Discover qalamkari, the traditional art of printing 

May 16, 2020 - 21:30

TEHRAN – Photos depict Iranian craftspeople practicing the traditional art of qalamkari – printing on cotton or silk fabric with a tamarind pen using natural dyes - in a workshop in the city of Isfahan, May 15, 2020. 

The word qalamkari is derived from a Persian word where ‘qalam’ means pen and ‘kari’ refers to craftsmanship.

This art involves 23 tedious steps of dyeing, bleaching, hand painting, block printing, starching, cleaning and more. Motifs drawn in qalamkari include flowers, peacock, and paisleys.

The 3000-year-old art uses earthy colors like indigo, mustard, rust, black, and green. Natural dyes used to paint colors in qalamkari art are extracted from natural sources with no use of chemicals and artificial matter. 

For instance, craftsmen extract black color by blending jaggery, water, and iron fillings which they essentially use for outlining the sketches. While mustard or yellow is derived by boiling pomegranate peels, red hues are created from bark of madder or algirin. Likewise, blue is obtained from indigo, and green is derived by mixing yellow and blue together.