Kalamkari - Arts

The art of Kalamkari once was called Vrathapani. The new name must have come from the use of the 'kalam', to ink-in the paintings.
This style embraces the world of gods and a crowd of divinities for they were used from ancient times for decorating temple cars during processions or stretched behind temple images as well as being used for giving religious instructions in temples or in outdoor gatherings, the piece being stretched between two palm trees.
The cloth is dipped in harde/karaka fruit/myrobollom solution, for then only will black dye become black.The brushes used are made from bamboo slivers. A fine pointed one is used with a black dye, made from iron filing, to outline the whole painting which often takes weeks to do. Second flat-tipped brush is covered with an old piece of wool blanket used to brush in the natural vegetable dyes, one at a time.
After each colour application, the cloth has to be washed, often in running water, making the whole process laborious and complicated.
The design usually has a main central panel and is surrounded by smaller blocks arranged in rows, beneath which, written in black ink, are verses from original texts to transcribe the legend. This was a family vocation, so all members from childhood had to be well versed in the scriptures and legends before they were able to create the Kalamkari.