Kalamkari from Srikalahasti, Andhra Pradesh

Kalamkari refers to an ancient method of hand painting on cotton or silk with a bamboo pen, using natural dyes. The word Kalamkari is derived from a Persian word refers ‘kalam’ as pen and ‘kari’ as craftsmanship. The process of making Kalamkari involves more than twenty distinct steps, from the natural process of bleaching the fabric, softening, scouring, sun drying, preparing natural dyes, hand painting, to the processes of air drying and washing. The entire procedure requires precision and a great eye for detail. Kalamkari art primarily uses natural dyes; myrobalam, indigo, rustic iron for black, madder roots for red that are extracted from natural sources. Whilst this art of painting is done in several parts of India, it is today most prominent in Srikalahasti, a town in the state of Andhra Pradesh, serving as a prime source of livelihood for many artisans over the generations.