From the sultry lands of Andhra Pradesh emerges the art of Kalamkari: “Kalam” meaning pen and “kari” meaning craftsmanship. In the days of yore, groups of musicians, singers and artists called “chitrakattis” used large bolts of fabric to depict mythical stories and legends using dyes extracted from plants.
Over the years, these paintings have been styled into sarees and are literally hand-painted drapes of art, painstakingly crafted over 17 steps! The saree is soaked in a mixture of myrobalans and cow milk (to give it a glossy texture) and hand painted with vegetable dyes. The entire process is repeated for every colour. Contours are drawn using a bamboo stick, pointed at one end, and soaked in a mixture of jaggery and water. Natural dye is obtained using cow dung, seeds, plant roots, alum and crushed flowers. After applying each colour on to the motif, the fabric is washed after drying. Alum is also used while treating the fabric as it ensures colour stability. The painting technique lends a distinct odour to the fabric. It takes about 40 days to complete one saree!