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Kalamkari Art (Andhra Pradesh)

Kalamkari is an ancient Indian art that originated about 3000 years ago. It derives its name from Kalam meaning Pen, and Kari meaning work, literally Pen-work. The Kalamkari artist uses a bamboo or date palm stick pointed at one end with a bundle of fine hair attached to this pointed end to serve as the brush or pen. The Kalamkari art includes both, printing and painting. The colors used in making these paintings are organic. Most of the colors are prepared using parts of plants – roots, leaves along with mineral salts of iron, tin, copper, alum, etc., which are used as mordant.

The kalamkari goes through a process of resist – dyeing and hand printing. There are lots and lots of treatments involved before and after the painting are done. The colors change depending on the treatment of cloth and quality of the mordant. Every step in the process is painstakingly done and with perfection. These paintings were earlier drawn on cotton fabric only, but now we can see these paintings on silk and other materials as well.

The styles of Kalamkari Paintings:

  • Masulipatnam Kalamkari:

Owing to Muslim rule in Golconda, the Masulipatnam Kalamkari was influenced by Persian motifs & designs, widely adapted to suit their taste. The outlines and main features are done using hand carved blocks. The finer details are later done using the pen.

  • Sri Kalahasti Style:

The Kalahasti tradition which developed in the temple region mostly concentrated on themes form Hindu mythology, epics (Ramayana, Mahabharatha), images of Gods and heroes.

  • Karrupur Style:

Karrupur is a style of Kalamkari that developed in the Thanjavur region during the Maratha rule. The Kalamkari work was a further embellishment to the gold brocade work in the woven fabric, which was used as sarees & dhotis by the royal family during the period of Raja Sarfoji and later Raja Shivaji.

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