Kalamkari Fabric

Kalamkari Sarees

What is Kalamkari

Kalamkari is first of all a technique of painting on textiles. Kalam means pen in the Persian language . Kalamkari literally means drawing with a pen and is certainly a traditional and distinct art form.

It is an ancient method of block printing done on soft cotton fabrics and was done in Andhra Pradesh. For example, large bold images of flora & fauna make the painting attractive. In addition, dark vegetable dyes are used in the Kalamkari work. The colours are vivid and bright.  Hence, they are varied and interesting as compared to normal block printed textiles. There are two places in Andhra Pradesh ,where this art flourished. SriKalahasthi, where freehand drawing is practised and Machilipatnam which uses block printing techniques.

Where are Kalmkari sarees available ?

Available at Chennai:- Kalpa Druma, Rangachari Cloth Store

Shop in Delhi at:- Dilli Haat, Monolisa, Lepakshi (Andhra Pradesh Emporium), Prapun

Available at Bangalore:- Salonee Silks N Cotton, Gaurang, Prasiddhi Silks


In ancient India, storytellers went form one village to the other to entertain people with the stories of epics. Also, they used colourful drawings to illustrate the stories. Kalamkari painting was used to enhance the story telling.

Freehand drawing and vegetable dyes were used in the colourful drawings. Animals such as peacocks, tigers & deer are all frequently used in the drawing in addition to flowers and trees.Tales from Ramaya, Mahabarata and other Puranas are painted in this method. They can be used as wall hanging as well.

Process of making Kalamkari

Cotton cloth is the base for the painting. Milk & fruit  extracts  are mixed to create  the mordant and fix the cloth .The artist then draws the figures on the cloth with charcoal sticks. It is further outlined  with pens dipped in Kaisimi liqud. The interesting fact is there is wool wrapped around the pen.This way, the liquid is continuously released on the cloth when the wool is squeezed. The cloth is frequently washed after  each process and  application of each colour.Red Indigo & yellow dyes are used as primary colours.

In addition to huge wall paintings, Kalamkari painting are available on fabrics, sarees, salwar kameez, dupattas and furnishings. Kalamkari sarees are very popular.

It takes 1-2 months to create a medium sized painting.



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