Did you know that Chope is a dupatta that was made to protect from the ‘Evil Eye’? Read on to know all about it.
Bright colours, floral designs, silk threads on khaddar colors- Phulkari of Punjab is a traditional “floral work” of the Northern state of India.
“IH PHULKARI MERI MAAN NE KADHI, ISS NOO GHUT GHUT JAPHIYAN PAAWAN”
(“My dear mother has embroidered this phulkari, I embrace it again and again with affection”) – Traditional Punjabi song
Reference to Phulkari can be seen not only in the traditional songs of Punjab but also in works and writings of Guru Nanak Devji who wrote: “Kadd kasidha paihren choli, tan tu jane nari” (only when you can embroider your own choli with the embroidery stitch, will you be accepted as a woman).
Each and every and every detailed motif is created in a geometric lattice, which was a peculiar technique for coming up with a curved and shapely final output. The embroidery designs are inspired by animals, flowers and artists, with long and short darn stitch that, create beautiful horizontal, vertical and diagonal thread work.
Phulkari designs and threadwork are of various kinds, each having a specialty or story behind it. Be it a temple offering to the Lord as a thanksgiving in the form of ‘Darshan Dwar’, the 52 varied patterns in Bawan Bagh or the Varinda Bagh made of layers of embroidered diamonds in growing size or the amazing flow of seven colours in Satranga. The list is endless.
Chope is one such exquisite Phulkari, which is extremely popular. and its story is even more interesting.
When a girl is born into a household, there is celebration and festivity. However, the most proud, happiest and bussiest person is the Nani (maternal grandmother). Her contentment is clear from the fact that almost immediately she begins work on her Phulkari-Chope. Chope actually is bigger in size than a normal Phulkari dupatta.
Significance of the Holbein Stitch
She uses the Holbein stitch specifically. This stitch is basically a running double stitch, also called the Italian Sew, Double Running Stitch, two sided line stitch, line Stitch, and Spanish Stitch.
The Pat is mostly in golden tones. They express desire and wealth.
This sew as the names indicates creates the same design on both sides of the fabric, which is khaddar. Fascinatingly, the threads put together by the grandmother is actually an affirmation and a wish that her granddaughter be happy not just in the present life but in her next life!
Till Death And Beyond
Traditionally, in the northern state of Punjab, Chope was without a border, signifying endless love and best wishes to the daughter of the house.
Once the baby girl grew up, and years later when it was time for her to get married, the Chope embroidered by the grandmother would be used to wrap the bride and dry her post her ritual bath before the wedding. Passing off as the auspicious towel, the Chope was far bigger than the other Phulkaris.
Colors of Chope
The main colors of the Chope were those that denoted joy and desire-happiness and passion. Large red and orange triangles were stitched equally on the two sides of the Chope’s longitudinal axis. Resembling peacocks they also suggested a distanced man and a woman, who were yet to be united in love!
Keep Bride Away From the Evil Eye
The Chope also had another purpose. Once the daughter was sent off to her new home that is with her husband to her in-laws it was used to cover her ‘dowry’. Lest the relatives and neighbours cast an evil eye on it out of jealousy for the gifts galore that came with her.
With so much love being doted on the girl child of the house, the family members always feared that an evil eye might be cast on their darling. With a view to chase away the same, they deliberately made a few ‘mistakes’ in the Chope’s embroidery work, to protect its owner from a ‘burri nazar’!
Indian art and craft always are more than just a form of artistic handwork. They all have a story to tell. Mesmerizing. Encapsulating. Both the weave, the fabric and the embroidery.
Meticulous attention to detail colours flow together through the thread-work is only achieved by a fine eye and steady hand.
You also might want to read about a near dying craft and weave of Gujrat called Tangalia.