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Kalamkari of Sickinaikkenpet, Tamil Nadu

Natural Dyes, Pigments, Colours

Kalamkari of Sickinaikkenpet, Tamil Nadu

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Kalamkari hand painting is done by only one family in Sickinaikenpet in the Thanjavur district. It is done with a stick which is wound with thread that has been dipped in dye. A hereditary profession, the family belongs to a long line of Kalamkari artists who move to Tamil Nadu from Andhra Pradesh. Kalamkari paintings form temple hangings, panels, doorframes and tubular hangings (thombais) with scenes from the Puraanas and other great epics. The temple hangings are called vasamalai. The technique used to paint them is similar to that at Sri Kalahasti but the characterisation is religious rather than folk.

Vegetable dyes are used and the colours are very bright and dramatic. Geometrical and floral patterns are found in the borders and backgrounds. One of the items made here is the Kuralam which is a decorative cloth to hang on either side of the chariot during the procession. Elaborate woolen cut work is done as ornamentation; this is usually given by devotees as votive offerings. Saris, linen and furnishing material are also hand painted here in dramatic geometric patterns.

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