Kalamkari: Handmade Designs On Fabric




“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.” ― Émile Zola


Kalamkari is an exquisite ancient craft of painted and printed fabrics. 

'Kalam' means the pen and 'kari' means the worker. This art has evolved over the last three thousand years, owing to experimentation, trial and error of the local artisans. The Kalamkari prints mostly have pictures from the epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata. Other Hindu gods and goddesses also find a place in this art. Today sarees, salwar suits, fabrics, dupattas and other dress materials on Kalamkari prints are easily available in online stores.

One essential part of this art is the availability of water for washing of the fabric. So the presence of a river aides the business around Kalamkari. The hand painted fabrics take over days or months to become finished final products. The colors used are natural dyes, made from charcoal, vegetables and plants.

Kalamkari Krishna Printed Fabric (WikiCommons)


Process involves the natural fibers being washed and dried in the sun. The cloth is treated with milk before being dried. The outlines of the designs is then first drawn with a dark color dye, using a tamarind stick. Mostly black alum solution is used for the purpose. Washing and drying is done after every step. The cloth is boiled with red coloring materials to give it a basic background color. Then other colors like yellow, indigo and green are used for filling in the designs. It is boiled in water and eventually soaked in the river water for hours for the final wash.

Block printing is also used for intricate designs.

Kalamkari saree and salwar suits are a must for your wardrobe.




I am participating in the #AToZChallenge with #BlogchatterA2Z and I am sharing posts themed around Art for this entire month of April. Share and connect with me on social media.
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