With its origins about 3000 years ago, the art of Kalamkari includes both printing and painting which have refined over time to give it a modern outlook. The literal meaning of the art is derived from the Persian word ‘Kalam’ meaning ‘Pen’ and ‘Kari’ meaning ‘craftsmanship’. Kalamkari got recognition during the Mughal Era and was further encouraged as fine artistic excellence by the British during their rule. Kalamkari is done in two distinguishing forms known as ‘Machilipatnam’ & ‘Kalahasti’. Amongst the two, Kalahasti Kalamkari is an art of using the Kalam or Pen to draw free hand intricate motifs and then filling them with colours.
The process of Kalamkari usually involves 23 steps, starting from bleaching of the fabric to washing, sun drying, softening, natural dying, hand painting and fixation. Initially done only on cotton, Kalamkari is now done on silk and other natural fabrics as well. The tedious process of preparing the Kalamkari cotton fabric involves treatment with a solution of cow dung and bleach which is then immersed in buffalo milk and Myrobalans. This prevents the smudging of colours when painted with natural dyes. To remove the odour, the fabric is washed 20 times and dried under the sun. The Kalamkari craftsman utilizes a bamboo or date palm stick pointed at one side with a bundle of fine hair joined to this guided end to fill in as the brush or pen. When the fabric is ready, the artisans sketch the motifs on the fabrics to fill colours.
The Kalamkari designs and motifs are usually inspired from Hindu mythology or forts, palaces and temples of India. Machilipatnam Kalamkari was greatly influenced by the Persian motifs due to the Muslim rule at that time whereas Kalahasti depicted images of Gods and stills from Ramayana and Mahabharata. The art of Kalamkari is now practiced mostly in the state of Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. In Gujarat, the Hindu mythological motifs are prominent whereas in Andhra Pradesh fort, temple and palace motifs are used more.
The exquisite art of Kalamkari is now mostly practiced to design sarees in beautiful and intricate motifs. Owing to the tedious process, the sarees are expensive, especially handmade Kalahasti Kalamkari sarees. Although many machine based processes have been introduced to cut down the time and money spent on a single saree, many brands still believe in preserving the original technique. Desically Ethnic is one of those exclusive brands where the craftsmanship of India is worshipped. Here you can find a healthy mix of machine made as well as handmade crafts. With our ongoing festival to celebrate this art, we have added a new range of Kalamkari products.
Here are the top 5 picks for this season and probably the next 10 seasons as well because this classic art never goes out of fashion.
#1 The bright and vibrant colours used in this tussar silk saree gives it a completely unique and classy look. If you believe in sophistication and still want to wear something eye catchy, then this is your chance to try your hands on this beautiful saree.
#2 Want to kill the heat with style and grace? Here’s the impeccable look for you! This linen saree in white colour is an epitome of class and elegance. The motifs run through the saree and are more elaborate on the palla. The bird motifs adds life to the white colour and design. The blouse also comes in the same embroidery with a peacock motif.
#3 This super affordable reversible jacket is a must have for you if you want to keep your look causal yet classy. It can be paired with kurtas, short tops, dresses as well as your western outfits to create a magnificent fusion. One side of the jacket is hand printed with Kalamkari motifs while the other side is in Ikat.
#4 This Kalamkari tussar cotton dupatta will steal your heart at once. Waiting for something exclusive and unique to pair with your favourite suit/kurta? Your wait is over because Desically Ethnic brings to you the one of a kind collection of dupattas in Kalamkari. The multi-colour dupatta can never go wrong with any outfit and will not even sit in your closet for months. You can use it with a number of colours and still won’t get bored.
#5 You surely cannot miss the chance to have this breath-taking painting in your living room. It doesn’t take one to be an avid art follower to see the beauty in this Tree of Life painting because of the exquisite piece of skilled artistry. The Tree of Life depicted in the painting will surely add positivity and beauty to your home.