Mirrors and Peacocks: Embroidery of Haryana


Embroidered backless cholis with narrow petias. Hissar (Haryana). Collection of Namita Malik.

Unlike the phulkaris and baghs of Punjab, which maintained a highly controlled geometric format, the similar technique in Haryana with lesser rigidity, created  motifs that were full of life and spontaneity.

With a wide distribution of the Jat and Bishnoi community apart from the main territory of Haryana, the embroidery shares similarities with the ones done by the above communities residing in the western districts of Rajasthan as well, namely, Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Barmer. Women from Hissar, Sirsa, Rohtak and Karnal, embroidered on a narrow coarse woollen or cotton cloth (khaddar) with floss silk threads with delightful motifs of frolicking peacocks and peahens, jewellery and vegetation. Dyed cotton threads were also used extensively. A splendid late 19th century cotton skirt from Hissar which is embroidered with dense repeats of wheat motifs in golden yellow floss silk can be seen in Rosemary Crill’s book on Indian embroideries.[i] The shishedar or chemas phulkari which used inserts of mirrors within highly stylised floral and figurative embroidery was also very popular. The mirrors were earlier made and obtained from Karnal.[ii]  Although, the use of mirrors was not restricted to only shawls and odhanis (head cover) but extended to embellish skirts and cholis.

[i]Rosemary Crill. Indian Embroidery. (New Delhi: Prakash Books, 1999), 124-125.

[ii]Neelam Grewal. The Needle Lore: Traditional Embroideries of Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.  (New Delhi: Ajanta Publications, 1988), 58-59.

Embroidered Shawl/Odhani, Hissar (Haryana). Collection of Namita Malik.
Mirrors and Peacocks: Embroidery of Haryana

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