‘And their Kalam romances the canvas yet again to reproduce the specimens of admirable craftsmanship…’
Andhra Pradesh takes pride in being the melting pot of cultures. It has cradled several forms of arts, dance, music, and traditions that haven’t just chiseled the lives of locals but, presented them a way to sustain most of the rural economy. The finest expression of their artistic brilliance can be observed in a natural artwork called ‘KALAMKARI’.
Back then, in the 13th and 19th century the troop of singers, musicians and painters called ‘Chirakattis’ drifted across parishes of Machilipatnam and Kalahasti (Andhra Pradesh) to perform street plays and earn bread and butter. The stories revolved around folklore saga or personal accounts. Later on, they started staging their ideas by spontaneously painting the canvas using natural dyes and colors. That’s when Kalamkari was originated!
Schools of Kalamkari:
Kalamkari Artwork is bequeathed in 3 styles:
- Sri Kalahasti: Developed in the temple region, Kalahasti Style of Kalamkari is influenced by the themes of Hindu Mythology, Scenes from Classics (Ramayana, Mahabharata), and Images of Deities. ‘Tree of life’ is amongst the favorites.
- Machilipatnam: With the influx of ostentatious Golconda Sultanate, Dutch and Persian Motifs spiked the art form. Also, the kingdom shored up Kalamkari and christened its skilled artisans as ‘Qualamkars’.
- Karrupur: During Maratha rule, the art was developed further in the Thanjavur region where the designs were embellished with the gold brocade work on the organic fabrics. The royal family of Raja Sarfoji and later Raja Shivaji adorned it as sarees & dhotis.
Britishers couldn’t turn away from the artwork replete with exquisiteness, and incorporated it in multifarious ways to garments and furnishings.
With global warming and environmental issues becoming a grave concern, the eco-friendly artwork radiates a sure shot hypnotism on the gazers.
Well, the Qualamkars use natural raw materials as an artistic medium to fabricate Kalamkari articles. ‘Handwoven Fabrics’ like cotton or silk ensures the product is amicable to the skin. ‘Cow Milk and Resin’ are utilized to enhance the fabric’s luster, silkiness and endurance. The alluring motifs and patterns that compel one to walk down the memory lanes of culture & history are created using none other than ‘Ecofabulous Colors & Dyes’ derived out of crushed flowers, seeds, barks, leaves, and the likes. Not to forget, the awe-inspiring preciseness of calligraphic effect is achieved through the ‘Special Pens’ carved out of bamboo reed and their tips sharpened and entwined with wooden rag & cotton thread, respectively.
The lissome fingers of artistes make the artwork seem effortless; however at the back of it, is a lengthy process that demands attention to detail. The end result is a treat to eyes!
Around the 1950s, the rich art went astray due to the negligence. Glorified technology contributed to it, and pulled away our people from their root values that uphold us. Nonetheless, the interest is retrieved back owing to the appreciation of Kalamkari in the international market. Also, the government is helping by arranging workshops to spread the art.
Today, a piece of the valuable art can be taken by each one of us, as the traditional art has seeped in modern day lifestyle products.
- Rishu Jain