The tradition of cloth painting known as kalamkari flourished throughout India from 14th century long before chemical colors and dyes were discovered. The dyes used even today in kalamkari follow mostly the tradition of entracting color from plants, roots, parts of trees, leaves, flowers and similar natural growth. Colors are also made from minerals like iron, coal, and compounds like vegetable dye and earth colors. The most important places producing kalamkari are ‘masulipatnam’ and ‘sri kala hasthi’ in andra pradesh. The art is also alive in tanjore district in tamil nadu.
SRI KALHASTHI STYLE OF KALAMKARI: Kala hasthi near temple town of tirupathi north of madras is an anchient centre which developed this craft around places of pilgrimage. The function of temple kalamkari was to narrate theme dreams from Indian mythology. Sometimes they described a single episode. The whole sweep of a great epic dream in strong outline in black and brown. Only kalams made of bamboo is used for painting the line work. Illustrated epics from legends the story was pictured and printed together to reveal the story . No two pannels are ever alike. For kalamkari drawings rough cotton cloth are used mostly in rectangular pieces.
MASIPATNAM STYLE OF KALAMKARI: The hand painted ‘palam pores’ are famous. The method of painting resist dyes on cotton was familiar in India as well as Iran for centuries. The palampores are used for curtains, bed sheets, mats, pillow covers, table cloth etc. The motifs are the tree of life, geometrical designs etc. From a distance the palampores looks like kashmiri embroidery because of their fine quality. The colors are harmonal and never gaudy and harsh. There is lot of persian influence on the design. The beautiful traditional designs mainly with perssian motifs have been used in masulipatnam for many years. However before the revival of this art some of the best designs lay hidden in the dark corners in the homes of old craftman. The designs which appear again and again in the palampore is the tree of life symbolizing the sacred mount complete with birds and branches. Animals resting under its shade. This tree is said to symbolize the linking of earth to heaven.
The process is very much the same as used for the batic work. Resist dying for outline of the design is applied with method. Wax with the steel brush and the hand woven material dyed in a very soft pink. The fabric is deepered and finally is washed in hot water to melt away the wax. Nowdayz chemical colors are also used instead of vegetable colors.
Kalamkari is also done in small quantities in rajasthan, gujrat, orissa, madurai etc. Resist dyeing in the earth color tradition revives today in many villages in gujrat, katiawar, rajasthan and central India. From harappa and moha judai encanation it is quite evident that the art of modeent dyeing and printing was known in India ever then.
Checkout some kalamkari print sarees at http://www.utsavsarees.com/pages/search.asp?keyword=printed+sarees