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Handicrafts

Punjab has a rich tradition of its colourful handicrafts and richly embroidered hand woven textiles. Silk, woolen and cotton fabrics are used for the purpose.

Certain families in Punjab have been dedicated to the development of folk art. The carpenters while making doors, cots etc have been enriching them with various designs in wood carving. Goldsmiths have been making ornaments in almost a hundred different designs. The common fountain of inspiration has always been their innate urge-for artistic creativity. Punjabi women are very fond of jewellery. The designs of jewellery and the motifs carved on them have undergone many changes. Before the coming of the Muslims images of the sun, the moon and various gods and goddesses were engraved on gold and silver ornaments. The Muslims replaced gods and goddesses with floral motifs. The folk art of the Punjab is essentially a synthesis of all the traditions which the various incursions and racial elements brought with them.

Phulkari work is one of the most fascinating expressions of the Punjabi folk art. Women have developed this art at the cost of some of their very precious moments of leisure. They have always been very fond of colour and have devoted  a lot of their time to colourful embroidery and knitting. It has also been customary for parents and relatives to give hand-embroidered clothes to girls in dowry. Punjabi women were known for embroidery with superb imagination.

 Phulkari is something of which Punjab is justly proud and is also noted as the home of this embroidered and durable product. This is a kind of women's dress used a special cover to be worn over the shirt which women traditionally don. It actually formed part of the brides trousseau and was associated with various ceremonies preliminary to the wedding during which it used to be embroidered. The cloth used for making this, is generally in red or maroon colour and the thread employed in the close embroidery is made of silk in gold, yellow, crimson red, blue and green colours.

The word Phulkari (embroidered flowers) is normally used for all types of embroidery but  the real Phulkari work is not that in which the motifs are properly spread. In the Phulkari work, the whole cloth is covered with close embroidery and almost no space is left uncovered. The piece of cloth thus embroidered is called baag meaning a garden. If only the sides are covered it is called chope. The back ground is generally maroon or scarlet and the silken thread used is mostly golden. Colour schemes show a rich sensitiveness. Some Phulkaris are embroidered with various motifs of birds, animals, flowers and sometimes scenes of village life.

There is another noteworthy form of folk art  in the Punjab which originated in various rites and religious performances; drawing the image or some symbolic figure of a deity on the walls or the door of a house. Some people draw images of gods on their front door to protect themselves from the influence of evil spirits. Women are adept in making images of gods and goddesses of mud or dung when a special worship in connection with a fast or a festival takes place. When the festival of  Sanjhidevi is celebrated on the first Naurata, one of the walls of the house is smeared with dung and then the figure of Sanjhi Mai is drawn on it. She is adorned with ornaments. In the background one one side the rising moon is shown and on the other the setting sun. Thereafter she is worshipped for nine days.

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