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Tota Bagh Phulkari

First half of the 20th century
Artist/maker unknown, Punjabi

Rather than the usual geometric patterns, this bagh (garden) phulkari displays rows of totas (common ring-neck parrots) alternating with pigeons and other birds. Baghs were the most expensive and labor-intensive type of phulkari to produce, thanks to the solid embroidery that covers their surface, done primarily in costly imported silk thread. Often a woman could afford to buy only a little thread at a time. This resulted in a single bagh having threads from different dye lots, each slightly varying in color. Here the shades of orange-gold on the background add visual richness, but also reveal the artist’s sacrifice of money and time.

Object Details

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