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Sainchi Phulkari/Nilak Phulkari

Artist/maker unknown, Punjabi

Possibly made in Haryana, Hessar, Punjab, eastern Punjab, India, Asia
Made in Haryana, Punjab, eastern Punjab, India, Asia
Possibly made in Haryana, Hissar, Punjab, eastern Punjab, India, Asia

20th century

Handspun cotton plain weave (khaddar) with silk and cotton embroidery in darning, running, chain, and buttonhole stitches, glass mirrors

7 feet 5 inches × 53 inches (226.1 × 134.6 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
The Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Phulkari Collection

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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.