Phulkari with Flowers
This phulkari with abstracted flowers was made in India in the 19th century. The maker used red silk to embroider a pattern of abstract flowers on an off-white cotton base textile. These flowers are bordered by several registers of triangles, arrows, and squares, also in red silk. The maker embellished the flowers with a touch of green silk, which adds a layer of visual complexity to the work.
Phulkari are embroidered shawls that are made out of cotton and silk in Punjab and the greater region of northwest India and parts of Pakistan. Embroiderers decorate plain-woven cotton fabric with abstract geometric, floral, or figurative patterns, using brilliantly colored floss silk. The makers work from the back of the textiles and use a darning stitch so most of the silk shows on the front. These long silk stitches catch the light in a way that makes monochromatic designs appear multi-hued, which imbues the textiles with a certain fantastical quality.
White-ground phulkari were popular in the 19th century, but in the 20th century embroiderers began to also use deep red-brown or blue ground fabrics that had been dyed with madder or indigo. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has a phulkari in their collection that is very similar to the one here.
Circa: 19th c.
Material: Silk on cotton
Condition: Good. Some loose threads and fraying.
Dimensions: 52" x 108"
Inventory number: TX4575