Kalamkari is an ancient style of hand painting done with natural dyes. A tamarind pen is used for this purpose. The word ‘Kalamkari’ is derived from two words, kalam meaning pen and kari meaning craftsmanship. The art of kalamkari comprises motifs of flowers, peacocks and characters from the holy books of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Kalamkari wholesale dealers deal in the export of kalamkari hand block printed cotton textiles that are very popular worldwide.
History of Kalamkari
The art of kalamkari was born in ancient times when people used to travel from one village to another and exchanged stories with each other. Kalamkari art was first recognized during the Mughal era. Even today, kalamkari sarees are very popular as the designs are very beautiful and elegant. Vibrant colours and complicated designs give kalamkari sarees a distinct appeal that is hard to miss. The artisans incorporate new designs and ideas influenced by Persian motifs to maintain the freshness of designs. Designs based on Hindu mythology and religious symbols make kalamkari unique. Artisans usually draw kalamkari designs freehand using a pen and then fill the designs with bright colours like indigo, rust, green, mustard and black.
Preparation of Natural Dyes
The natural dyes used for kalamkari are generally prepared by mixing jaggery, water and iron fillings. Kalamkari fabric is treated with alum to ensure the stability of the colours used. The fabric is then soaked in resin and cow milk to give it a distinct shine. Various objects such as seeds, crushed flowers and different plants are also used to give different effects on the fabric.
Process of making Kalamkari fabric
Kalamkari designs are generally made on cotton fabrics, but silk is also used. The kalamkari fabric is first bleached and softened before drying in the sun. The fabric is dipped in buffalo milk and myrobalans to avoid smudging of dyes later. The kalamkari fabric is washed and dried twenty times before it is ready for printing. Once the fabric is ready, the artisans paint kalamkari designs on it by hand, taking care of all minute details.
Hand-painted and printed Kalamkari designs have an elegant and sophisticated look that has a timeless appeal. Kalamkari designs are produced mostly in Andhra Pradesh. Textile export wholesale dealers recognize the craze of kalamkari fabrics among the current generation. Kalamkari dresses, blouses and sarees are in vogue in the fashion industry as well. Kalamkari is no longer restricted to sarees and dresses, but these designs are being used on furnishings and other fabrics.