'Kalamkari' narrative cloth
Kalamkari is a composite word in which 'kalam' means pen in reference to the drawing that is integral to the technique and 'kari' means work, hence pen work. ' Kalamkari' is found exclusively on cotton, with the pattern obtained by dye, rather than loom or needle. Ochre is one of the few colours cotton takes on easily, and for the range of other colours the fabric had to be initially treated with mordant (a substance that fixed the colour). 'Kalamkari' textiles are used for hangings, as wrappings and covers, and in costumes. The designs can be floral, figural, or narrative as in this example, perhaps a temple hanging illustrating the Hindu classic the Ramayana. The design on this cloth, made by a master artist in Andhra Pradesh in the 1970s, is arranged in three horizontal registers or bands, each band with an inscription in Telugu.
Asian Art Department, AGNSW, October 2010.