An ancient and traditional painting done on the fabric of cotton or silk is what kalamkari is all about. The artists are known to use tamarind pens and natural dyes to create this beautiful art form.
Kalamkari word is known to have been derived from a Persian Word. Kalam refers to a pen and Kari is the craftsmanship. The art of kalamkari includes hand-wrenching steps of dyeing, bleaching, hand paintings, stretching, block-printing, cleaning, etc.
History Of The Traditional Paintings
Folk singers and artists used to roam from village to village, telling stories about Hindu mythology to the villagers. However, throughout time, the practice of narrating stories evolved into canvas painting, and this is when Kalamkari art originally emerged. This vibrant artwork goes back to about 3000 B.C. Fabric samples showing Kalamkari art have been discovered at the ancient ruins of Mohenjo-Daro, according to historians.
However, it was during the Mughal era that this painting style gained popularity. Mughals fostered this art in the Golconda and Coromandel provinces, where skilled artisans (called Qualamkars) practiced it; this is how the word Kalamkari came to be. This art developed at Machilipatnam in the Krishna area of Andhra Pradesh during the Golconda Sultanate and was later popularised as a decorative design on garments by Britishers in India during the 18th century.
Kalamkari cotton fabric is first treated with a mixture of cow dung and bleach. The fabric takes on a homogeneous off-white tone after being immersed in this solution for several hours. The cotton cloth is then soaked in a solution of buffalo milk and Myrobalans. When using natural dyes, this prevents smearing of the dyes on the fabric. To remove the odor of buffalo milk, the fabric is washed under running water. Similarly, the fabric is washed twenty times and dried in the sun. Artists sketch motifs and designs on the fabric after it is ready for painting. Following that, the Kalamkari painters create dyes from natural sources to fill the drawings with color.
In India, there are two distinct Kalamkari styles: the Srikalahasti style and the Machilipatnam style. Motifs are mostly printed with hand-carved traditional blocks in the Machilipatnam style of Kalamkari, with detailed detailing painted by hand. The Srikalahasti style of painting, on the other hand, is based on Hindu mythology and depicts scenes from epics and folklore. Because of its origins in temples, this style has a strong religious connotation.
Two new sorts of Kalamkari patterns have recently arisen, based on the states in which they are generated. Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh are two prominent Indian states where two distinct Kalamkari motifs are produced. The Andhra Kalamkari takes design cues from Indian forts, palaces, and temples, as well as animal and bird patterns. While mythological characters like as Krishna-Arjuna from the Mahabharata, Lord Krishna, Lord Ganesha, Lord Buddha, and others are shown in Gujarat Kalamkari.
The situation in the Present
From its beginnings as sacred paintings representing Indian gods and goddesses through its rise to prominence during the Mughal dynasty’s reign, and on to now, when Andhra Pradesh is the greatest producer of Kalamkari, this art has come a long way.
Kalamkari art had lost its luster in the last decade due to the time-consuming technique needed in its creation. The introduction of high-tech machine looms and printed fabrics hastened the disappearance of this art form. However, it was Indian fashion designers who banded together to restore this art form and assist artisans practicing it in the state of Andhra Pradesh.