in the 19th century, but in the 20th-century embroiderers began also to use dark red-brown or blue ground fabrics that had been dyed with madder or indigo.
This phulkari is made of reddish-brown ground with birds and human figures. The use of birds represents success and beauty, and the figures likely represent ancestral stories or Hindu mythology. The edges of the longer sides are decorated with multi-colored diamond shapes, and the shorter ends have small flowers and a yellow fringe.
Circa: First quarter 20th c
Material: Silk Embroidery on Cotton
Dimensions: 84" x 50"
Inventory number: TX4998