Gorkey Patwal's Photoseries On The Kalamkari Artisans Of Andhra Pradesh

Homegrown Staff

The origins of Kalamkari can be traced back to over 3000 years ago when bamboo pens were used to print fabrics. This craft was also partially responsible for the series of events that led to India losing its independence. One of the two distinctive styles of Kalamkari in India, the Srikalahasti style, wherein the ‘kalam’ or pen is used for freehand drawing of the subject and filling in the colours, is entirely hand worked.

Kalamkari, meaning ‘pen work’ in Persian, epitomizes a meticulous process where artisans hand-carve intricate designs onto wooden blocks. These blocks, first sketched on paper, are transformed through skilled hands into tools that imprint patterns on to pure cotton fabrics. 

Each piece undergoes several rounds of printing, starting with outlines in shades like black or red, before embracing hues like red, blue, yellow, green, or black. The river becomes a pivotal part of the process, washing away excess dye, after which the fabric is sundried, ready for the next intricate layer of prints. 

Archana Jaju, fueled by a lifelong passion for fashion and deep-rooted ties to India's textile heritage, embarked on her creative journey decades ago. Her eponymous brand, born in 1996, speaks to her relentless pursuit of merging tradition with contemporary fashion sensibilities.

Through this captivating photoseries, Gorkey's lens captures a story of heritage, resilience, and creativity. It's a visual feast that beckons viewers to appreciate the intricate details and the human stories behind each piece. As Archana Jaju continues to redefine luxury through her brand, she not only preserves India's textile traditions but also empowers artisans to thrive in a global marketplace.