Saree as a garment has great allure in India. India boasts of some great styles and chic designs in this elegant drape. Kalamkari sarees is one of them. It is a kind of hand-printed or block-printed cotton saree. It looks beautiful and is very comfortable to wear. Kalamkari sarees are extremely popular these days.
The word Kalamkari owes its existence to two Persian words – kalam and kari which mean pen and drawing respectively. Thus Kalamkari implies drawing with a pen. There are two very unique styles of Kalamkari in India. One belongs to the Sri Kalahasti style and the other to the Machilipatnam style, both from Andhra Pradesh. In the Srikalahasti style, the pen is used to draw free hand and then colours are filled in also by hand. All the work is done entirely by hand. Most of the dazzling designs are inspired by Hindu epics and texts of yore. Drawings depicting gods and goddesses, temple scenes, birds like peacocks, mango bootis and those from mythological texts are common. The colours are sharp and the designs exquisite. Smt. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay is owed special credit for popularizing this art form when she was the Chairperson of All India Handicrafts Board.
The Machilipatnam style evolved from Pedama which is close to Machilipatnam in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh. They received patronage from the Mughals and the rulers of the Golconda sultanate. Hence this style has drawings with Islamic influences. Most of the designs depict flora and fauna. The hand-crafted method of drawing, using organic dyes and extensive washing are common to both styles. There are seventeen rigorous steps that a garment undergoes before it evolves into an exclusive Kalamkari saree.
Mostly cotton is used for kalamkari but these days silk is also used. The sheen of the cotton comes from dipping it in cow’s milk and myrabalam (a natural resin)! The dyes used are also natural. Most of the workmen or kalamkars, as they are known, have skills that have been passed on from generation to generation. They painstakingly work at producing an authentic and handcrafted gorgeous creation. Kalamkari patch works are also popular. These sarees are very popular both in India and abroad. They retail in most saree outlets and the latest kalamkari sarees can also be purchased by shopping online. They are easily available in large Indian cities of Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Dubai, UK and US.
Elegant Kalamkari sarees for special occasions are very popular. Kalamkari sarees in South pure cotton are regal and give an glamorous appeal of freshness to the wearer. The contemporary designs are preferred for work wear. Handpainted Chanderi silk Kalamkari sarees are spectacular and suited for grand occasions like weddings, receptions, festive occasions or even lavish parties. These days designer Kalamkari saree collections are also very popular. They have irresistible motifs and lavish work on pallus.
Kalamkari sarees find a place of pride in every Indian woman’s wardrobe!