Kalamkari Art Designs – The Evolution

Kalamkari art form traces its origins way back 2500 years to Iran (Persia then). The name depicts Kari (craftwork) using kalam (pen). It can be hand-painted or block-printed on cotton fabric.

Over time, trade became the most important factor in creation of demand for exotic art forms. Traders brought their cultural influence to the designs in order to satisfy global market needs and in turn helped in the spread and the development of the artform.

Kalamkari art designs gained prominence in ancient India as a storytelling medium. Hindu Mythology is full of interesting stories of gods and their miracles or kings and their iconic wars or heroic tales of a common man. Storytellers back then used to draw characters and scenes on a piece of cloth using vegetable dyes and display them while singing out the narrative, describing the epics of Ramayana, Mahabharata, Hindu deities and so on. Now you know how these tales spread across miles without any technology in play.

Kalamkari Art Designs - Story Telling

We humans are instinctively communicative and creative beings. Not only have we adapted to conditions on earth but also have tried to beautify our lives in whatever ways we can. As a result, so many art forms have taken birth out of our creative minds like Kalamkari.

Though the style of Kalamkari art designs and handicrafts came about as a storytelling medium, it took its own shape in different regions according to the demand and the cultural influence via trade and commerce in the Medieval Period.

Some of the major styles of Kalamkari Art that developed and became popular were:

1) Srikalahasti Style

Srikalahasti Temple in Andhra Pradesh is a popular pilgrimage site for Hindus dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple gained importance under Pallava rulers (6th -9th century AD). It was further expanded during Cholas (9th -13th Century AD) and Vijayanagara Empire (14th – 17th century AD). During those days, the paintings done on cloth were used as background or canopies to the God’s statues. Paintings usually were related to Hindu religion or nature. This style was done purely by free hand drawing using a bamboo stick with a hair-thin tip dipped in vegetable dyes.

Kalamkari Art Designs - Srikalahasti Style

2) Machlipatnam Style

Machlipatnam was a port city during the medieval period of 15th -17th century AD. Machlipatnam style was an amalgamation of local motifs and cultural influence from Persia and Europe from where a lot of trade use to happen. So, the style was more global and wasn’t constrained by religion or mythology. They were more inclined towards patterns and shapes with respect to depicting flora and fauna including human figures. This technique included printing of bigger motifs on cloth with hand-carved traditional blocks and then painting the intricate details by hands.

Kalamkari Art Designs - Machlipatnam Style

Technique behind the art

The basic process flow of making Kalamkari Textiles involves the following steps:

Kalamkari Art Designs - Technique

Kalamkari in today's world

Today we come across Kalamkari in its pure form as bedsheets, curtains, bags, sarees, dress materials. An art which adorned the temples in olden times has come to our own homes in different forms and shapes. Artforms like Kalamkari have started gaining more and more popularity in recent times because of their no-chemical process of creating printed textiles. The start to finish process of this art involves use of vegetable dyes, fruit powder and minerals like iron to produce colors and paint, on an organic cotton cloth. Increasingly, people in the world are moving towards lesser use of chemicals in their lives and thus, anything organic and vegan is a preferred commodity for consumption in today’s world.

Most popular of Kalamkari’s use today is in making sarees. Saree is the most beloved attire for an Indian woman. Despite many of us adopting western ways of dressing nowadays, a handcrafted saree is still a treasured and cherished outfit for most Indian women.

Kalamkari Art Designs - Sarees

Home Décor has been another major user of this artform. Imagine a minimalistic living room, a white couch with a Kalamkari cushion to add color and ethnic highlight to it!

Kalamkari Art Designs - Home Decor

If not that, why not just carry a piece of this art on you as an accessory. The muted colors of this art work best for professional environments. Yet it adds a fusion touch to your outfit.

Why wait for that perfect art piece to show up in an art exhibition and crave to own it rather just pick up your smartphone and get started on making it yourself.


Go to Zwende. It is a solution to the art cravings in you. Zwende collaborates with designers and artisans to give this 2500 years’ old artform another life and makes it easily accessible to the world, through the digital medium. You can design your own Kalamkari bag in your own vision and in your favorite colors. Instead of a bamboo stick you just need your fingers to put this art on a bag and get it delivered right to your home.

Kalamkari Art Designs - Zwende

Zwende brings you closer to owning an authentically handcrafted Kalamkari bag of your choice from the villages of Andhra. You can choose the size, shape, faux leather color, fabric design and visualize your own piece of art before adding it to the cart. Within days you will find that creation in your mailbox ready to be a part of your everyday life.

So, what are you guys waiting for? Get yourself your own Zwende Kalamkari art today.