Kalamkari or Qalamkari is a type of hand painted or block printed cotton textile , produced in parts of India and Iran. The word is derived from the Persian words ghalam ( pen ) and Kari ( craftsmanship ) meaning drawing with a pen ( Ghalamkar ).

Vegetable dyes are used to colour the designs applied on the cloth . The art of using organic dyes for painting on cloth is very popular in many parts of India .

The Artists use a bamboo or date palm stick pointed at one end with a bundle of fine hair attached to this pointed end to serve as the brush or pen .The dyes are obtained by extracting colours from parts of plantssuch as the roots and leaves along with mineral salts of iron , tin copper and aluminium which are used as mordants.

The cotton fabric gets its glossiness by immersing it for an hour in a mixture of Myrobalans and cow milk. Contours are then drawn with a point in bamboo soaked in a mixture of jagri fermented and water; one by one these are applied, then the vegetable dyes. After applying each color on to the motif, the Kalamkari fabric is washed after drying.

The Machilipatnam Kalamkari craft made at Pedana in Andhra Pradesh evolved with the patronage of the Mughals and the Golcanda sultanate . After the independence of India the Handicraft development board took up the task to revive the art . The speciality of the Kalamkari painted fabric is that the finished products are mellow. Bright colours are used but the finish is very subtle . The fabric looks better and better with every wash , with designs standing out even better against the background .