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Kalamkaari is an ancient Indian art that was originated about some 3000 years ago.

The term Kalamkaari is coined from the word “kalam” which means pen and “Kari”which means craftsmanship. The practitioners of this art were called “Qalamkars”. The name of the art has Persian origin. Its a kind of “hand printing” or “block printing” predominant in South of India, to be more precise from Andhra Pradesh.

The art is known for its brilliant paintings on the fabric. The fabric which was chosen to portray the art was cotton or silk. The artists’ used pen made up of bamboo and natural dye to paint. The dyes used in Kalamkaari is vegetable dyes which is blended with milk. The Kalamkaari is more on the subtle side, so the hues are not on the brighter and shimmery side. The common hues used to dye the fabric are red, yellow, green, brown and blue which are made from vegetables and flowers like pomegranate, turmeric, indigo etc.

Kalamkaari was flourished during the reign of Moghuls and Golconda Sultanate of Hyderabad. British also had affinity towards the art form.

The two iconic styles of Kalamkaari are 1) Masulipatanam Kalamkaari and 2) Srikalahasti Kalamkaari.

The Masulipatanam style of Kalamkaari has more bend towards Persian heritage and illustrates Persian motifs, designs and pattern. Its more of block printing.

The Srikalahasti style of Kalamkaari is inspired from Hindu mythology and illustrates Ramayana, Mahabharata and Hindu deities. Its more of free style and is done from hand. 

It takes lots of efforts and pain for the artisans to develop or rather give existence to a Kalamkaari fabric. Its a very slow and vigorous process which involves dyeing, hand printing, drying and various treatment techniques are applied in the making of a Kalamkaari fabric. Its the bread and butter of many artisans from Andhra Pradesh and they are practicing the art from generations.

Kalamkaari - The traditional and humble art work from India is one of the “MUST HAVES” in your wardrobe. So, adorn yourself with one! :-)