What does the Punjabi word thola mean

Phulkari and Bhag embroidery from the Punjab


1 Phulkari and Bhag embroidery from Punjab Michael Beste First edition 1994 Second edition 1997 CD-ROM 2005 All rights by: Michael Beste Kapuzinerstrasse 4 D Baden-Baden Tel

2 2 ORIGIN, HISTORY AND AGE The tradition of embroidery in India can be traced back to the Indus civilization, perhaps even further. References to this can be found in various articles 1. Figures and paintings, including from Ajanta and the Kushan period (1-3th century AD), testify to this. However, as far as we know today, no piece has survived that can be dated earlier than the late 15th century. The tradition of embroidery goes back a long way in Punjab. Guru Nanak (), the founder of the Sikh religion, wrote in one of the holy books at the end of the 15th century: You are only a full woman when you have embroidered your own blouse. The oldest Punjab embroidery still in existence today also dates from this period. It is a small square cloth (rumal), embroidered in the Chamba style, which was embroidered around 1500 by Debe Nanaki, the sister of Guru Nanak, and a shawl (shamla), dated to Both textiles are today in Sikh shrines in Punjab (Gurdaspur or Jalandhur) kept. In any case, from these scant indications one can conclude that embroidery was already a widespread and highly developed skill of women in Punjab at this time. Punjab women still embroider - bedspreads, pillowcases, tablecloths, etc., but the heyday of this art is long gone. Attempts to revive the tradition in Patiala and Chandigarh in eastern Punjab with government assistance have met with little success. Phulkari means "flower work" in Punjabi (phul: flower, kari: work) and originally simply stood for embroidery. Over time, the term narrowed and was only used for an embroidered headscarf or scarf, about 140 x 230 cm in size, also called Odhini. Together with a tight blouse (choli) and a long skirt (gaghra), this formed the traditional costume of the Punjabi women. According to IRWIN and HALL, phulkaris were also used as wall hangings and blankets. This applies mainly to the pieces from the Eastern Punjab embroidered with depictions of everyday life. The simple and not so densely embroidered odhinis, intended for everyday use, are called phulkaris. Heavily embroidered items intended for specific occasions and ceremonies are called bagh (hindi / farsi: garden). You can also put it this way: in the phulkari the embroidery only partially decorates the shawl, while in the bagh the whole shawl is so densely embroidered that the basic fabric is no longer visible. However, one also knows phulkaris that are embroidered so densely that the ground is completely covered. The embroidery was mainly in the Punjab, and to a lesser extent in the north-western border provinces. The Hindukush forms a natural border with Afghanistan in the northeast of this region, in the east it is defined by the foothills of the Himalayas and the Ganges plain. Politically, this area was owned by the British at the turn of the century. It was surrounded in the north, south and south-east by the Indian princely states of Kashmir, Rajputana and Baluchistan. 2 Here you can find both fertile plains - Punjab is called five-rivers - as well as wild and inaccessible mountain regions. Strategically, we have North India's most important connection to the West before us. For millennia, the Punjab has been a thread and 1 IRWIN / HALL 1973: 1: In Mohenjo-daro, bronze needles were found that can be imagined to have been used for embroidery. Some figures from this area and from Harappa were shown wearing a robe that was apparently embroidered. An example of this is the bust of a bearded mohenjodaro man wearing a shawl with a shamrock pattern (National Museum, New Delhi) 2 See map in the appendix.

3 2 Settlement area for immigrants, nomads and conquerors. This region was the bottleneck between Iran and Central Asia on the one hand and the Indian subcontinent on the other. It is obvious that apart from all struggles and disputes, there was also mutual cultural stimulation and fertilization. Phulkaris and Bhags were mainly found in the places Peshawar, Hazara, Rawalpindi, Sialkot, Multan and Jhelum in western Punjab (today Pakistan); in eastern Punjab, now part of India, in Amritsar, Jullundur, Ludhiana, Ferozpur and Patiala. They were also popular in parts of Haryana (Ambala, Rohtak and Hissar). It is said, however, that the best pieces come from Hazara and Chakwal in northwestern Punjab. 3 There is still no clarity about the actual origin of this textile art. The theory supported by most authors is based on the character of this region as a transit area to the subcontinent. It is assumed that cattle-breeding nomads from the neighboring northwest or from Central Asia, the Jats, brought this tradition with them. This group now lives in the Indian state of Haryana - which emerged from the southeastern part of the former Punjab - and in parts of Uttar Pradesh. There is evidence that the Jats are descendants of the Scythians. But since they themselves have never put their past down in writing, their true origin is in the dark. It is documented that they have lived in northern India for a very long time. Until the 13th century they formed a closed ethnic group with a uniform religion and language; later some of the people changed to Islam, others to the Sikh religion. The majority, however, remained Hindus. The current settlement area of ​​the Jat, which includes the districts of Hissar, Sirsa and Rohtak in Haryana, is considered by some authors to be the actual nucleus of the phulkari tradition. Anand K. COOMRASWAMY wrote in 1964: "The original art comes from the peasant Hindus (Jats) from Rohtak, Gurgaon and Delhi, while in Hazara a more elaborate and elaborate form can be found." In 1888 Mrs. Flora STEEL remarked: "The art in its most original form can still be found today among the small farmers of Rohtak, Hissar and Gurgaon. One can say here, where the spread of the Jats, which are not from Islam or from the Sikhs were influenced is greatest, so is their origin. ". These considerations are only of historical interest, since the embroidery of phulkaris and bhags in its heyday - the 19th century - was no longer exclusively practiced by the peasant jat, but has now become one of the most important forms of expression for all women in Punjab, regardless of class , Religion and origin. Until 1948, Punjab was understood to mean the north-western part of the Indian Empire with Lahore as the capital. Today the western part belongs to Pakistan, again with Lahore as the provincial capital. The Eastern Punjab with the capital Chandigarh belongs to the Indian Union, this part was divided again into Punjab and Haryana. The mountainous region, formerly called "Punjab hills", became the state of Himachal Pradesh. Although the old Punjab was populated by Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims before the division, mostly only the first two groups produced the embroidery. Initially, women worked almost exclusively for personal use, not for sales. Young girls made their trousseau in this way; Mothers and grandmothers worked for their daughters and granddaughters. However, as early as 1832 Maharaja Ranjit Singh signed the first export contract for phulkaris. Greater demand arose towards the end of the 19th century - a key date is the great Punjabausstellung in London. Around the same time, a great drought and famine in Punjab forced families to sell their old pieces. From this point on, bhags, phulkaris and items that were embroidered in this style (including bags, curtains, coats and piano blankets) found an ever larger market in America and Europe; At the same time, inspired by the buyer, new patterns and color combinations were created. Types such as the Manchester Bagh or the Jubilee Bhag emerged. In order to be able to produce faster and cheaper, a coarser and looser 3 See map in the appendix was developed.

4 3 embroidery style. All of the factors mentioned were responsible for the rapid decline of the old handicraft tradition. Mrs. F.A. As early as 1888, STEEL complained in an article in the Journal of Indian Art about the decline in craftsmanship, the use of aniline dyes and the poor quality of silk, as well as the use of foreign patterns to better suit the tastes of foreign buyers. Embroidery was also used for social gatherings. The women of the neighborhood met in the idle hours of the afternoon to spin yarn, to embroider, to sing and of course to discuss news. Often the beginning of a work was initiated with certain ceremonies. For example, after the birth of a boy, a Vari da Bagh was started. The astrologer determined the most favorable day for this. While sweets and red thread were distributed among those present and they danced, sang and prayed, the grandmother took the first stitch. The work was continued by the mother, by other female relatives and sometimes by the grandmother herself. This Bhag was intended to be given to the bride on the day of the boy's wedding. Since it was the custom at weddings of wealthy families to give away phulkaris and bhags among the female relatives and sometimes among the servants, commissioned works were also given to women from poorer families. Your payment was based on the amount of yarn used. The question of the dating of the embroidery is interesting. It is impossible to say with certainty when the first phulkari was embroidered. There is no piece that can be safely said to be more than 170 years old. Even 100 year old phulkaris are very rare. Of course, the textiles are subject to natural wear and tear; It is also true that the material is not very stable in the Indian climate with the extremely humid monsoon months, but other clues should be found if the tradition is older. Some authors mention that in the ballads of Heer-Ranjha and Sohni-Mahiwal from the 18th century there is a very detailed account of the jewelry and clothes of women; but a phulkari is not described. 4 As already mentioned, it was customary to give phulkari gifts at the wedding. The richer the family, the greater the number of gifts. In the family chronicles it has been carefully recorded over generations which gifts were given by which relatives. There are also records of the dowry given or received. However, there are no references to the embroidery in any of the earlier chronicles. From the majority of the sources one can therefore draw with some certainty that the first phulkaris can only be documented from the early 19th century, quickly gained popularity and soon afterwards found their perfection in the complicated form of the Bhag. At the beginning of the 20th century the high point had already been passed, the division of the Punjab after India's declaration of independence meant the final end for this textile art. The approximate age of a piece can be inferred from the condition of the base fabric, the colors used, etc. with older pieces it was e.g. It is still common practice - especially with white, green and pink - to use cotton threads instead of the silk that is otherwise used. The best of the pieces still commercially available today are likely to have been made between 1870 and 1920. The museums of Ahmedabad, Delhi, Lahore and London have many Bhags and Phulkaris in their magazines. A comparative examination of these pieces, of which for the most part at least the date of purchase is known, could make it easier to date other pieces. 4 Neelam GREWAL, however, states that in the army Ranjha Phulkaris would be mentioned in the trousseau of the heroine.

5 4 MATERIAL AND TECHNOLOGY The women mostly embroidered on coarse, self-dyed cotton cloth (khaddar). The yarn used for this was spun at home and processed in the village by the jullaha (village weaver). 5 One reason for this was the low price and durability of the material. In addition, the nature of the fabric made it possible to count the threads 6 precisely, and there was no need to use an embroidery frame for tightening, since the material did not pucker. An Indian author puts it more poetically. 7 He thinks the coarse material of the base fabric stands for the hard, deprived life of a Punjabi woman, but the rich embroidery made of soft and colorful silk represents her dreams and hopes. For a bagh, khaddar of better quality was woven, called chaunsa khaddar (ca warp threads / cm); here the warp and weft have exactly the same thickness. This material is softer and more pliable. Sometimes an even finer fabric was used, halwan (approx. Warp threads / cm), which was only made in Amritsar or Lahore. Working on it, however, required a lot more time, as counting the thin threads required more concentration and was far more straining on the eyes. Therefore, women only used it for particularly precious pieces. Halwan is more often found in pieces from the western Punjab, especially from Hazara and Rawalpindi. For technical reasons, the fabric was woven in narrow, cm wide strips. So two to three and a half panels had to be sewn together to get the desired width. Most of the time the base fabric was red, because this color is still considered auspicious by Hindus and Sikhs. But you can also find brown, different shades of blue, black and white. Green is very rare. HITKARI reports on such a piece in the Calico Textile Museum in Ahmedabad. White backing was mostly used by Hindu women from northern Pakistan; they used dark red silk for embroidery. The darker tones were particularly valued for everyday items, as they didn't look dirty even after prolonged use. For embroidery, the women used soft, untwisted thread made of foil silk, called pat, which was made from the outer threads of the silk cocoon. Since the yarn is soft and fluffy, it had to be handled carefully. When a section was finished, they rolled it up and wrapped it in a clean white cloth to keep it from getting dirty; then they continued working on the unembroidered part. Before a bagh was folded, the embroidered side was covered with a thin cotton cloth so that the fluffy foil silk would not get caught. The silk came in skeins from Kashmir, Afghanistan and Bengal, the best quality from China. It was mostly colored in Amritsar, Jammu or Dera Ghazi Khan. The women in the villages bought the ropes from hawkers who traveled across the country. The most common colors of the yarns were golden yellow, red, pink, orange, blue, purple, green, dark brown and white. For white, black and yellow, the women also used cotton thread (bandi) in certain pieces. 8 Woolen threads were used very rarely. A bagh required approx. 25 tola pat, a phulkari approx. 15 tola (1 tola corresponds to 11.6 grams). The embroiderers mostly only used thread of the same color. Within a motif or pattern there is almost never any color gradation due to the use of different tints of one color. However, since the embroidery was carried out in different directions (vertical, horizontal and diagonal), the silk reflects at different angles and thus gives the impression of 5 Khaddar is woven from loosely spun yarn of irregular thickness, warp and weft threads can have different thicknesses. There are warp threads to the centimeter. 6 See the description of the embroidery techniques below. 7 Neelam GREWAL: The Needle Lore 8 e.g. in some "Darshan Dwars" and "Sainchis".

6 5 shades of color emerge. 9 Every now and then you will find a bagh with different shades of the same color, because sometimes a woman bought too few patients out of carelessness or for financial reasons. If this lot was then used up, it was often no longer possible to get exactly the same color. The coarse cloth was embroidered from the back with an approximately 7 cm long needle with a long eye. The pattern was not sketched out. The needles came from Germany, China and Japan. The main stitch used was the darn stitch (darn stitch, also called tension or satin stitch by some translators.) The almost exclusive use of the long and short darn stitch over counted threads distinguishes the phulkari or bagh from all other known textiles or garments with embroidery decoration. Usually the darning stitch is half a centimeter long, it moves in straight lines and does not make curves; The skillful use in different directions creates countless geometric motifs. The pattern is controlled mainly by counting the threads, while in the western punjab sometimes the pattern was "sketched out" on the cloth with green thread in the form of parallel lines or squares using the Holbein stitch (equilateral line stitch). A woman's ability was measured by how many patterns she mastered. Since she only saw the fabric from behind while she was working, a single counting error was enough to destroy the pattern or the symmetry. But other stitches were also used.The chain stitch was used to represent the outlines of figures. In addition to the darning stitch, the satin stitch was also used to fill the motifs. There is also the stem stitch, the herring-bone stitch, the running stitch and - for hemming - the buttonhole stitch. The chope, a bagh that the bride received from her grandmother, was made with straight two sided line stitch, which looks the same on both sides of the fabric. The stitches must be regular and smooth. This can be seen particularly well on the back of a bagh (Fig. P. 21). In a good piece you only see faint lines of very small dots at regular intervals. It took a woman years to perfect herself in this technique. There were no sample books or templates from which the designs could be copied. Different formulas for different patterns have been passed down orally through the generations; learned from grandmother, mother and other female relatives. Each family had its own distinctive style. With increasing practice and experience, the woman could later design her own patterns. Embroidery was then no longer just manual work for her. Through the stitches, colors and motifs she used, she was also able to express her feelings, hopes and dreams. NAMES, MOTIVES AND TYPES Due to the peculiarity of the darning stitch used - only horizontal, vertical or diagonal straight lines are possible - the motifs had to be very stylized. Often only geometric patterns were used in the Bhags (triangles, squares, diamonds). The models for other motifs came from everyday life. Accordingly, the pieces were given names such as Gobhi Bagh and Mirchi Bagh after the corresponding vegetables cauliflower and spinach. Shalimar and Chaurasia Bagh are reminiscent of the layout of famous Mughal gardens. The Ikka Bagh is inspired by playing cards (Karo Aß), in the Cowrie Bagh zigzag-shaped white rhombuses are reminiscent of cowrie snails. There is also the above-mentioned Dhoop Chhaon (sunlight and shadow), the Lahriya (waves, see p. 24), Patedar (stripes), Chand (moon), Patang (dragon), Saru (cypress), Panchranga ( five colors) and the Satranga (seven colors). The Dariya Bagh (river) has a series of blue zigzag stripes on a white background, Nakhooni is reminiscent of nails, Bhulbhlay 9 There is a certain Bhag, the "Dhoop / Chhaon", read: Duup, (freely: light and shadow), which has this effect uses consciously.

7 6 to a maze. A pure white, very densely embroidered Bagh was called Sheesha (pronounced: Shisha) Bagh (mirror). In the fertile and water-rich Punjab, of course, many flowers also served as namesake, e.g. Suraj Mukkhi (sunflower), Genda (marigold) and Motia (jasmine). Til Patra (scattered sesame), a phulkari sparsely embroidered on a very coarse cloth, was given away to house servants on special occasions. One of the most common motifs on simple phulkaris for everyday use is a stalk of wheat or barley with an ear of wheat. Compound motifs often have very poetic names, e.g. Lahriya Patang, loosely translated as "kite in the wind". In addition, there are some very special types of phulkaris and bhags. Da is the Vari da Bagh from western Punjab (Fig. Pp. 18 and 19). As mentioned above, it is started by the grandmother after the boy's birth and presented to the bride on the day of his wedding. Vari are the dresses and jewelry that the bride receives from the groom's family. This type is worked in golden yellow thread on a red background, the colors symbolize luck and fertility. The whole area is covered with rhombuses, each rhombus contains a smaller one. In particularly good pieces there are three sizes of rhombus nested inside one another; the smallest is again divided into four squares. On the side rims and pallaw (end rims) there are different patterns in several colors. It took more than a year to make such a bagh. Nowadays these pieces are considered family heritage and are briefly flipped over as a holdover from an ancient tradition of the bride at the wedding. The Bawan Bagh is unique and very rare (Fig. P. 27). Few women could manufacture this type. Bawan is the number 52 in Punjabi; in this piece we therefore find 52 different patterns that are otherwise used in different Bhags. The middle field is divided into 42 or 48 rectangles; each field contains a different, multi-colored motif. The remaining 4 or 10 patterns can be found in the side and end ribs. Pieces that exceed or fall below the number 52, which is usually the case, are still called Bawan Bagh. Even rarer is the Bawan Phulkari (fig. P. 26), a type on which, similar to the Bawan Bagh, all sorts of different phulkari motifs appear.Another typical Bagh, this time from Eastern Punjab, is the Darshan Dwar Bagh ( literally: the gate from which one can take a look at the deity, fig. p. 17). This type is always embroidered on a red background and depicts an architectural structure. On the right and left you can find the images of large goals with spikes, depending on their size and the dimensions of the cloth, there are four to seven on each side. The gates are opposite each other and open inwards, in between runs a central strip with figures, animals, flowers and plants or even a train. Sometimes there are human figures in the gates. When looking at it, one can get the feeling of walking through a busy village street and seeing people on the right and left in their house entrances. The roofs of the gates are multicolored in patterns of triangles and rhombuses. Often smaller gates are embroidered in the triangular space between the side border and the roofs of the gates, but in which there are no figures. Sometimes the pattern reaches such a high degree of abstraction that the underlying motif can only be guessed at. The gate motif of this bagh was probably influenced by the covered veranda that surrounded the temple and on which one could walk around the sanctuary (parikrama). These baghs were donated to the temple after a wish was fulfilled. The chope (fig. P. 29) was embroidered in such a way that the pattern is visible on both the front and the back (Holbein stitch). Yellow-orange on a red cloth was used. This Bagh 10 is larger than all other types (approx. 300cm x 175cm), because the bride at the wedding ceremony of her grandmother in it like in a chhadar (veil of the Muslims, 10 With the same right one could also say Phulkari, since this type Features of both types combined: I use Bhag because this textile is not for everyday use, but has a ritual function.

8 7 which covers the whole body) was enveloped. The chope is started by the grandmother after the birth of a girl, so it can be compared to the Vari da Bhag. The pattern of the chope is developed symmetrically from the two long sides. You can see large triangles that have their base on the hem. The space between each two triangles is filled by an equally large but upside-down triangle. If you look closely, you can see that the triangles are often made up of very abstract peacocks with small heads and very large tails. The end rims are not embroidered, which results in a continuous red stripe on the textile - a symbol of endless happiness that you wish the bride. It is less common to find a small figure, a peacock or a cow depicted. These stand for protection, happiness and prosperity. The Chand Bhag (fig. P. 22) is supposed to remind of the play of the moonlight. Small white or beige diamonds, which symbolize the moon, are set on a dark red background. On some phulcaris the shape of a bird is so often embroidered over the whole field at regular intervals that it fills the whole area. These phulcaris are named after the name of the bird that is depicted, mostly peacock (mor) or parrot (tota, fig. P. 21). A type that has become very rare is the Thirma (fig. Pp. 27 to 29). This name denotes phulkaris or bhags on a white background. They were only made by Hindus and were an important part of a Hindu woman's trousseau from northwestern Punjab. Red, purple and green were used for embroidery. The patterns are of floral origin. Sometimes the entire textile was embroidered so densely that a velvety surface emerged. The finals (pallus) of this type are characteristic: the women set diagonal rows in satin stitch in red. This work was typical of Peshawar, Hazara, Bannu and Rawalpindi, all in northwestern Punjab at the time. The patterns of this type are very different from all other bhags and phulkaris; Interestingly, they often resemble textiles from Afghanistan and Central Asia. If you want, you can use this as a further indication of the origin of the embroidery. Pieces of this type still available today mostly date from the last decades of the 19th century. Most valuable and sought-after today are the Sainchi Phulkaris, mostly produced in Bhatinda and neighboring areas of eastern and southeastern Punjab (Fig. Pp. 14 to 17). They show scenes from everyday life in Punjab at the turn of the century. The motifs were often sketched out on the fabric with black ink. These designs were more or less naturalistic or completely stylized, depending on the embroiderer's taste and ability. The preliminary drawing was then filled in with a darning stitch. Interestingly, the women almost never depicted any legends or myths; in contrast to the Chamba rumals from neighboring Himachal Pradesh, there are no religious motifs, no depiction of court themes and no hunting scenes. Nor are any representations from classical Indian literature to be found. The Sainchis known today can be roughly divided into two categories: A) Colored representations of figures, animals, scenes from village life, etc. on a red background. There is no symmetry whatsoever and there are no end edges. The motifs were often sketched out. Such pieces resemble a sketchy painting, a chronicle of village life (ill. Pp. 16 and 18). B) Sainchis on a black, dark brown or - very rarely - on a blue background (ill. Pp. 14, 15, 17). There is a certain symmetry here. We often see five lotus flowers: one large, multi-petaled one in the center 11 and the other four in the corners. The arrangement of the flowers corresponds to that in the suber phulkari, which is worn by the bride at the time when she walks around the sacred fire (pherey) seven times. The depiction of various traditional pieces of jewelry also indicates that this phulkar type played a role in the wedding ceremonies. Abstract peacocks often appear in the end rims, which also contribute to the symmetry. In between, however, there are all sorts of animals and objects, apparently distributed without a plan. Both types have in common that wool or cotton threads were often used instead of silk. 11 In India this mostly stands for the many manifestations of creation.

9 8 Although all these pieces are called Sainchi Phulkari in India today, each of them may have its own type. It should not be forgotten that the last textiles of this type were made around 1920. In the upheavals and changes that followed, many traditions and a great deal of knowledge have surely been forgotten. On the sainchis we find scenes of everyday life, items of personal possessions such as jewelry and combs, domestic animals, ox carts and household items. You can see people playing dice, at the spinning wheel, cooking, working in the fields or doing other things in everyday life. Often times a railroad appears. The locomotive emits thick smoke and the passengers look out the window. Sometimes the circus comes to the village with animals and acrobats. That is also shown. Scenes with women arguing, a yogi who comes to beg, a man who beats up his wife or a British official who visits the village are particularly realistic. Jewelery is often shown. The embroidery is always in yellow, which stands for gold. Sometimes the treasures are guarded by mythical snakes, the earth spirits. Most of the time you can find the jewelry on the spot on the scarf that touches the forehead when worn over the head. The Sar Pallu (ill. Pp. 23 and 24) from eastern Punjab has wide borders on both long sides, which are often very bold and colorful, composed of rhombuses and triangles and sometimes resemble wild and abstract fantasy landscapes. The middle band, which remains free, is decorated with small flowers, birds or other animals. Usually there are also some peacocks and pieces of jewelry towards the ends. The last type is the Sheeshedar Phulkari (pronounced: Shishedar). It is decorated with small round, matt mirrors. These come from Karnal, where you blow glass balls about 10cm in diameter, silver-coat them on the inside and then break them. The fragments are then used for embroidery. HITKARI reports on a unique Phulkari in his possession from the Eastern Punjab, on which many small silver plates are stuck next to the embroidery. Motifs and patterns changed from place to place. There were probably as many variants as there were Stikkerinnen. Every list must inevitably remain fragmentary. POSSIBILITIES OF DISTINCTION The first thing that catches the eye of the distinction between Bhag and Phulkari is the amount of embroidery. In the Phulkari the motifs are distributed more or less regularly over the entire cloth. In between, however, large areas of the base material are visible. Usually the end pieces show a completely different pattern than the middle piece; often these are even more elaborately and richly embroidered. The motifs of a Bhag, on the other hand, are embroidered so close to each other that the basic color of the fabric - if it is visible at all - only forms a thin boundary line around the motif. The finals of the Bhag (pallaw) almost always take up the motif of the main field. There are a few features to distinguish pieces from western Punjab from those from the east of the country. Usually the cloth was finer in the west. Better quality silk was also used. Black or blue were rarely used as the basic color. In the east, however, no white was used. The middle field was mostly only embroidered with one or two colors in the west, while the number of color combinations was much greater in the east. In addition, the women here had a larger repertoire of stitches. On the other hand, the work in the west was usually finer. In the western punjab the motifs and patterns were limited to abstract representations, while in the east they were more diverse and also included human figures, animals, birds, etc. Perhaps this has to do with the diminishing influence of the Muslims towards the east, who are not allowed to portray people. In contrast to the west, cotton and sometimes wool were also used as embroidery thread in the east.

10 9 The pallaw (end border) is usually narrower and simpler on pieces from the west. After all, in the West, the various lengths of fabric were first embroidered and then sewn together, while women in Eastern Punjab did exactly the opposite. Therefore, there are often cracks in the pattern of Bhags from the western punjab. With the phulkaris from Haryana, the southeast of ancient Punjab, the main field is often divided into regular squares, in which the same motif is repeated. The monotony is broken, however, by the fact that other motifs, e.g. Animals or trinkets appear. Of course there are exceptions to these rules, but they can serve as a guide. IRREGULAR PATTERNS Like people around the world, the Punjabis are superstitious and fear the wrath of the gods. To ward off the evil eye, a black spot is painted on the cheek of the newborn, the bride is tied a black pompom to the red ivory arm rings and a black pot is hung in front of the new house. For the same reason, the women, who were perfectly embroidered, added small flaws to their pieces, suddenly used a different color or left a small area unembroidered. Sometimes you can also find a stylized peacock, a human figure, a small diamond or a sewn-on glass bead in a corner. Some women simply left a few inches of thread to indicate that the piece wasn't finished. All of this was done in order not to attract the envy of the higher forces. These deliberate irregularities are called Nazar Butti. Because the Sikhs were more "enlightened" and generally less superstitious, these features are mostly found on pieces made by Hindus. Sometimes you can see a name in a corner or another hidden place, usually in Gurmukkhi script. This is either the name of the embroiderer or that of the owner. Every now and then one finds the embroidered syllables Om () or Ek-Onkar (). These holy mantras of the Hindus or Sikhs are intended to direct God's blessing towards the success of the work or towards the wearer of the piece. USE The original purpose of embroidery was probably to embellish the rough and simple surface of the Odhinis (headscarves, veils). Gradually, people began to associate some of the patterns and motifs with specific events and ceremonies.In addition to protecting against the weather and hiding the face, textiles also gained a religious and magical significance. In a tradition-conscious Punjab family, no important ceremony was started without the female head of the family putting on a particular phulkari. Many, if not most, of the pieces are related to specific sections of wedding celebrations and married life. This fact and also the rich and rampant, mostly floral motifs of the phulkaris indicate an associative connection with fertility and the continuation of the family. For example, in the ceremonial bath before the wedding (nahai dhoi), when filling the clay jugs (gharoli bharna) and when the bridegroom mounts the decorated horse (ghori charana), a different phulkari was always used. When the bride got the 22 red ivory bracelets from her mother's brother (chura charana), a chope was placed around her. During the actual wedding ceremony, she wore a subhar.

11 10 The occasion on which the bride was presented with the vari da bhag has already been described above. She wore it once a year when she prayed for her husband's long life (karva chanth). The bride's family presented the groom's relatives with bhags and phulkaris, and they also formed part of the trousseau. When the mother first left her room on the 11th day after the birth of a boy, she wore a phulkari. At the same time, less richly embroidered pieces, the above-mentioned til patra, were distributed to the servants of the house. In addition to such larger and rarer holidays, the annual course of an Indian family is very rich in holidays. The women of the Punjab always wore a phulkari on such occasions. If the wife died before her husband, she was wrapped in embroidery. Honored guests of a house found a Phulkari brought out just for this occasion as a pad on their seat or as a tablecloth. In the temples and gurudwaras 12 the walls, figures or holy scriptures were decorated with phulkaris or bhags - mostly it was a darshan dwar. Foundations and gifts to the temple were also wrapped up in it. Sometimes British officials were given a bhag at Christmas, along with fruit and sweets. Recently, bhags and richly embroidered phulkaris have been cut up in cities for use in more modern and fashionable clothing. With the exception of a few remote villages where baghs or phulkaris may still be worked, this type of handicraft can now be considered extinct. Attempts by the Indian or Pakistani government to revive them failed. If you consider that a skilled embroiderer needed around 500 hours to make a bagh (3-4 months with a workload of 4-5 hours a day), this becomes understandable. Life has become more complicated for the Punjabis, especially after the division of their homeland between India and Pakistan and the ensuing migration. All energies went into the rebuilding. Instead of meeting in the afternoon to talk and do handicrafts, the women now attend schools and colleges. Cinema, radio and television, synthetic fibers and industrial paints, inexpensive clothing and the influence of western fashion trends did theirs to let their interest in handicrafts wane. S.S. HITKARI closes his book with an optimistic view of the future: "Everything that is born must also perish again - it is not worth shedding tears about it. The innate sensitivity and creativity of women of Punjab will certainly become new forms of expression Folk art never stagnates, it is always evolving. So let us hope that in the course of time something more distinct and even more fascinating than the Phulkari will emerge in the Punjab. Until then, it is up to us to see what is left of us. to save from destruction and to preserve for posterity. " 12 temples of the Sikhs.

12 11 Literature: Bèrinstain, V. "Phulkari", Paris, 1991 Boser, R. "Embroidery Systematics of Stitch Forms". Basel, Coomraswamy, A. "Arts and Crafts of India and Ceylon". New York, Dutta, M.D. "A Catalog on Phulkaritextiles in the Collection of the Indian Museum". Calcutta, Gill, H.S. "A Phulkari from Bhatinda". Patiala, Gillow, J and Barnard, N. "Traditional Indian Textiles". London, Gostelow, M. "The great BLV book of embroidery". Munich, Grewal, Neelam. "The Needle Lore". Delhi, Hitkari, S.S. "Phulkari- Folk Art of Punjab". Delhi, Irwin, J. and Hall, M. "Indian Embroideries". Ahmedabad, Nabholz-Kartaschoff, M.L. "Golden Sprays ans Scarlet Flowers". Kyoto, Steel, F.A. "Phulkari Work in the Punjab". London, 1888.

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