Textile & Fashion

Kalamkari being endangered by digital printing techniques

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In order to keep up with ever growing demands and with the aim to reduce production costs and time, many villagers have started using chemical dyes and the screen printing method to produce the famed textile style of Kalamkari. The current modern technique involves digitally created designs followed by stencils which are used to print. The small town in South India which is known for the exquisite Kalamkari style of textile printing and has also earned the GI tag for it might be losing the lustre and all thanks to the use of modern and chemical methods that threaten the traditional art of block printing on fabric using organic and vegetable dyes.

In 2013, Pedana town and its neighbouring villages of Machilipatnam, Polavaram and Kappaladoddi in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh won the geographical indication (GI) tag for the production of Machilipatnam Kalamkari that involves carving out intricate designs on wooden blocks, and using these to print patterns on fabric.

It is to be noted that the name Kalamkari is derived from the words qalam (pen) and Kari (craftsmanship) which actually means drawing with a pen. While the Srikalahasti style of Kalamkari describes a freehand drawing with a pen, the Machilipatnam Kalamkari uses wooden stamps to create patterns on fabric.

“What the screen printing method can produce in 40 minutes, block printing or hand painting can take days,” said Varun Kumar Pitchuka, who along with his father Pitchuka Srinivas is endeavouring to carry on with their family business of producing authentic Kalamkari products.

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