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Exploring The Mystical Art Of Kalamkari

The word Kalamkari refers to the ancient style of hand painting done on silk or cotton fabrics with the help of tamarind pen and natural dyes. Kalamkari is originated from a Persian word in which Kalam refers to pen and Kari means the craftsmanship. This art comprises of 23 tedious steps of dyeing, hand painting, bleaching, block printing, cleaning, searching, and many more. Themes drawn in Kalamkari spans from peacock, flowers and paisleys to godly characters of Hindu epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. Nowadays, this art is primarily done on the Kalamkari sarees.

Basically, it is a mystical textile, it has many unseen characters, so it is much more than textiles. One can experience a culture through this.

Kalamkari The Mystical Art – Some Interesting Facts

There are many facts about Kalamkari! Let’s Discuss!

A painting at a kalamkari exhibition
Photo of “A painting at a kalamkari exhibition” by Anuradha Sengupta under CC BY 2.0

1. Healing fabric

Also known as healing fabric, Kalamkari is featured with dynamic colours, compositions, motifs and the narration of magical forms which create a sensation that heals an individual physically as well as spiritually, like Sri Lankan masks are known for keeping aside the bad augury and bring prosperity and health.

2. Traditional decorative element

Being multi-cultural fabric it represents the rare form of the ancient, where in ancient time groups of musicians, singers, and painters (known as Chitrakattis) moved from village to village to village dwellers, and the boundless stories of Indian Tradition.

Inspired from the fascinated temple walls, in the 18th century, the British introduced the same decorative technique to clothing and named making it as “Fabric for Fashion” since at that time it has been one of the most motivating fabrics in the world. It is the perfect blend of tradition and dynamic designs, which offers a great look to the fabric.

See Also -   A View Of The Creative Face Of Bishnupur Art

3. Eco-Friendly 

Kalamkari is totally an eco-friendly and organic as it is done in Natural dyes, using various flowers, cow dung seeds, and milk as a natural binder. A fabric gets its shininess from natural starch, which never harms skin or creates an allergy. The preparation method is totally sustainable and doesn’t harm the environment and surrounding. Alum confirms no colour bleeding.

4. The Srikalahasti style and Machhalipatnam style of art – The 2 idiosyncratic styles

Kalamkari art in our country is done basically in two styles – first is the Srikalahasti style and the second is the Machhalipatnam style. In Srikalahasti style the pen or as we call “kalam” is used to draw freehand drawing and colours are filled in, this entire art is hand worked. The Magical Kalam is made of bamboo, which is dipped into the dye solution to create the calligraphic effect. Since the fabric fits painted textiles, one can explore by connecting it with tradition and culture.

In the nutshell, Kalamkari is a rich source to learn the tradition and culture of ancient people, so everyone learns this old technique, for its revitalization, for it to endure and grow. It is an individual’s commitment to adopt this old craft and mould it in the modern way to bring it to front it of the modern world and add up it in home and lifestyle fashion.

Featured Photo of “A painting at a kalamkari exhibition” by Anuradha Sengupta under CC BY 2.0



Meghna is an MBA HR by profession, she has 5 years of corporate experience in HR and Admin. She has a very simple style of writing this is one reason why her work reaches easily to different types of people. Apart from writing she also loves to shop be it real or window she can spend hours shopping :).

Currently, her little one keeps her occupied. However, her passion for writing still forces her to take some time out time and pen down her thoughts into words. She truly loves both her jobs, looking after her naughty little kid at time same time create quality content for the website.

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