sainchi phulkari (Textile)

About this object

History of use

Once an important part of bride's trousseau. Also used for bedspreads, curtains, dresses, bags, and cushions.

Iconographic meaning

One motif on this phulkari depicts a story from the Mahabharata: a man carried his blind parents everywhere on a shoulder yoke. He was killed by King Dasaratha who mistook the man for a deer while hunting. The parents cursed the king that the king's son, Rama, would die young. Slight imperfections in the patterns are placed throughout the cloth to ward off evil (nazar butti); for example one peacock has a red line on its neck, the bottom right peacock is more elaborate than others and one peacock is not filled in. Deliberate imperfections are a way for the makers to demonstrate that their works are not perfect, and hence divine.

Physical description

A long rectangular cotton cloth (khaddar) of three hand sewn long panels with the sides unfinished along the top and bottom. Side edging in blanket stitch; embroidered with silk threads. Central motif has people carrying lanterns, games, food preparation, dancers and head jewelry. Motifs at each end are almost mirror images. From edge: large with small birds, seventeen small birds, small circles, people in a train, engine and cupolas, and six elephants. Side borders have snakes and birds.