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Sainchi Phulkari

Artist/maker unknown, Punjabi

Made in Punjab, eastern Punjab, India, Asia

Early 20th century

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

7 feet 8 inches × 54 inches (233.7 × 137.2 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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This sainchi phulkari depicts a circus theme and is embroidered in a lively variety of thread colors on pink khaddar that has been dyed using the roots of the madder plant. It also shows relatively naturalistic drawing (note how the diverse animals bend their legs as they walk).

Circus troupes that traveled from village to village became especially popular in India from about 1880. Some of their acts were of longstanding local origin, others derived from European circuses. Circus acts were often depicted in newspapers and inexpensive prints that women could see even if they had never been to a circus in person. Circus-related images on this


include parades of large animals, men wrestling using long weights, a man making a tethered bear dance, and acrobats performing feats (back flips, balancing on a bamboo pole). Additionally it depicts everyday imagery, such as trains and women using hand spinning wheels, cooking, or churning milk into butter.