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Art and Craft

Indian Art and Craft – Kalamkari Printing

Indian Art and Craft – Kalamkari Printing

Kalamkari is an ancient style of hand printing or block printing on cotton textile. Literally Kalam means Pen and Kari means Craftsmanship. This is an art and craft form practiced in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana and about 3000 years old. This craft form is passed on from generations to generations.

The Hindu Mythology, Religious Symbols and Persian Patterns gave a distinctive identification to the Kalamkari designs. The pens used for painting are sharp and pointed, made from bamboo.


There are two styles of Kalamkari in India. They are the Srikalahasti style and Machilipatnam style. Both have unique ways of designs.

The Srikalahasti style is of complete handwork, with a freehand drawing and filling of colours using the pen. This style has many designs inspired from the Hindu Mythology with scenes from Epics.

Machilipatnam style employs vegetable-dyed block printing on a fabric. Printing is done by hand-carved blocks having intricate details and hand printing.

Design Differences

While Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh practice Kalamkari designs, their designs are different. Andhra Pradesh patterns are mainly from forts, palaces and temples. They include animal and bird patterns. Gujarat has taken their designs inspiration from mythological characters. Ramayana and Mahabharata are main sources.

Kalamkari art and craft include floral patterns, animal characters, birds and the colours used are mainly Green, Black, Indigo, Rust and Mustard.


The process of Kalamkari printing involves as much as 23 steps such as Bleaching, Washing, Myrabolum Treatment, Kalamkari, Water Wash, Colour Development, Colour Fixation and Drying.

Traditional Kalamkari printing has gone through many changes and presently taken over by Digital Design and Printing replacing the handwork. Instead of Hand Looms, automated Mechanical Looms are employed for Kalamkari.

Kalamkari paintings are available for sale in all leading exhibitions where Indian Handicrafts items are showcased. They have a huge demand in India as well as other countries.

Picture used for Illustration only: Credit FlickrAnuradha Sengupta

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Born and brought up in Kerala, I did my schooling in Kerala and graduated (B.Sc Physics) from the Calicut University. I have worked with a Swedish Company from 1994 to 2015, as a Senior Project Manager in their Group IT Division in Dubai. This blog is the result of my strong desire to communicate with others, sharing what I know and what I could gather from various sources.


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