Kalamkari or Qalamkari is a type of hand-painted or block-printed cotton textile, produced in parts of India. The word is derived from the Persian words kalam (pen) and kari (craftmanship), meaning drawing with a pen.
The craft made at Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh, evolved with patronage of the Mughals and the Golconda sultanat.
There are two distinctive styles of kalamkari art in India – one, the ‘Srikalahasti’ style and the other, the Machalipatnam style of art. The Srikalahasti style of Kalamkari, wherein the “kalam” or pen is used for free hand drawing of the subject, and filling in the colours is entirely hand worked. This style flowered around temples and their patronage, and so had an almost religious identity – scrolls, temple hangings, chariot banners and the like depicted deities and scenes taken from great epics – Ramayana. Mahabarata, Puranas and mythological classics. This style owes its present status to Smt. Kamaladevi Chattopadhayay who popularised the art as the first Chairperson of All India Handicrafts Board. Only natural dyes are used in Kalamkari, and involves seventeen painstaking steps.