Kalamkari Paintings


The literal meaning of kalamkari is a painting done using pen. Kalamkari is an ancient craft which traces its origin 3000 years ago.It's an art of painting as well as printing using vegetable dyes.Kalamkari belongs to India and Iran historically. This art forms has been enriched through generations as the techniques of craftsmanship are given as heritage to the descendents.

In India two ancient cities of Andhra Pradesh are almost synonymous with Kalamkari, are Masulipatnam and Srikalahasti.both cities produce their own style of kalamkari paintings .

Masulipatnam style of Kalamkari:

Masulipatnam design of Kalamkari are Persian in character with intricate and delicate forms. The traditional block prints were largely used with Persian motifs like trees, flowers, creepers and leaf designs. Later the Dutch influence was realized when there was an increase in demand from Europe. This style of Kalamkari was chiefly done on bed covers, curtains and also garments, as it was in a popular demand in the west. In the nineteenth century, block prints reached at its peak and even today it's largely produced for Indians and foreigners.

Srikalahasti Style of Kalamkari:

Temples were a major inspiration for this design of Kalamkari . The art bloomed under the patronage of the temples, which demanded scrolls and wall hangings with story figurative and narrative components. Episodes from the Puranas, Mahabharata, Ramayana, and other Mythological stories were richly displayed in paintings for their themes painted in the panels with a script running along the border. Gods such as Krishna, Brahma, Ganesha, Durga, Kiratavinyaarjuna, Lakshmi, Rama, Shiva and Parvathi were the subjects upon which these paintings were based.

Method And Techniques

The Kalamkari art of painting undergoes a laborious, gradual process of resist - dyeing and hand printing. There are several stages in which the whole process undergoes before the final results are achieved. Unlike other styles of painting, Kalamkari painting goes through a lot of treatment before and after the painting is completed on the cotton fabric. The colors change according to the treatment of cloth, or quality of the mordant. Every step from soaking of the fabric, to sketching the outlines to washing and drying the fabric, is done carefully and cautiously.

Handicrafts Trade
Suggested Reading