Art & Craft

kalamkari_artwork.jpgAndhra Pradesh produces a rare and beautiful array of silk and cotton textiles.  
The 'ikat' textiles Andhra Pradesh, especially of Pochampalli and Chirala are equally attractive. The lovely Pochampalli sari is a specialty of the region.  

Ikat is the extraordinary silk fabric woven throughout Central Asia. Each strand is individually dyed, then woven into stunning, vibrant patterns which are recognized from village to village. Ikat for our name because it symbolizes the strength, beauty and resilience of the people of Central Asia.

Also popular are vividly colored saris featuring intricate borders interwoven with gold threads. You'll find the famous art of Kalamkari here. A textile is first woven, and then dipped in a mixture of milk and natural dyes, after which it is designed with a kalam, or pen.  

In Hindi, "Kalam" means pen and"Kari" means work. Fuse the two concepts, and you get Kalamkari, a traditional art form where artists paint using specially crafted pens made of Bamboo. Using colored dyes made of natural pigments and extracts, this intricate art form can be widely seen on saris, drapes, hand towels and wall hangings.  

At the heart of Kalamkari art is the "Kalam", or the "bamboo pen". After a basic design is traced out, the kalam is used with vegetable dyes to create paintings that flaunt intricate designs to a backdrop of vivid, bright and cheerful colors.

It is said that Kalamkari art evolved 3000 years ago in Andhra Pradesh. The earlier manifestation of Kalamkari dwelled on themes relevant to Mahabharata and Ramayana. However, since 1950, Kalamkari art has witnessed a modernization of sorts with the incorporation of new themes that are influenced by Persian motifs, Hindu mythology and religion.  

Kalamkari has much to do with religion. In ancient times, groups of Kalamkari artists sat near temples and painted cloths that illustrated scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana, with text explaining the sketch. These cloths were primarily used as holy canopies. As time went by, more themes were added to Kalamkari's repertoire, but even today the paintings borrow heavily from Hindu mythology. The infusion of new themes has led Kalamkari to transcend all religions a series of painting is known to relate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Before 1950, Kalamkari art almost died because it was heavily ignored. However, the concoction and infusion of new themes ever since have given it a new lease of life. Today, fashion designers and art galleries are warming up to Kalamkari because of its wide acceptability and heavy demand. The government has led the revival of this art form by sponsoring institutions in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat that produce Kalamkari paintings.  

So, if your eyes happen to fall on an intricate and colorful painting of Rama prancing away with Sita, just assume its Kalamkari. 

Visual arts like the fascinating creations by artisans from Nirmal flourish in Andhra Pradesh.

Andhra Pradesh Tourist Attractions

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