KalamkariThe kalamkari, handpainted cloths of Sri Kalahasti, Andra Pradesh, works of art drawn entirely by hand, were originally created predominantly for the temples as narrative murals.
These murals tell the stories of the great Hindu epics in picture form. Earlier this century, Christian missionaries commissioned artists to create murals telling the story of Christ.
In addition to the epic murals, the Tree of Life theme is very popular and comes in many forms. Artists are also branching out and using the medium for their purpose.
Kalamkari is an exquisite ancient craft of painted and printed fabrics. It derives its name from Kalam meaning Pen, and Kari meaning work, literally Pen-work. It includes hand painting as well as block printing with vegetable dyes. Kalamkari art has evolved through trial and error over the last 3000 years. Techniques of craftsmanship in Kalamkari were handed down within the families from generation to generation.
The Kalamkari art of painting undergoes a laborious, slow process of resist - dyeing and hand printing. Many stages have to be undergone before the final results are achieved. Unlike other styles of painting, Kalamkari painting demands a lot of treatment before and after the painting is completed on the cotton fabric. Depending on the treatment of cloth, or quality of the mordant, the colors change accordingly. Every step from soaking of the cloth, to sketching the outlines to washing and drying the cloth, is done carefully and correctly.
The world over, people are turning away from dangerous chemical dyes. The harmless, naturally dyed fabrics is used for Kalamkari paintings. The artists believe in using natural dyes, extracted from bark, flower and root. One would be stunned to know that the colour red is obtained by using the Indian madder root, yellow from the pomegranate seed or even mango bark, and black from myrobalam fruit. No chemical dyes are used is producing kalamkari...
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