Today I am focusing on two traditions from the South. One tradition is elaborate and colourful . It has mythological characters drawn with strong strokes. And the other is a simple , creamy, white cotton with burnished gold.
For many years I had this beautiful Kalamkari hanging on my wall. I could spend hours staring at the pictures of Ram and Sita and the demons as they played out the story of the Ramayana. This ancient style of hand painting literally means Pen Craftstmanship or KALAMKARI. The artists ( for they are no less than that) take their inspiration from the ancient myths and legends, more specifically the Ramayan and the Mahabharat. The cotton canvases show elaborate scenes depicting the Krishna Leela, the pantheon of Indian Gods and Goddesses, with elements like peacocks and lotuses providing the finishing details.
Can any of you recognise the two side stories of the Ramayan depicted above? Perhaps those who can read the script will find it easy but for those who don’t, it will mean a little hard work.
As you can see, this style is practiced largely in the Golconda and Coromandel regions where a the twig of a Tamarind tree is used as a pen. The colours used are natural dyes and the canvas in mainly cotton. However, you can also find silk Kalamkari saris and garments.
Kalamkari is also a popular furnishing fabric and I’m sure many of you have used it in your homes.
The Kerala Sari?
Why the question mark?
Well, because actually there is no such thing as a ‘Kerala Sari’ in the way as we know a sari to be : 6 yards of fabric. Traditionally, the Kerala sari is a two piece costume made of the finest cotton in soft, fine creamy,white with a border of plain gold. The gold bands are repeated in the paloo and the over all effect is one of stunning simplicity.
However, in modern times as with everything traditional, the Kasavu has been modified to a six yard length with variations in the border as you can see from mine above. But what remains unchanged, however, is the soft feel of the cotton.
Now isn’t this a gorgeous work of art?
Disclaimer : I am neither a textile manufacturer nor a historian . I am just passionate about textiles and fabrics. I have gathered all my information from the Internet. Please excuse any errors and omissions.
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