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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dresses Of Pakistan

The embroidery style peculiar to the Punjab (though executed in some parts of the Frontier also) is 'phulkari' generally done on shawls meant for the bride. In the traditional 'phulkari' the patterns are separated by plain spaces. But in the 'bag\' (garden) pattern sometimes the entire surface of the cloth is covered. The 'bagh' styles are named after the dominant motifs and colours, like 'Shalimar bagh' 'chand bagh', 'mirch bagh', 'satranga', 'panch-ranga', etc. Another variety is 'chop', in which the edges are richly embroidered. The technique is the simple darning stitch, done from the back, either by counting the threads or with the help of a thread line. In 'bagh' work the stitch is so refined that the embroidery becomes the fabric itself. The quality of workmanship is judged by the smoothness at the back that can only come from the evenness of stitches.

Traditionally, 'phulkari' was done with silk thread but now cotton, synthetic and woolen threads are also used. The dominant colours are red, pink, white and green.

In the Northern Areas and Frontier, bold geometric patterns in primary colours continue to be embroidered on shirts trousers, cloaks, bed-sheets and handkerchiefs. Swati embroidery still bears a strong Greek influence. Chitral and Gilgit are renowned for embroidery on 'chunghas' (loose cloaks) which are made from locally woven patti cloth. The decorative motifs include 'tughras', geometric and floral designs, creepers, etc. Embroidered woolen caps are made throughout the Frontier region and so are braided velvet waistcoats.

Baluchi embroideries are also famous throughout the world for their bold patterns and rich colour schemes. The best workmanship here, too, is on shirts. A unique item is the 'pushk' (loose shirt) which has embroidered pattern on the front portion, matching cuffs and a pouch on the lower half of its front. The techniques include hurmutch, inert laced, and chain-stitch. The buttonhole stitch is employed to set mirrors. The Baluchi women have acquired a special skill in ornamentation of clothes with mirror-work. They create equally pleasing effect with abundance of mirrors on a simple base and with a few mirror pieces set within an intricately embroidered design.

In Sindh exquisite patterns are embroidered on shirts, shawls and scarves. The most lavishly done pieces is the 'guj' the bride's wedding shirt. The entire shirt is covered with embroidery and mirror work. A common design is to divide the surface into rectangles with a sunflower motif in the centre and separated from one another by elaborately worked borders.

The traditional embroidered shawls include 'abochinais', worn by women, and 'malirs' worn by men. Another example of typical Sindhi embroidery is 'bokhani' a scarf thrown over the shoulder by the bridegroom. Usually, geometric, floral and animal motifs are embroidered in red and black. However, the largest variety of patterns is found on shirts. Besides ornamentation with decorative thread-work mirror pieces are used to enhance the beauty of the pieces. The darning stitch is often and inch long. The button-hole stitch is employed to bring out flowers and leaves in sharper relief or to set mirrors.

(Contributed by Shehla Rahman, Karachi)

The Pakistan Postal Services Corporation is issuing a set of special postage stamps of Rs. 6/- value each depicting four different dresses of Pakistan on March 10, 1993.