The literal meaning of Kalamkari is a painting done by kalam (pen). This art got enriched as it came down from one generation to another. These paintings are made in Andhra Pradesh.
It is hand painted as well as block printing with vegetable dyes applied on cloth. Vegetable dyes are used for colour in the Kalam Kari work.
A small place Sri-Kalahasti is the best known centre of Kalamkari art. This work is also found at Masaulipatnam in Andhra Pradesh.
This art is mainly related to decorating temple interiors with painted cloth panels, which was developed in the fifteenth century under the patronage of Vijaynagar rulers.
Subjects are adopted from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and Hindu religious mythology. This art form is a continuous legacy from father to son.
These paintings are made on cloth. They are very durable and flexible in size and made according to theme. Figures of deities have a very rich border embellishments and were created for the temples. Owing to Muslim rulers in Golconda, the Masulipatnam kalamkari was widely influenced by Persian motifs and designs.
The outlines and main features are done using hand carved blocks. The finer details are later done using the pen. This art was started on garments, bed covers and curtains. The artists use a bamboo or date palm stick pointed at one end with a bundle of fine hair attached to the other end to serve as brush or pen.
The kalamkari dyes are obtained by extracting colours from plant roots, leaves, along with salts of iron, tin, copper, alum, etc.