Kalamkari represents a unique art of painting cotton fabrics with a kalam i.e. pen, which is generally done using a sharp, pointed pierced bamboo which regulates the flow of colour on the canvass/fabric. The name Kalamkari originates from two Persian words, namely qalam (pen) and kari (craftsmanship), and literally this expression means drawing with a pen.
Kalamkari is an art that boasts of a glorious history. It is a highly popular form of hand-painted or block-printed cotton textile art and painting, practiced in Andhra Pradesh. The major forms of Kalamkari art are Srikalahasti Kalamkari of Chittoor district, and Machilipatnam Kalamkari made in Krishna district. The brilliant effulgence of colours and the characters used in this art, that emerges on cotton fabric, helps in creating a wonderful, resplendent spread.
Kalamkari art is considered unique as it uses rich, classic colors as a vibrant medium for portraying mythological characters from epics, in the form of paintings. The popularity of the exquisite Kalamkari paintings crossed the shores of India, during the 17th and 18th centuries. Srikalahasti and Machilipatnam are the hubs of Kalamkari activity. Kalamkari colors are usually extracted from vegetable dyes. There are themes like Kalamkari leitmotifs comprising different forms of lotus flowers, parrots, the cartwheel, along with interlacing patterns of leaves and flowers and many more which are used to depict the paintings and textile prints, apart from the characteristic designs inspired by Hindu epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata