Sainchi Phulkari/Nilak Phulkari
Artist/maker unknown, Punjabi
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Figural phulkaris are known as sainchi. The dark indigo khaddar of this piece gives it its other name—nilak (blue) phulkari. An ornate central X-shape divides the cloth into four fields, each holding images from popular Punjabi folktales. In one field, a figure with another lying across his lap probably tells the story of the hero Mirza and his lover Sahiban. We see Mirza’s faithful mare Bakki tied to a nearby tree and approaching horsemen who may be Sahiban’s angry brothers and scorned fiancé. In the opposite field, a man carries two shoulder baskets containing small figures. This might represent the story of Shravan Kumar, the pious son who carried his elderly parents on pilgrimage, a tale included in the great Hindu epic, the Ramayana.