Kalamkari is a type of block print done on fabrics using vegetable dyes. Kalamkari has its origins in Andhra Pradesh in South India. There are two styles of Kalamkari- the Machhlipatnam style and the Srikalahasti style. Traditionally, the basic design or motif is hand-painted using a pen or qalam, giving it its name. Later, the dyes are filled into the contours, giving it the desired form.
Designs in the Srikalahasti style are totally hand-made, though this is not wholly true of the Machhlipatnam style. Kalamkari reached its prominence under the Muslim Kings of Golconda, who were enamored of its decorative qualities.
In independent India, Kamala devi Chattopadhyay and Nellie Sethna have worked hard to revive this beautiful style. Kalamkari uses buffalo milk and my robalan to prepare the fabric. A total of 17 washes and the use of numerous natural dyes ultimately give kalamkari fabric its unique appearance.
Great artistry is involved in the making of the printing blocks in Kalamkari.The printing blocks have elaborate and detailed designs carved on them. Repeated washing, sunning and bleaching ensure that the colours remain fast on the fabric. Alum plays an important role in making the dyes, and rendering stability to the Kalamkari print.
Kalamkari motifs draw heavily on temple architecture, and scenes from the great epics. The tree of life is a recurring motif used in bed sheets, and wall hangings. This is perhaps because the first kalamkaris are said to have originated in the documenting of stories from the epics narrated by the travelling chitrathas in Andhra Pradesh. This is supposed to have initially been done on crude fabric; with time, it developed into the highly stylized art form that we know it as today.
Kalamkari is characterized by a certain colour combination, which has different figures made using different colours. Thus, Gods are always dyedblue; women yellow, and demons are in red and green.
Religious motifs and religion are as taple of Kalamkari prints. Scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata are extremely popular anong the artisans. Yet, it is nearly impossible to find two Kalamkari prints that look exactly the same. In short, every piece is unique.
Today, Kalamkari has moved out of the realm of wall hangings and bedspreads to sarees, dupattas, dresses and blouses. A kalamkari print showcases the best in Indian traditional and ethnic, with its fine palette of colours and shades.
These Kalamkari dupattas can be teamed up with any dark-coloured salwar kameez. These could even be used as scarves paired with a denim and t-shirt ensemble, in case the t-shirt is of a darker hue.As is evident, the colour and print of both these dupattas are simply other-wordly, and a must for the fashionista.
The dupatta shere combine the best of the traditional and modern.Not exactly made in the Kalamkari style, they nevertheless use kalamkari colours to impart a classic look to any salwar-kameez suit.
Made in the best Kalamkari tradition, these hand-painted dupattas depict the tree of life, and showcase traditional motifs linked to religion and Indian mythology. A beautiful mirror to Indian culture, these elaborate dupattas work best on a plain cotton salwar kameez.
This beautiful depiction of the tree of life can be used either as a dupatta or a light shawl wrap. The colour scheme used here will look best against a solid dark- colored salwar suit or saree.
A modern take on the traditional Kalamkari block, this printed dupatta will look trendy against any kind of solid shade of salwar kameez- light or dark.
Another antique and unique print on a kalamkari dupatta. Most valuable and worth being treasured, this print would look best against a white or fawn salwar -kameez.