Clive Farahar Antiquarian Books - Rare and Antiquarian Books and Manuscripts

INDIAN PHULKARI. A Fine Golden Silk Emboidered Phulkarian or Bagh Shawl,  Geometric Design with a coloured border on one side with triangles of white, purple and crimson, on the other with the occasional lozenge of the same purple, white and crimson, covering the cotton completely,  c1880
96 x 48 ins. on plain reddish brown cotton ground or khadder of three 16 inch strips sewn together, very little wear, and virtually unfaded,
Phulkari were traditionally made all over the Punjab. Made and used by Hindu embroiderers both in the eastern and western Punjab. The eastern tend to incorporate figurative design with people animals and household instruments, while they confine themselves to non-figurative geometric patterns. These more elaborate Phulkari are known as Bagh's and evolved as ceremonial items or heirlooms, used for family celebrations. The flashes of coloured designs on the border were to highlight the face of the wearer. The making of the bagh required so much talent and patience taking as much as a year to complete, that they had places of honour on ceremonial occasions. The remarkable feature of the Phulkari is that it is worked from the reverse of the fabric, and the embroiderer does not need to see the front whilst creating the pattern. This is created by counting the threads on the reverse of the ground fabric before taking up a single thread with the needle, leaving a long 'float'. The silk came from Kashmir, Afghanistan and Bengal, but the best came from China. Originally they were made solely for personal use, and they were not seen commercially until after the Punjab Exhibition in London in 1881. Flora Anne Steel writing in 1888 complained about the decline of this craft with the use of aniline dyes and poor quality of silk. In the Journal of Indian Art she noted "the Art in its most original form is found today among the small farmers of Rohtak, Hissar and Gurgaon". The dense, tight style was later lost, and looser and coarser styles of embroidery were employed and western decoration used.

Stock ref: 13236