andhra Pradesh is famous for many of its textile crafts, one of which is Kalamkari, which means ‘pen-craft’. This style of printing was practiced in coastal deccan and many other places.
Kalamkari, the dye painted and printed exquisite textile symbolically named after the technique of its making, ‘kalam/qualam’ meaning pen and ‘kari’ meaning art, has been prevalent in several parts of southern India since ancient times. referred to as ‘Chintz’ by the english and ‘Pintadoes’ by the Portuguese, Kalamkari was patronized by both Mughals and later by the europeans in India.
Kalamkari fabrics were believed to brighten up with each subsequent wash. The specially prepared cotton fabric was hand drawn with a special pen using mordants as ink. These fabrics were then dyed in natural dyes.
The fabrics printed at Masulipatnam were used as furnishings such as bedspreads, curtains, table cloths etc apart from apparel. In fact these fabrics were so popular in the West, that these were banned by France and england, as it was a threat to their domestic printed fabric industry. These fabrics were also referred to as ‘Palampores’.
Srikalahasti, Masulipatnam, Polavaram and Pedana in andhra Pradesh have been the major centres of this craft.
end use: The fabrics printed at Masulipatnam are used as furnishings such as bedspreads, curtains, table cloths etc apart from apparel like kurtas, saris and dupattas
Contemporary Scenario: The craft gained huge popularity between 16th and 19th centuries. Printed version of Kalamkari became more famous but painted form lost its demand due to changing market preferences, modern techniques, ready availability of chemical dyes and tedious nature of dyeing and painting.
Efforts are made to orient the craftspeople to understand the market demands. apart from cotton, base material like raw silks, chiffon and georgettes etc are also being used now. Motifs have also been contemporised with addition of new natural forms and stylised figures. New colour schemes of pastels, neutrals like brown, beige, maroon etc have been added to the traditional colour story.