KALAMKARI (Traditional Indian Art)





Kalamkari is a traditional Indian art form of hand-painting or block-printing on cloth and derives its name from the word ‘kalam,’ which means pen or brush. Originating from the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Kalamkari painting was first practiced to decorate temple chariots and backgrounds for the idols of Gods.

There are two distinctive styles of Kalamkari art in India—Srikalahasti and Machilipatnam. In the Srikalahasti technique, the ‘kalam’ is used for the freehand drawing of stories from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Purana and other mythologies. In the Machilipatnam style, artists use carved wooden blocks and vegetable dyes to print patterns and motifs onto fabric, including wall hangings, clothing, bedsheets, curtains and saris.

Only natural dyes are used in Kalamkari, in a process that involves 23 meticulous steps. From bleaching, softening and sun drying the fabric to preparing and mixing natural pigments, the entire procedure requires precision and sharp attention to detail. Bamboo slivers are used to outline the entire painting in black dye, and then a flat-tipped brush fills in the vegetable dyes one at a time. After each color application, the cloth is washed. The final colors are exquisite, earthy tones of reds, blues, greens, yellows and browns.

Available at Laasya Art is a curated collection of original Kalamkari paintings from artists whose families have pursued this art form across several generations. They are among some of the finest Kalamkari artists living in India today, and their works are housed internationally in eminent museums and collections around the world. Some of these artists are Padma Shri awardees as well.

You are welcome to buy Kalamkari paintings online or view them at our gallery in Palo Alto (San Francisco Bay Area). All artworks include a certificate of authenticity.

Read more about the history and meticulous process of Kalamkari painting on our blog.

A traditional Kalamkari artist painting with a ‘kalam,’ or bamboo stick.