Sri Kalahasti Kalamkari

Kalahasti Kalamkari

Done completely by “kalam” this style is entirely hand painted. This style became famous for depicting deities from the Hindu scriptures initially. It also includes intricate flora and fauna designs.

Machilipatnam Kalamkari

Machilipatnam Kalamkari

Influenced by Persian motifs & designs, the outlines and main features are done using hand carved blocks. The finer details are later done using the pen. Mostly used for table linen, lungies, blankets etc.


Kalamkari or Qalamkari, derived from the Persian words ghalam (pen) and kari (craftmanship), is hand-painted or block-printed cotton fabrics, produced in parts of India and Iran. It is believed that Kalamkari originated in India and Persia about 3000 years ago; ancient traders and merchants used Kalamkari paintings as currency to trade spices from Southeast Asia and Indonesia. Historical accounts state that traders from Southeast Asian and Indonesian demanded Indian textile in the form of Kalamkari Paintings for ritual and ceremonial purposes. Kalamkari evolved and flourished during the Mughal rule and was patronized by the Golconda Sultanate. During that time, singers, musicians, and painters travelled around kingdoms narrating stories from Hindu mythology. Over time, they started illustrating these stories on large bolts of canvas, using rudimentary plant dyes. Over the centuries, Kalamkari gained more and more prominence it spread to many parts of the country before finally becoming localized in Srikalahasti and Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

Kalamkari is a word that runs through the history of Indian Textiles from the beginnings as a simple folkcraft through both great and bad times down to its revival today.

While the British showed interest in the art form, it was slowly but steadily declining. Post-independence, in 1957, Kamaladevi Chattopadyaya helped establish a government-run Kalamkari training center to train the next new generation of artists in Kalamkari. While this helped in giving a boost to the craft, due to modernization, growing cost of cotton, and lack of support, the craft started to decline further till 2004.

A few sincere and dedicated designers, NGOs and entrepreneurs like Masterweaver came forward to give Kalamkari a boost and encouraged the craftsmen, improved the designs and medium, educated people on this art form and actively engaged marketing effort as well.

The end result is that Kalamkari fabrics and paintings now enjoy flourishing demand world over.