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The Kalamkari art


Kalamkari is an ancient Indian art. It derivesits name from Kalam meaning Pen, and Kari meaning work, literally Pen-work. TheKalamkari artist uses a bamboo stick or date palm stick pointed at one end witha bundle of fine hair or thread attached to the pointed end to serve as thebrush or pen. These paintings were earlier drawn on cotton fabric only, but nowwe can see these paintings on silk and other materials as well. The Kalamkariart includes both, printing and painting. The colors used in making thesepaintings are organic.

In ancient India, the art of painting usingorganic colors and dyes was very popular, but this style of painting originatedat Kalahasti (80 miles north of Chennai) and at Masulipatnam (200 miles east ofHyderabad). The paintings then used to depict hindu deities and the scenes fromHindu mythology. Masulipatnam being a Muslim region, the weavers were involvedin the block printing art whereas the artists from Kalahasti practiced paintingHindu mythological scenes.


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

§  The Kalahastitradition which developed in the temple region mostly concentrated on themesform Hindu mythology, epics (Ramayana, Mahabharatha), images of Gods andheroes.

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

·     KutchKalamkari  werealso studied in this research project.

The artists whoworked on the Kalamkari painting scrolls were knownas Jadupatuas or DuariPatuas. This can be translated to ‘magicalpainters’. European trading merchants however gave the process their own nameswhich included the more familiar ‘chintz’ which came from theBritish. The Dutch called it ’sitz’ whilst the Portuguese referred toit as ‘pintado’.



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