Home décor with Kalamkari paintings

Do you love paintings? Decorating the home with a variety of paintings is a common passion among the homemakers. A good painting enhances the beauty of the room to a considerable extent.

India has a rich legacy of paintings and since time immemorial, people have tried to showcase their artistic minds with the brush.

There are numerous traditional paintings getting popular in various parts of the country. Among these traditional paintings, Kalamkari is a popular form of art in the country and

The art of kalamkari (kalam – pen, kari – craft) is one of the oldest genres of painting. The practice of telling a story by painting it on cloth with vegetable dyes and makeshift tools is one that has mesmerized the whole world.

The enhancing effulgence of colours and the characters that emerge on cotton fabric, help create a spectacular spread in such a painting. Kalamkari painting is unique in its use of colour as a medium to depict mythological characters.

Kalahasti and Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh, the nerve centres of this art continue to be beehives of Kalamkari activity. Kalamkari colours are made from vegetable dyes and no chemicals are used whatsoever. In addition to themes from the epics, Kalamkari leitmotifs comprise different forms of the lotus flower, the car wheel, parrots, an interlacing pattern of leaves and flowers.

Kalamkari artists in Andhra Pradesh still practise the original technique. They immerse the textile in resin and milk to create a shiny effect to the product. The revival of this beautiful and intricate art form has seen it being used in high-fashion clothing and home decor. Add a touch of old-world charm to your bedroom or living room with framed kalamkari panels!

This genre of painting has a glorious history. Ages back, folk singers and painters used to roam around from village to village, narrating folklores from Hindu mythology to the villagers. Gradually, the process of storytelling turned into canvas painting and that’s how the Kalamkari painting took roots. This colorful art may be traced back to more than 3000 B.C. But it was during the Mughal rules, when this style of painting got recognition as well as appreciation. The Mughals promoted this art in the Golconda and Coromandel province where skillful craftsmen (known as Qualamkars) used to practice this art, that’s how this art and the word Kalamkari evolved.

Under the Golconda sultanate in Hyderabad, this art flourished at Machilipatnam in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh and further was promoted during the 18th century, as a decorative design on clothing by Britishers in India.

The process of creating Kalamkari painting form involves 23 long steps of dyeing, bleaching, hand painting, block printing, starching, cleaning and even more. Motifs drawn in Kalamkari spans from flowers, peacock, and paisleys to divine characters of Hindu epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana. The artists use ‘tamarind twig’ as pen, to sketch beautiful motifs of Krishna Raas-Leela, Indian god and goddesses like Parvati, Vishnu, Shri Jaganath; designs of peacock, lotus; and scenes from the Hindu epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana.


Cotton fabric used for Kalamkari is first treated with a solution of cow dung and bleach. Then the fabric is kept in this solution for hours that results in a uniform off-white colour of the fabric. Then the fabric is immersed in a mixture of buffalo milk and Myrobalans. Then it is washed under running water to get rid of the odor of buffalo milk. The fabric likewise, is washed as many as 20 times and dried under the sun. Once the fabric is ready for painting, artist’s sketch motifs and designs on the fabric. After this, the Kalamkari artists prepare dyes using natural sources to fill colors within the drawings.

Kalamkari art primarily use earthy colors like indigo, mustard, rust, black and green. Natural dyes used to paint colors in Kalamkari art is extracted for natural sources with no use of chemicals and artificial matter. For instance, craftsmen extract black color by blending jaggery, water and iron fillings which they mainly use for outlining the sketches. While mustard or yellow is derived by boiling pomegranate peels, red hues are created from bark of madder or algirin. Likewise, blue is obtained from indigo and green is derived by mixing yellow and blue together.

There are two styles of Kalamkari paintings in India – Srikalahasti style and Machilipatnam style. In case of the latter, motifs are mainly printed with hand-carved traditional blocks with intricate detailing painted by hands. In case of Srikalahasti style, inspiration isdrawn from the Hindu mythology describing scenes from the epics and folklore. This style has a strong religious tone since this art form originated in the temples.

When you use any Kalamkari painting to adorn your home, make sure you pick the right furniture and accessories too. Balance them with natural wood furnishings, like carved wooden swings, low seating and plenty of pillows. Lamps, decorative figurines, wall art and fixtures should all complement these fabric choices that are rich in color, pattern and texture! A Kalamkari painting in your drawing room will increase the grandeur quotient in your abode. It reflects the glory of the Indian tradition, its deep rooted artistic mind.

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