Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra

Lost in the Maze – A Bhool Bhullaiyya Maze Phulkari Bagh

A rare pattern – the Bhool Bhullaiyya – or Maze.

I look forward to finding out why such a pattern came to be – what was the reason to create this Maze in embroidery. Of all the possible patterns one can think of, why this one?

One possibility is that one of the post-wedding ceremony rituals is a game played by the bride and groom in arranged marriages. These games are ice-breakers that are conducted by the groom’s family, once the couple has arrived home after the ceremonies and celebrations are over.

The game that I know of is as follows:

A pot – roughly 9-12 inches diameter – is filled with water and a ring is dropped into it. The priest or some elder directs the game and commands the bride and groom – still dressed in all their finery – to retrieve the ring. Whoever does so is the winner of that round and several rounds of the game are played. All the relatives watch and cheer on. The water is either colored with milk or with red vermillion so one cannot actually view whats going one inside the pot. For the bride and the groom, this is meant to be the first point of physical contact as the groom uses this opportunity to flirt with her during the game. The coyness, the sweet innocence, the blushing of the bride, the winning, the cheering is all extremely endearing.

In the past arranged marriages afforded no scope for pre-marital familiarity of any sort and so such ceremonies of games were necessary to break the ice.

Perhaps this maze was one such game?

This question will be on the list of questions that I will ask the elderly women of Punjab soon!

Very Rare Old Bhool Bhulaiya Bagh Phulkari textile

Very Rare Old Bhool Bhulaiya Bagh Phulkari textile

Very Rare Old Bhool Bhulaiya Bagh Phulkari textile

Itried playing this to see which of the route stakes me to the centre and after a few tries I gave up as something else inr real life demanded my attention and broke my reverie!

The florette endings are intriguing!

More images of this enigmatic bagh phulkari may be seen on

I'd love to hear your view on this. Please comment below:

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