Kalam Stories

Kalamkari is an age-old way of creation of art by craftsmen, where ‘Kalam’ stands for ‘hand’ and ‘kari’ for ‘work done by hands’. Kalamkari saree is a hand painted or a block printed cotton textile. This work is famously produced in Andhra Pradesh, from where it spread all across.

Where did the art of Kalamkari cotton Saree originate from?

It is believed that during the 13th to the 19th Century AD, Andhra Pradesh witnessed a rise in migrant artists. Well, one would wonder who these artists were or what was their story? These artists were singers, musicians and painters, who were called Chitrakattis. They usually went from village to village, sharing the age old tales found in Hindu Mythology, in the form of street plays. This was later decided to paint a canvas in the spot where they performed, to enhance the understanding of the audiences. These canvases were painted with natural dyes extracted from plants. This was how the art of Kalamkari was introduced in India. This art form flourished during the reign of the Sultan of Golconda in Hyderabad. These Mughal rulers of the Golconda and Coromandel regions appreciated the art form and called its skilled craftsmen “Qualamkars”.

Kalamkari work on cloth and Handwoven Sarees

As is known, Kalamkari work is all about natural dyes and art created by hand. The technique used involves dyeing the fabric, immersing it in dye, drying, scraping the wax off, soaking etc. The clothes are naturally vibrant in colours like; red, green, yellow, etc. Traditionally, these colours are obtained from the natural sources i.e., from the roots, leaves, mineral salts and seeds. The motifs used on the clothing are mostly related to the great epics and scenes from Mahabharata and Ramayana, Mythological figures etc.

The kalamkari cotton Saree fabric undergoes tons of process which avoids smudging of dyes. After which the fabric is washed under running water to get the odour from the dye off. The fabric is washed almost twenty times and spread under the sun to dry. As soon as the Kalamkari Saree is ready for painting, the artist’s sketch motifs and designs on the fabric. Kalamkari cotton Saree largely uses earthy colours like indigo, mustard, rust, black and green, which also makes up for the Kalamkari Patch work.

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