Phulkari (literally ‘flower-work’) is a densely embroidered wedding shawl which enjoyed enormous popularity throughout the Punjab between 1850 and 1950. Their origination is lost in the mists of time but it is through that the tradition came into India with the migration of the Jat people from Central Asia into the subcontinent. Phulkaris can be found from the Swat Valley in the North, through the ages of Hazara, Rawalpindi, Jhelum, Sialkot and Lahore in the modern day Pakistan into Amritsar, Jullundur, Ludhiana, Patiala and Rohtak and Hissar- neighbouring parts of Haryana- right up to Delhi.
While there are differences in the designs of phulkaris from all these areas, they share certain common elements: they are embroidered (using untwisted silk skeins called pats which are imported from Afghanistan, Kashmir and Bengal) from the reverse side on coarse hand-spun, hand-woven cloth (khaddar) which is dyed madder red. Sometimes the ground remains undyed, or is dyed black, indigo or deep brown but red is the prominent colour. It comes under the category of counted thread embroidery, using short n long stitches.