salwar kameez – by work - Kalamkari

Kalamkari is a fine traditional art that developed in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, India, sometime in the 16th or 17th century A.D. there were two distinctive styles which evolved on their own, each with their own flavour.

One style had free hand drawing and filling in of colors. Since the art flourished close to Hindu temples and also given the patronage of Hindu ings ruling at that time, subjects were generally around temple objects, paintings, sculpture, wall hangings, chariots, temple banners, deities, and scenes from the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, and mythological stories. The other flowered sometime during Mughal rule and themes were generally to do with nature, flora and fauna.

Both have continued wonderfully since then and the current Kalamkari involves a mix of both styles. Today Kalamkari has also come to mean hand block printing with the pen used for drawing finer details and also filling in the colors in the gaps.

The essence of Kalamkari

Kalamkari, meaning craftsmanship through the use of a pen, is an ethnic art involving hand-painting or block printing on Sarees. The Kalamkari was originally hand-painting on cotton fabrics to elevate their looks. Today it loosely includes free hand-painting on any cotton fabric through the use of vegetable dyes. Once, only cotton fabrics had kalamkari done on them. Today it includes silk, and blends too. 

Kalamkari painting is an arduous process of dyeing and hand printing. Several stages of washing and treatment to the fabric prior to the painting and after it, is undergone before the final product is ready.Natural dyes are employed for colours, in Kalamkari, with cotton, silk, crepe, georgette being the usual fabrics as canvas for this art. Myrobalan along with buffalo milk is used for fixing of colour reagents. Myrobalan is preferred for its high tannin content which helps adhesion. For drawing the contours and fine lines, the Kalam or pen is used. Sometimes it is also for doing the coloured lines. The pen could be a bamboo piece that would be dipped in fermented jaggery.

Kalamkari is experimented as patch work on other fabrics in various colour combinations. Motifs are some of the popular subjects like trees, creepers, flowers, leaves and birds.

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