Kalamkari refers to a method of painting natural dyes onto cotton or silk fabric with a bamboo pen or kalam. The name kalamkari translates as pen (kalam) work (kari) in Hindi/Urdu, and was most likely derived from trade relationships between Persian and Indian merchants as early as the 10th century CE. European merchants also had names for this type of fabric decoration: the Portugese called it pintado, the Dutch used the name sitz, and the British preferred chintz.
The name kalamkari is used prominently today, and is synonymous with both painted and hand blockprinted textiles that incorporate natural vegetable/organically-derived dye stuffs. While there are many forms of kalamkari throughout India and the world, the focus of this site is on extant kalamkari practice in Sri Kalahasti, Andhra Pradesh, in South India. WASHING/SCOURING CLOTH
Methods for scouring and bleaching of gada cloth vary. Some artists simply immerse gada cloth in cool water over night then beat the wet cloth to remove further impurities.
The following sheep dung treatment for bleaching has been described by some artists, -Gada cotton fabric is scoured by immersing it overnight in a sheep dung/water solution (1 lump of dung for 10 liters of water). * The cloth is exposed to the sun for a day by spreading it on the banks of the river. * Water is continually sprinkled on the cloth to prevent it from drying. * In the evening the cloth is washed by folding it and slapping it against a washing stone, followed by rinsing in the flowing river.
* The cloth is then re-immersed in a freshly prepared sheep dung solution and the process is repeated. * On the second day the sprinkling is stopped in the late evening to allow the cloth to dry. The first step in making a kalamkari painting is the treatment of gada, or unbleached cotton cloth in kaccha or myrobalam and buffalo milk solution.