Monday, 9 December 2013


 KALAMKARI is the art of painting on Fabric using colors derived from plant roots and vegetables.

The Art of KALAMKARI is mainly seen, in two places, in the State Of Andhra Pradesh namely "Machali Patnam" and "Sri kalahasti". Although they use vegetables to produce various colors but have their own differences in the processes.

It is looking like the knowledge of using colors produced from vegetables on cloth is indegeneouly developed in this region and its popularity was very limited until 1950s.

The word "KALAM" is from a regional language called Telugu and it means "pen". One may come across common words in many regional languages of India. The word "KARI" could have been derived from another telugu word "KARYAM" meaning work. While using the word KARYAM in conjunction with KALAM, the word KARYAM had been truncated to "KARI"and both the words are joined to derive a new word "KALAMKARI", probably to mean

A style of truncation used in Telugu language to derive the meaning of skilled person in a given area of specialty. We can sight many similar words, Cheta-KARI, Mata-KARI etc,from the sweet Telugu language of Andhra Pradesh, South India.

Historical writings suggest that the art could have been existing prior to 10th century.
Any KALAMKARI art approximately takes 20 to 30 days from the beginning to the finish. All the colors, materials and tools used are from plants. Multiple colors are produced on a single fabric, in series, one color after another.

Producing the KALAMKARI colors and drawing the art are interwoven processes.
A cotton fabric of a bigger size is selected than the intended size of the art. The fabric is bleached in a solution of sheep/buffalo dung and washed and rinsed in the clean water of a flowing river. The bleaching process may take up to 4 days depending on whiteness to be achieved for the fabric selected.

The fabric is soaked in a solution. The excessive solution is squeezed and the fabric dried in sun. And then fabric become ready for drawing. A KALAMKARI draws a sketch of the art on the fabric using a pencil. Again the pencils used for the sketching are produced by a special process.

Different kinds of solutions are produced by mixing water/paddy husk/vegetable derivatives and other locally available ingradients. These solutions are subjected to indegenious processes during preparation and are used in a specially made bamboo pens to convert the above drawn sketch into an art/painting. After the application of each solution, with bamboo pen, the fabric is subjected to a relevant process to mature the applied solution into a color. Thus different solutions and suitable process are used to produce a given color is used.

Due to above mentioned time consuming and complex processes, it takes painstakingly longer time to finish KALAMKARI paintings.

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