Sarees are my passion
Sarees are my passion

Ethnic Indian Sarees :: Kalamkari Sarees and Fabric

Written by: Bindu Lakshmi, edited by: Kiran Kankipati
Published: 17-Mar-2017

 

India has a rich heritage of art and crafts which is mirrored in textiles, the origin of Indian textiles can be traced to the Indus valley civilization, the art which was astonishing in recent past was Kalamkari, also known as qalamkari. The name ancestry roots back in Persian from the word 'qalam' referring 'pen' and 'kari' known as 'craftsmanship', in general which means drawing with a pen. This type of hand-painted or block-printed was created on mediums such as cottons and silk textiles and was produced in India and Iran, which was much of demand across the globe. This traditional art is known for richness of colors, intricacy, design and mild blowing patterns, the temple town known as Srikalahasti is the major centre for hand-painted Kalamkari in India.

Indian Kalamkari art form exist in two distinctive styles:

  • Srikalahasti style
  • Machilipatnam style

Srikalahasti style is a variant of Kalamkari work also called as Hindu version is a gorgeous piece of art, draws inspiration from the Hindu mythology describing scenes from the epics and folklore. Srikalahasti style is used mostly to narrate and tell stories of religious myths and epics stories on the fabric. Motifs painted on this fabric are the story-boards, depicting scenes from the epics of Mahabharata, Bhagvad Gita (Mahabharata), Ramayana, Indian god and goddesses like Lord Ganesh, Vishnu, Parvati, Shri Jaganath, Buddha, Krishna (Raas-Leela), Indian temples, etc indicates the vibrancy of this craft and celebrations of Indian culture by adding rich colors.

Srikalahasti is a holy town in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh state and southeastern coast of the country, India. The temple town is a combination of traditions, customs, myths and folklore, which is famous in Srikalahasti shrine, Srikalahasti Temple is also regarded as Rahu-Ketu kshetra and Dakshina Kasi. The deity Srikalahasteeswara(Shiva) is situated in banks of fast flowing river Swarnamukhi. Swarnamukhi river only clean water flows, that is the reason the art flourished here. Both Cotton and silk medium is used for Kalamkari art.

Kalamkars use tamarind twig as pen to sketch beautiful motifs. Colors used in Kalamkari sarees are extracted from natural sources with no use of chemicals and artificial dyes. Often primary colors are used such as earthy colors like rust, black, indigo, mustard, green, pale white, etc. Mineral salts of iron, tin, copper and alum mustard(yellow) is derived by boiling pomegranate peels. Craftsmen extract black color by blending jaggery, blue is obtained from indigo and green is derived by mixing yellow and blue together. It takes around a week or couple of months to complete one saree based on the designs and patterns. The pallu is hand-painted with paisley motifs and the remaining part of the saree is plain, which enhances the entire look.

You can wear these colorful handcrafted Srikalahasti style kalamkari sarees for board meetings, art festivals, Raas (Dandiya Raas), temples, etc. If you love art or a statement piece collector than you should grab one of these in your wardrobe. Since they use more natural colors on both either cotton or silk medium, do a mild detergent wash, optionally starch and steam press ironing.
sarees are my passion Kalamkari Srikalahasti saree

Here is yet another Srikalahasti style kalamkari saree from my closet depicting various avataras(descent) of Lord Vishnu such as Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Vamana, Narasimha, etc.
sarees are my passion Kalamkari Srikalahasti saree2


Machilipatnam style involves vegetable dyed block-painting of a fabric, Mughal Dynasty and practiced by Golconda Sultanate. Different textile products produced from this style of work include, wall hangings and clothing like, bedsheets, curtains, saris.
sarees are my passion Kalamkari Machilipatnam dupatta


Origins: During Mughals and the Golconda sultanate Machilipatnam style evolved. The place Pedana near by Machilipatnam in Krishna district, Andra Pradesh, India, Machilipatnam Kalamkari is being crafted. Which rich and natural colors. The Pen (kalam) is being used as to represent free art form of a subject and then later filled with colors. This is entirely hand worked. Thus represents Srikalahasti style. The Art, Flowers and Paintings Inspired across the temples are being inspired and represented by young articians. His style flowered around temples and their patronage and so had an almost religious identity - scrolls, temple hangings, chariot banners, deities and scenes taken from the Hindu epics - Ramayana, Mahabarata, Puranas and the mythological classics.

Kalamkari Applique work: A story or a theme is being narrated in the form of patch art called Applique. Applique art dates back centuries ago, Applique work is one of the oldest forms of design in the world and still are used across the globe. Applique is a art decorating one fabric to other which includes Layering, patching, applying. What I noticed is that, they use straight stitch or running stitch, these two are very commonly used stitches practiced while attaching Applique patches on a base fabric.

Applique work is used extensively in quilting. You can see in my portrait, yellow cotton saree, this meticulous piece of art called 'Kalamkari Applique work' (machine embroidered applique) I feel like I'm standing in an art gallery, I loved the art involved in it, its makes me fascinating! This exquisite art work can be created in fabrics, plastics, metals, paper etc.
sarees are my passion kalamkari applique work on cotton saree

Exploring varies types of applique work are machine embroidered applique, electronic die-cut machine applique, free-standing applique, shadow applique, Trapunto & quilting appliques, lace shaping & Madeira applique, traditional applique, hand applique, contemporary and abstract applique and art quilting applique. Kalamkari Applique work sarees, this piece of art compliments with tarnished silver neckline or earings If you are an artist and want to represent who you are than, this is the right saree to pick and create 'bold style statement'!

Here is a video below, which showcases beautifully crafted Kalamkari applique work done on a fabric


Celebration of Indian Culture
In Ancient days people used to wander from place to place or from village to village and they used to carry stories, now this art form is being represented in the form of "Art" named Kalamkari, were stories are Inspired from varies epics - Ramayana, Mahabarata, Puranas and the mythological classics. Centuries ago, folk singers and painters used to wander from one village to other, narrating stories of Hindu mythology to the village people. But with course of time, the process of telling tales transformed into canvas painting and that’s when Kalamkari art first saw the light of day.

Kalamkari products
Kalamkari fabrics are not just limited to sarees and wall art, but have ventured to modern market trends showcasing a wide variety of products from Kalamkari dress materials, Kalamkari sarees, Kalamkari skirts, Kalamkari kurta for men and women, Kalamkari sling Bag, Kalamkari fabric bangles, kalamkari dupatta, Kalamkari designer blouses, Kalamkari shoulder bags, Kalamkari Paintings, kalamkari umbrellas, Kalamkari jewelry, Kalamkari stoles, Kalamkari scarfs, Kalamkari palazzo pants, Kalamkari bed spreads, Kalamkari earrings, Kalamkari patch border, Kalamkari lampshades, Kalamkari curtains, Kalamkari coffee mug and Kalamkari wedding cards, these are few seen ones.

Fabric care for Kalamkari cotton sarees
Do check out for specific care instructions on the garment once you purchase and follow the instructions carefully, it addition to it, here are certain guidelines

  • Dry cleaning is generally preferred
  • If washing these sarees at home, never soak these sarees, color might slightly bleed especially on darker tones
  • Use only mild detergent to wash
  • Never squeeze or wring the fabric
  • Never brush or lash the cotton saree, this would lead to tearing of the fabric or a zari
  • One can starch these colorful sarees as well
  • Dry them under the shade, away from harsh sunlight
  • Iron the fabric on reverse side, keep the heat medium-low and use a spray bottle to dampen the fabric they are ready to go
  • Dry fabric completely before storing, use wooden hangers to store the sarees



References:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalamkari
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Srikalahasti
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appliqu%C3%A9
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawaiian_quilt



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Sarees are my passion - v2.28 :: Updated: 02-Sep-2017 :: © 2017 :: Author: Bindu Lakshmi