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Kalamkari

The art of Kalamkari got its recognition during the Mughal era. It is a very detailed and complicated painting that results in beautiful and elegant designs. Kalamkari designs and colours are very vibrant and bright. After being world famous, the artisans modernized Kalamkari designs and came up with new innovative ideas and themes, highly influenced by Persian motifs, Hindu mythology and religious symbols. This gave an identification to Kalamkari designs. The designs are usually drawn by free hand using a pen and the filling is also completely done by hand using earthy colours like mustard, indigo, rust, green and black.


Generally, cotton fabric is used for making Kalamkari; however, silk fabric can also be used.


It is among the most beautiful traditional Indian art forms. The process of making Kalamkari fabric involves 23 steps. Kalamkari fabric is first treated with a solution of cow dung and bleach. After keeping the fabric in this solution, it gets a uniform off-white colour. To avoid smudging of dyes on the Kalamkari fabric, it is also dipped in a mixture of buffalo milk and mylobalans. The fabric is then washed twenty times and sun dried. After this, the fabric is ready for printing



Natural dyes are used to paint colours in Kalamkari art that are extracted by blending jaggery, iron fillings and water and it is used for outlining sketches. Alum is also used for making natural dyes for Kalamkari fabric and also for treating the fabric. Alum ensures stability of the colour in Kalamkari fabric. This fabric has a characteristic shine because it is soaked in resin and cow milk. Different effects on the Kalamkari fabric are achieved by using cow dung, seeds, crushed flowers and different varieties of plants. After every single application of dye on Kalamkari fabric, it needs to be dyed for better results.


Kalamkari designs are then painted on the fabric by hand. Kalamkari fabrics include minute details so the entire procedure is intricate and requires an eye for detailing.


An increasing number of people all across the globe are now discouraging the use of harmful chemicals in production and manufacturing. In such a scenario, kalamkari emerges as the perfect craft because it avoids the use of artificial chemicals and still produces beautifully coloured fabrics.


Kalamkari art, in its recent applications is seen depicting Buddha and Buddhist art forms. In India, a lot of people are engaged in making handloom sarees; and Kalamkari sarees is one such handloom work that requires art, dedication and love for paintings. Kalamkari sarees are considered as a rich and elegant choice.


There are two identifiable types of Kalamkari: Srikalahasti and Machilipatnam. In Machilipatnam style, Kalamkari designs are generally printed with hand carved blocks with intricate details, printed by hand. On the other hand, Srikalahasti style includes Kalamkari designs inspired from Hindu mythology, that describe the scenes from the epics. Kalamkari designs also emerged, based on the states where it is created. Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh are two prime states where two different types of Kalamkari designs are practiced. Andhra Pradesh borrows its Kalamkari design inspiration from forts, palaces and temples, along with animal and bird motifs; while Gujarat borrows its Kalamkari design inspiration from mythological characters.