The word Kalamkari literally means Pen-Work. A Persian word, it derives its name from Kalam meaning Pen and Kari meaning work. The art of Kalamkari is a kind of picturisation on cloth which flourished in the small township of Sri Kalahasti (Andhra Pradesh), patented by the Government as the only township to practice this art form, hand painted Kalamkari flourishes here even today. With just a reed pen and colour ancient Indian epics were created on a canvas – vibrant images throbbing with life, depicting the carnival of life. These pictures unravel the mysteries of the faith of the oral culture. Providing a colourful backdrop for a Katha recital, accentuating the spiritual aura in temples as hanging and used as canopies during the Mughal rule – this multi purpose art form has evolved over a period of 3,000 years.
Words change in meaning with the passage of time, and if they did not do so they would become obsolete. In the past the term referred to a technique rather than to a pattern, it now carries the meaning of traditional motifs which may be floral, geometrical or figurative. More than just an art Kalamkari is an art of worship. Kalamkari is either Block printed or Hand painted. The use of vegetable dyes is what makes this art form sober, elegant and rich. Pedana is where the block printing thrives.