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My Visit to Kalamkari Museum in Pedana

Kalamkari work on my dress

My dress is all about Kalamkari work (fish design)

I knew about Kalamkari work before coming to Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh but finding my way to Pedana village and its one-of-its-kind, authentic house museum, was not easy. I learned about Pedana and the Kalamkari art museum at the dance village of Kuchipudi. One of the dance teachers there, guided me to this treasure trove so that I could learn more about the traditional Indian textile art. As luck would have it, I was on a road trip, had a car to myself and thus, I quickly added Pedana to my itinerary.

Road trip to Machlipatnam
Just the right sign board for road mapping!
Machlipatnam beach is famous for its black soil
The black soil was magical
Travel blogger at Machliptnam
I spent few hours at the beach and then made my way to Pedana

Machilipatnam to Pedana

I was already on my way to Machlipatnam in Krishna district, the place where Kalamkari had originated and Pedana village was close-by. What a co-incidence! My driver was happy that he would not have to take a detour. In 2013, Machilipatnam had got the Geographical Indication Registry tag for Kalamkari but yet not many people know about it. The beach with black hued soil is more famous about the place.

Kalamkari -Original work is environment friendly as it uses no chemical colors

Some interesting facts about Kalamkari!

  • Kalamkari means penwork.
  • It is a free hand drawing.
  • It is a type of hand-printed or block printed work used on fabric.
  • It is popular in two states, Andhra Pradesh and Telagana and also practiced in some villages in Tamil Nadu.
  • Kalam (pen) and kari (craftmanship), came into light under the patronage of Golconda sultanate.
  • Some say this art form came later and had evolved from Pattachitra of Orissa, which meant drawing or art work on cloth.
  • Back then, some printed cloth were also called ‘Addakam’.
  • After the Mughals helped it evolve, the Britishers also loved Indian art and elements of fabric decoration.
  • Kalamkari is all about the original designs, natural colors, dyeing and then drying.
  • The process of extraction of colours from natural resources were known to only to the artists.
  • These days, the fake has actually taken over the market. Even the GI tag did not help the art to bounce back or sell.
  • A lot of Dutch people love Kalamkari work
  • There are very few artisans in the country who follow the original technique of hand-block printed Kalamkari.
I found the Kalamkari museum
Kalamkari Museum -Privately curated museum
Inside the Kalamkari museum
Though small museum but very colorful and educative

Kalamkari Art Museum by Shri Pitchuka Srinivas 

Visit to Pedana is incomplete without taking a look at the authentic Kalamkari work and understanding what it is and its legacy from 11th -12th century. And if one really wants to understand the meticulous art, know about the processes, colors, blocks and the dyeing process containers, you got to visit the private museum of Shri Pitchuka Srinivas. Its like taking a small course in the subject and getting introduced to yet another old tradition of India.

He is among the very few craftsmen who have not surrendered to fake work which is usually screen printed Kalamkari, made with chemical colours. He has lots to tell about hand block-printed Kalamkari. His museum is a beautiful curation to keep the love alive. Kalamkari originated with lots of designs depicting temples, gods, people, trees, leaves and flowers. It was all done with ink made from natural colors. AT his museum, one can really learn all the processes involved. Even the cloth where the designs are printed is not used in its original form. It goes through many steps of being soaked in different liquids to prevent the smudging of the ink.

Even a small negligence is not a good idea because if the color fades or one color mixes with another after one wash, the buyer really gets disappointed. Original creation and hand-made things take time. In fact if you compare, you will be surprised to know that screen printing method hardly takes 40 minutes but block printing or hand painting takes days. That is why, a lot of people started doing Kalamkari for commercial reasons and thus chemical colors came into picture. It was easy and high targets could be met. Mr Pitchuka has been trying his best to educate and spread the need for preserving the originality and authenticity of the art, but not much has been done yet. But once you are there at his workshop and museum, you are sure to fall in love with the real work of labor. Also, it doesn’t harm the environment.

Tree of Life - Kalamkari work
A beautiful work of Kalamkari

Tree of Life – A gorgeous and authentic Kalamkari work

Tree of Life is a beautiful work displayed at the museum. It is a wall-hanger created with 212 wooden blocks by his team of artists.

Original work is tedious and needs lot of hard-work and patience. Shortcuts are quick but then we lose the art. I was surprised to learn that only 15 percent of authentic Kalamkari work is done in Pedana, rest is all quick work with chemical. So, next time when you get a chance to know about this art, do ask questions. We all need to understand what is real and what is fake. We should also stand in support of the artisans and emphasize on the ban of use of chemicals.

natural colors of Kalamkari
Processes involved can be understood at the Museum!

Overall, the idea of curating a art-driven museum in a small town is absolutely amazing. We need more such efforts. And yeah, me and my friend did not return without buying some really cool Kalamkari work. I got a dress stitched out of it. The featured image is all about my Kalamkari dress.

17 thoughts on “My Visit to Kalamkari Museum in Pedana

  1. India is treasure trove of exclusive forms of textiles from expensive Patolas,Banarasi Saree to North east famous textiles and beautiful Kalmkari art of Andhra- I can say we have so much skills in terms of Craftsmanship. I haven’t been to Andhra yet but I would love to visit villages where skilled artisans made textiles with Kalamkari art. Glad to know about Kalamkari museum and how the owner is preserving this exclusive art form over synthetic and machine made Prints.Loved reading about the history and facts of Kalamkari.

  2. I love that fish design print. Even though close up you can see its fishes, when you look at it from a distance it just looks like a geometric pattern. I love the colors used in the design too. I’d love a pair of lounging trousers, PJs, in this material.

  3. What first strikes me is the beach with black hued soil which is so very different. Museums are always fun for me because of the great history that we are able to learn.Kakamkari museum is brilliant and so refreshing. Although had heard about this art form but this was a great opportunity to learn more. Each of these designs are actually masterpieces.Yes it’s time discard plastics and use these bags when we go shopping.

  4. Love the fish print, just how skilled artisans here in India are! Honestly didn’t know much about this art and so it was great reading it here! And neither did I know Dutch people love it. Definitely having this conversation with some of my very close friends and family from the Netherlands and would also love to pick up comfy clothes from this art work for them and myself as well!

  5. I recognise the Tree of Life art work. I have seen it before but knowing the origin now is amazing. Visiting this Kalamkari Museum is a must for art lovers. The hand block printed art must take time to craft so beautifully.

  6. I feel proud to realize there are still so many traditional authentic art alive in India. I have never heard of Kalamkari design before and the tree of life design totally blew my mind. I am surely going to visit the private museum of Mr. Pitchuka if I visit Andhra Pradesh. I must say the black soil beach looks interesting as well.

  7. When I was living in Hyderabad, I used to wear lots of Kalamkari fabrics but never knew about this Pedana village. Good to know that Andhra’s favorite textile work – Kalamkari and also Kalamkari art museum are located at the dance village of Kuchipudi. Kalamkari’s natural colors and intricate work always entices me a lot. Thanks for sharing wonderful museum on this artwork and whenever I visit Andhra Pradesh, I would surely look for this museum.

  8. Kalamkari print is exquisite. I often wonder about the skill and expertise of the artisans in India that they produce such wonderful work of art. It was good to know so much about Kalamkari from your blog. It was indeed good idea to take a detour and visit Pedana, the Kalamkari village. I would keep this place in mind the next time I am going anywhere near the place. I would love to visit the museum and know more about the art and design that so beautifully adorns some of my dresses.

  9. Namaskar, Your Kalamkari work is marvellous, its a treasure trove for our country and our artistic tradition. Myself from Pune, i wish to use these large panels and fabric for 2 projects around Pune, can i come and meet you and buy these .
    my contact is Request you to please share your contact me. Will call you then.
    its always a pleasure for us to use original artwork in our projects.

    1. I’m so amazed looking at this beautiful tradition being preserved. It’s really a boon for the coming generations to see this traditional art alive. My heartfelt thanks to Mr. Shrinivas and also to you Manjulika for the beautiful blog. 🙂

  10. Hand-painted cotton kalamkari textile is the appreciation of this form of expression that has driven art expert to look for varied style and interests. Weavers works really hard and provides us extraordinary product of hand painted kalamkari art. Appriciate your article!

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