Kalamkari is a type of hand-painted or block-printed cotton textile, produced in Iran and India. Its name originates in the Persian,قلمکار which is derived from the words kalam (pen) and kari (craftmanship), meaning drawing with a pen. Only natural dyes are used in kalamkari and it involves twenty three steps.They are used to make beautiful sarees.
Started originally in the Sasani era in Iran (almost 2500 years ago), there are two distinctive styles of kalamkari art in India - the Srikalahasti style and the Machilipatnam style. The Srikalahasti style of kalamkari(Kalankari), wherein the "kalam" or pen is used for freehand drawing of the subject and filling in the colors, is entirely hand worked. This style flowered around temples and their patronage and so had an almost religious identity - scrolls, temple hangings, chariot banners and the like, depicted deities and scenes taken from the Hindu epics - Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas and the mythological classics. This style owes its present status to Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay who popularized the art as the first Chairperson of the All India Handicrafts Board.