Ethnic Indian Sarees :: Kalamkari Sarees and Fabric

India has a rich heritage of art and crafts which is mirrored in textiles, the origin of Indian textiles can be traced to the Indus valley civilization, the art which was astonishing in recent past was Kalamkari, also known as qalamkari. The name ancestry roots back in Persian from the word 'qalam' referring 'pen' and 'kari' known as 'craftsmanship', in general which means drawing with a pen. This type of hand-painted or block-printed was created on mediums such as cottons and silk textiles and was produced in India and Iran, which was much of demand across the globe. This traditional art is known for richness of colors, intricacy, design and mild blowing patterns, the temple town known as Srikalahasti is the major centre for hand-painted Kalamkari in India.

Indian Kalamkari art form exist in two distinctive styles:

  • Srikalahasti style
  • Machilipatnam style

Srikalahasti style is a variant of Kalamkari work also called as Hindu version is a gorgeous piece of art, draws inspiration from the Hindu mythology describing scenes from the epics and folklore. Srikalahasti style is used mostly to narrate and tell stories of religious myths and epics stories on the fabric. Motifs painted on this fabric are the story-boards, depicting scenes from the epics of Mahabharata, Bhagvad Gita (Mahabharata), Ramayana, Indian god and goddesses like Lord Ganesh, Vishnu, Parvati, Shri Jaganath, Buddha, Krishna (Raas-Leela), Indian temples, etc indicates the vibrancy of this craft and celebrations of Indian culture by adding rich colors.

Srikalahasti is a holy town in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh state and southeastern coast of the country, India. The temple town is a combination of traditions, customs, myths and folklore, which is famous in Srikalahasti shrine, Srikalahasti Temple is also regarded as Rahu-Ketu kshetra and Dakshina Kasi. The deity Srikalahasteeswara(Shiva) is situated in banks of fast flowing river Swarnamukhi. Swarnamukhi river only clean water flows, that is the reason the art flourished here. Both Cotton and silk medium is used for Kalamkari art.

Kalamkars use tamarind twig as pen to sketch beautiful motifs. Colors used in Kalamkari sarees are extracted from natural sources with no use of chemicals and artificial dyes. Often primary colors are used such as earthy colors like rust, black, indigo, mustard, green, pale white, etc. Mineral salts of iron, tin, copper and alum mustard(yellow) is derived by boiling pomegranate peels. Craftsmen extract black color by blending jaggery, blue is obtained from indigo and green is derived by mixing yellow and blue together. It takes around a week or couple of months to complete one saree based on the designs and patterns. The pallu is hand-painted with paisley motifs and the remaining part of the saree is plain, which enhances the entire look.

You can wear these colorful handcrafted Srikalahasti style kalamkari sarees for board meetings, art festivals, Raas (Dandiya Raas), temples, etc. If you love art or a statement piece collector than you should grab one of these in your wardrobe. Since they use more natural colors on both either cotton or silk medium, do a mild detergent wash, optionally starch and steam press ironing.
sarees are my passion Kalamkari Srikalahasti saree

Here is yet another Srikalahasti style kalamkari saree from my closet depicting various avataras(descent) of Lord Vishnu such as Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Vamana, Narasimha, etc.
sarees are my passion Kalamkari Srikalahasti saree2

Machilipatnam style involves vegetable dyed block-painting of a fabric, Mughal Dynasty and practiced by Golconda Sultanate. Different textile products produced from this style of work include, wall hangings and clothing like, bedsheets, curtains, saris.
sarees are my passion Kalamkari Machilipatnam dupatta

Origins: During Mughals and the Golconda sultanate Machilipatnam style evolved. The place Pedana near by Machilipatnam in Krishna district, Andra Pradesh, India, Machilipatnam Kalamkari is being crafted. Which rich and natural colors. The Pen (kalam) is being used as to represent free art form of a subject and then later filled with colors. This is entirely hand worked. Thus represents Srikalahasti style. The Art, Flowers and Paintings Inspired across the temples are being inspired and represented by young articians. His style flowered around temples and their patronage and so had an almost religious identity - scrolls, temple hangings, chariot banners, deities and scenes taken from the Hindu epics - Ramayana, Mahabarata, Puranas and the mythological classics.

Kalamkari Applique work: A story or a theme is being narrated in the form of patch art called Applique. Applique art dates back centuries ago, Applique work is one of the oldest forms of design in the world and still are used across the globe. Applique is a art decorating one fabric to other which includes Layering, patching, applying. What I noticed is that, they use straight stitch or running stitch, these two are very commonly used stitches practiced while attaching Applique patches on a base fabric.

Applique work is used extensively in quilting. You can see in my portrait, yellow cotton saree, this meticulous piece of art called 'Kalamkari Applique work' (machine embroidered applique) I feel like I'm standing in an art gallery, I loved the art involved in it, its makes me fascinating! This exquisite art work can be created in fabrics, plastics, metals, paper etc.
sarees are my passion kalamkari applique work on cotton saree

Exploring varies types of applique work are machine embroidered applique, electronic die-cut machine applique, free-standing applique, shadow applique, Trapunto & quilting appliques, lace shaping & Madeira applique, traditional applique, hand applique, contemporary and abstract applique and art quilting applique. Kalamkari Applique work sarees, this piece of art compliments with tarnished silver neckline or earings If you are an artist and want to represent who you are than, this is the right saree to pick and create 'bold style statement'!

* Click the image above to watch this video on Youtube ↗

Celebration of Indian Culture
In Ancient days people used to wander from place to place or from village to village and they used to carry stories, now this art form is being represented in the form of "Art" named Kalamkari, were stories are Inspired from varies epics - Ramayana, Mahabarata, Puranas and the mythological classics. Centuries ago, folk singers and painters used to wander from one village to other, narrating stories of Hindu mythology to the village people. But with course of time, the process of telling tales transformed into canvas painting and that’s when Kalamkari art first saw the light of day.

Kalamkari products
Kalamkari fabrics are not just limited to sarees and wall art, but have ventured to modern market trends showcasing a wide variety of products from Kalamkari dress materials, Kalamkari sarees, Kalamkari skirts, Kalamkari kurta for men and women, Kalamkari sling Bag, Kalamkari fabric bangles, kalamkari dupatta, Kalamkari designer blouses, Kalamkari shoulder bags, Kalamkari Paintings, kalamkari umbrellas, Kalamkari jewelry, Kalamkari stoles, Kalamkari scarfs, Kalamkari palazzo pants, Kalamkari bed spreads, Kalamkari earrings, Kalamkari patch border, Kalamkari lampshades, Kalamkari curtains, Kalamkari coffee mug and Kalamkari wedding cards, these are few seen ones.

Fabric care for Kalamkari cotton sarees
Do check out for specific care instructions on the garment once you purchase and follow the instructions carefully, it addition to it, here are certain guidelines

  • Dry cleaning is generally preferred
  • If washing these sarees at home, never soak these sarees, color might slightly bleed especially on darker tones
  • Use only mild detergent to wash
  • Never squeeze or wring the fabric
  • Never brush or lash the cotton saree, this would lead to tearing of the fabric or a zari
  • One can starch these colorful sarees as well
  • Dry them under the shade, away from harsh sunlight
  • Iron the fabric on reverse side, keep the heat medium-low and use a spray bottle to dampen the fabric they are ready to go
  • Dry fabric completely before storing, use wooden hangers to store the sarees

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Andhra pradesh (and Telangana)

Pochampally Sarees and Fabric
Pochampally Sarees and Fabric

Pochampally sarees are sheer delight for women! Magnificent Pochampally saree is called by varies names such as Pogudubandhu or Pochampalli Ikat, is a saree crafted in Bhoodan Pochampally, Yadadri Bhuvanagiri district, Telangana State, India. Pochampally, the village was renamed to Bhoodan Pochampally. This small traditional handloom village magnificently showered and surrounded by hills, lush green fields, temples, Pochampally makes up for an exciting destination to spend one’s heart. This village is around 45Km away from Hyderabad.Telangana is one of the ancient Ikat weaving centers in India.Pochampally Ikat sarees was mainly popularized during 80's.Pochampally silk saree boasts of blending comfort and popularly known as tie and dye weave, one can see century old traditional looms here.

Chirala Cotton and Silk Sarees

A Coastal town, situated in Prakasam District in the state of Andhra Pradesh called Chirala, this town was also known as 'Kshirapuri'. Chirala town is renowned for handlooms. Years passed by, the town gained popularity for its excellent handloom sarees known for the softness and durability. The name Chirala means saree in Telugu and so eventually the name of the town got transformed to Chirala. Main occupation of this village is handloom weaving and paddy cultivation.

The weavers of Chirala produce, cotton sarees, seico sarees which are a fine blend of cotton and silk fibres and kuppadam(Gadwal type), Generally in Chirala they use 'Fly shuttle loom' is been used. Handloom fabrics of Chirala are soft and most comfortable to wear which suites all the climate, hand butta is another fascinating design feature of Chirala sarees, where colours are manually added in-between the zari design. This artistic lineage is carried forward by the weavers belonging to areas like Devanga, Padmasali and Pattusali community of weavers community.

Venkatagiri Cotton and Silk Sarees

Venkatagiri sarees or Rajamatha sarees.

Venkatagiri is a small town situated in Nellore district, Andhra pradesh state, India. History of venkatagiri sarees dates back to 1700s, during the rule of Venkatagiri, the masterweaver handcrafted these sarees, specially curated for queens, royal ladies and zamindaris. these sarees were purchased for such handsome amounts that the weavers could survive with that sum of money for almost a year until they got their next order. Exclusive designs were made by the weavers on special order for the upper class only. Much of a boost and encouragement given to these sarees, by the Velugoti dynasty of Nellore and also by the Bobbili and Pithapuram dynasties, back then.

Kalamkari Sarees and Fabric
Kalamkari Sarees and Fabric

Kalamkari or qalamkari is a type of hand-painted or block-printed on a Cotton Textile or Silk Textile. Produced in India, Iran. The Name Originates in Persian, from the words qalam (pen) and kari (craftsmanship), meaning drawing with a pen.

Guntur Sarees

The finest spicy Grandmother's attire, nostalgic saree!

Each thread narrates of a story that weaves into a magical saree, red hot Guntur city lies on the south eastern side of Hyderabad in Guntur district of Indian, state of Andhra Pradesh. This city residents are referred as Gunturians, purest forms of the language can be heard here is Telugu(regional language), English and Hindi are widely spoken as well. One can see largest Asian market for red chillies here, this place is main producer and renowned globally for exporting of most varieties of Chillies and chilli powder from India to countries like USA, UK, Latin America, Middle East, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and South Korea. Majority of Indians a dish lacking in spice or without chillies is unfathomable. Andhra cuisine is famous for its extremely good dishes and the chilli responsible for this is the Guntur Sannam(Capsicum annuum)that's the secret behind Andra spicy dishes. If you are in Guntur, than one should not leave the city without tasting authentic super spicy Guntur’s famous "Red chilli biryani", I can say, taste buds on fire! Guntur is also famous for Gongura pickle (Roselle is a plant) the leaf is used for pickling, writing about food oh my goodness I go crazy, it's a never endling story, lets see now about saree.

Gadwal Cotton and Silk Sarees (Kupadam or Kumbbam sarees)
Gadwal Cotton and Silk Sarees (Kupadam or Kumbbam sarees)

The Empire of south, traditional handloom Gadwal sarees

I was listening to "Keith Urban-Little Bit Of Everything" how pleasant it is ha? I want little bit gold, earthy cotton and lavish silk of everything, flashed me glorious Gadwal saree, which has little bit of everything! Gadwal a place known for harmonious coexistence of the cultures, situated between the rivers 'Tungabhadra' and 'Krishna' of Mahbubnagar district, Telangana state, India. Gadwal is one of the popular historical places to visit around Hyderabad. Gadwal fort or Nalla somanadri fort, built during 17th century by the gadwal ruler Peda Soma Bhupaludu(Somanadri) is a cultural heritage landmark. Gadwal fort was constructed with huge walls and moats around the fort which made the Gadwal fort very strong and impregnable since its construction with huge walls all around, this fort has three ancient temples namely Sri Chennakesava swamy temple, Sri Venugopala swamy temple, Sri Ramalayam and Sri Chennakesava temple is grand with large temple tower, stone mandapa and beautiful carvings.

Narayanpet Sarees
Narayanpet Sarees

The Gods, Goddesses and Narayanpet sarees

This Beautiful small little town is renowned for exclusive splendid handloom silk and cotton sarees, Narayanpet in Mahbubnagar district, Telangana state, India. Primary source of income for people here is from weaving sarees. This charming place is extremely hot in summer and cold in winter. Since it's a business hub for sarees people known many regional languages such as Telugu, Kannada, Urdu, Marathi and of course English as well. Narayanpet sarees is known for its durability, affordability and lower maintainance. In this modern age of Indo-western twist and fast fashion outfits, Narayapet saree still remains classy.

Mangalagiri Cotton and Silk Sarees
Mangalagiri Cotton and Silk Sarees

Mangalagiri Sarees and Fabrics are produced by performing handicraft weaving in Mangalagiri, a town in Guntur district of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.Mangalgiri was always known for its pilgrimage importance because of the famous temple of Lord Panakala Narasimha Swamy that is located in the heart of the town. Mangalgiri located 12 kms away from Vijayawada. It was registered as one of the handicraft in the geographical indication from Andhra Pradesh by Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, in the year 1999.


Banahatti Cotton Sarees
Banahatti Cotton Sarees

The most simplistic and minimalist hidden weaves from Karnataka is Banahatti Cotton Saree, I just loved the texture of the fabric, it's like linen saree? I don't know what more can I say about this saree. Well it is more deserved to seen in my Youtube video, do check it out!

Ilkal Cotton and Silk Sarees
Ilkal Cotton and Silk Sarees

Contemporary Ilkal sarees goes on a delightful weaves!

The most down to earth yet vibrant colors are seen in traditional attire of Ilkal, Ilkal is a small town, this town is located in the South-East part of Bagalkote district, Karnataka state, India. This place is very hot during the summers but has a pleasant weather during the winters. The language of communication here is Kannada. Ilkal was an ancient weaving centre and known for renowned handloom sarees. The main source of income comes from the 'Red granite' which is exported all around the world, while Ilkal sarees are secondary source of income for the people residing over there since generations. The availability of local raw materials helped in the growth of this saree.

Hubli Cotton Sarees

One of the most traditional sarees which I had seen apart from Ilkal saree is Hubli cotton sarees, due extreme humidity generally localities adore this saree for daily bases. This is one of the simple weaves but I totally in love with this saree, the texture of the saree is so soft due to the high count of cotton yarn used.

Molakalmuru Cotton and Silk Sarees

Ancestral Molakalmuru with a modern twist!

Molakalmuru is a village panchayat town in Chitradurga district,Karnataka state, India. Molakalmuru is best known for its hand-woven silk sarees of exquisite design and craftsmanship It is said Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV (Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar) during his visit to the place in 1914, he appreciated the finesse of these sarees. Molakalmuru means broken knees in Kannada(native regional language), according to a local legend, the town was thus named after a battle between the native Indians and the British, in which due to the rocky and hilly terrain behind the city, the British suffered many broken knees in their losing battle. which surrounds this town. Today it is just a history, historians believe that this name is merely a symbolic reference to the broken pride of the British. World famous for its renowned silk sarees as weaving is the major occupation of the place.

Patteda Anchu handloom cotton Saree

Life to the an­cient looms an exclusive weave Patteda Anchu

I remember and recollect my childhood memories, I was just nutty about cotton sarees and fabrics, not only for comfort but for simplicity. I always love to be seamless in the crowd! My passion grew regardless of the age for hand-loom sarees, today I'm here to share one more simple weave from Karnataka called Patteda Anchu handloom cotton saree.

Traditional hand-loom sarees from Karnataka are Ilkal sarees, Molakalmuru sarees in addition to it Patteda Anchu cotton saree which joins the loop, these simple weaves is from Gajendragarh village in Gadag District.