The Irani-Indian art of Kalamkari

Popularized in India by Persians, Kalamkari or Qalamkari is the art of hand-painting or block-printing of cotton textiles. The name Qalamkari has originated in Persia, which literally means drawing with a pen as qalam means pen and kari means craftsmanship.

Process of Kalamkari

These intricate patterns are created using only natural dyes. The cotton fabric to be used is soaked in astringent and buffalo milk and is then sun-dried. Cow dung is used for natural bleaching. Fresh cow dung is mixed with water in a mud pot and the clothes are mixed in it nicely so that each and every corner of the cloth absorbs the cow dung mixture solution. It is then squeezed loosely and kept it on the floor overnight.

Next day early morning, these pieces are taken to the pond and each piece is beaten on a stone while washing. After that the pieces are spread on grass and water is sprayed on the cloth with some interval till afternoon. If there is sufficient water in a pond with fungal leaves floating then the cloth can even be spread on the fungal leaves for drying. In the evening, all the cloth pieces are collected from the pond, and the cloth is kept on the sand for the night. The next morning again the beating and spreading process is repeated and after drying the cloth is ready for myrabalam process.
Myrabalam process: Myrabalam seeds are powdered and soaked in water for one day.
The ready cloth pieces are dipped one by one in the juice extracted.
This process has to be done carefully so that all the threads of the cloth absorb the juice evenly and are squeezed properly and then dried in sun.
Printing process: Printing is done by using wooden blocks and vegetable colors made by using a  mordant name Alum and black color from iron jaggery and saltwater.
Washing: The printed cloth is washed in flowing water in a big pond.
The canal must have sand underneath the water. If not then the print will get smudged and the damage cannot be controlled.
Canal washing needs a rope to hang the cloth pieces in water otherwise the cloth will float away with the flowing water.

 

Boiling: The cloth is now boiled in a copper vessel using leaves, barks, and dry flowers, etc

Starch applying: Rice starch is applied for getting stiffness for the second printing.

Second color printing/painting: The second color pinks, yellows, greens, and blues are printed in this process.

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