Know your Phulkari - Is it Handcrafted OR...?

Do you know the difference between Authentic, Hand-crafted Phulkari and its Cheaper, Machine-made Alternative? All that glitters is NOT Gold.

(Image 1) Below: An example of a Machine-Made Phulkari. Designs are created using CADD Technique (Computer Aided Draft & Design). In just a few hours, a brand new piece of Phulkari can be manufactured. It looks perfect. The stitches are "taut"and follow strict lines of the underlying pattern. Regardless of Base-fabric, sequins are perfectly sown in! 

An Example of Fake, Cheap, Machine-Made Phulkari. This is destroying the Handicraft Tradition and stealing livelihood of Rural Women Phulkari Artisans.

 

Image 2 (Below): Real Authentic Handcrafted Phulkari (LEFT) juxtaposed against the Cheaper Manufactured Alternative! On the left, the handcrafted Phulkari is clearly "less than word" - in other words, more human! The stitches are looser, not as "taut" and there can be stitch variation all over the fabric especially since authentic Phulkari / Bagh / Adha Bagh pieces can take even a skilled Artisan several hundreds of hours to craft. 

 

Real Authentic Handcrafted Phulkari juxtaposed against the Cheaper Manufactured Alternative!

 

Image 3 (Below): Unfinished Back-side of the Real Authentic Handcrafted Phulkari (LEFT) juxtaposed against the back-side/raw-side of the manufactured alternative. Whilst both look "clean" - you will spot KNOTS on the unfinished side of the real Phulkari. These knots enable phulkari to be used literally as a "fabric" - you can cut it, customize it into a jacket/skirt or a smaller sized fabric to frame or make into a cushion cover. The embroidery will stay intact and the Motif and Patterns will not undo themselves. On the other hand, the whole embroidery is likely to come undone if a thread is pulled out from the CADD alternative.

An interesting argument is always presented by the advocates of Machine-made phulkari that new technology enables it to be cut and customized. However, the point being made goes way beyond the fabric and how its crafted - by an Artisan to whom it historically and culturally belongs OR to a robotic needle attached to a machine?! Machine-made alternatives are causing serious erosion of an already negatively impacted handicraft and taking away the livelihood of the Phulkari Artisans - who are the real custodians of this centuries old craft. 

"Handcrafted Phulkari is a LIVING FABRIC" - It has a soul, a palpable pulse to it, a sense of happiness/emotionality to it. Its clone is clearly and obviously bereft of any such emotion. 

A clear case of ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD ! 

Unfinished Back-side of the Real Authentic Handcrafted Phulkari (LEFT) juxtaposed against the back-side of the fake Phulkari