"Textile Printing": Qalam Kari
History of Qalamkari
Qalamkari is one of the oldest businesses in Iran, which has been at the height of fame for centuries.
This art was customary with the painting on the fabric of the Mongols in Iran. And during this period, thanks to the support of Mongolian khans, Chinese and Patterned fabrics were sold extraordinarily in the Iranian markets.
His special pattern called "Delge" was prepared for men's and women's wear. Other old types of Qalamkari can be named khamrhai zir eklili, red jigrenate and purple jigrenat. In the beginning, artists used only one or more templates and handed the rest. But after a few years with designed on paper and transfer these designs onto moulds, engraving and moulding, Fan's technicians could generally produce kalamkar products by moulding. Qalamkari 's pattern was originally composed of Gol-o-Bote, Arabesque that was from miniaturized, but later with the evolution of the Qajar era, some people were forced to enter folk paintings into Qalamkari. And use religious or epic motifs of that time instead of using traditional pattern in Qalamkari. In this way, coffee house kalamkar fabrics have been invented. Along with these fabrics, religious curtains were also created by kalamkar artists. Curtains of the wars and epics of the Imams, especially the epic of Imam Hossein, were the adornment of the Hosseinih’s and mosques. And the art of Qalamkari in Isfahan was also found many eager in other cities. Major cities such as Rey, Yazd, Kashan, Sirjan and Kerman wanted to buy Janamaz, table linen, Napkin and a variety of clothes made in Isfahan, in addition to religious curtain and coffee shop pictures. Currently, Isfahan is the centre of Qalamkari production in Iran, and also a kind of special Qalamkari product in the Damghan and Semnan. Recently the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was awarded the stamp of originality to one of the Isfahanian artists to honour this Iranian art and appreciate of its excellence in artists.
"Qalamkari " is a word that expresses everything. At the beginning of this art, the painting industry was drawn by using a brush on cotton and silk fabrics. And then they painted them; these fabulous and gorgeous fabrics used in the aristocratic clothing. But as the demand for such fabrics increases, it is necessary to speed up the production of such fabrics, so the craftsmen brought this field to stamp print. Of course, it is to be said that printing on fabric is precisely referred to as Chit-sazi, which mistakenly, today the same Kalamkar fabric is called.
In Qalamkari should be used cotton, silk, linen, calico and cotton duck fabrics. According to the master artists, fabrics of Qalamkari should be made of yarn because the colour reception for cotton fibres is much more than woollen. Therefore it will have better colour quality.
Colour application in Qalamkari
The colours used in this art are entire of natural colours, such as the black colour made of walnut and gum dragon, and this colour is the background colour. The second colour is red, which is made from white vitriol (white stone) and madder red (a kind of plant) and boils it with gum dragon to get red. Thus, the third colour is blue that made from lapis lazuli and extract of grapes and gum dragon, the fourth colour is yellow that made of the skin of sweet pomegranate and gum dragon, green colour is made of the skin of the sweet pomegranate, lapis lazuli, extract of grapes and gum dragon.
History of Qalamkari
If we want to accurately say that when did Qalamkari, or, in other words, the painting on the fabrics start, we can refer to a cloth belonging to the fourth century BC. This fabric was discovered in the tomb of seven brothers Scythians. Another example from the same time discovered in an Egyptian cemetery.
But its use was widespread in the Mughal era and the Iranians used to design and print fabrics to attract Mughal khans. When the Safavids seized power, artists came from all parts of the country to the centre of their rule, Esfahan, to benefit from the support of the Safavid sultans, especially Shah Abbas. Meanwhile, master artists of Qalamkari on the cloth came to Isfahan to become the main centre for the production of this art in Isfahan today.
Among the paintings used in this art are historical sights, domestic and wild animals, miniatures, industrial hunting grounds, Gol-o-Both(flowers and bushes) and chains.
In the Safavid era, Qalamkari fabrics were used for aristocratic clothes and called "Delgae". At that time, there were special places for preparing clothes in the Qaisariya market of Isfahan, where Qalamkari bolts were presented. Another of its uses at that time was the construction of tents, and large and expensive vexillum for boast and flaunt of art and culture. Sometimes a wall was covered with Qalamkari cloth or used as a curtain. Today, Qalamkari has decorative applicative and has various designs and sizes that use as a tablecloth, counterpane and so on.
High-quality Qalamkar fabric
When we buy our country handcrafts, we all want to buy the best and most quality of it, and take that pleasure artwork. In the Isfahan market, Kalamkar can be found in a variety of quality. Variety of factors create the quality of a Kalamkar fabric. First of all, the underlying fabric is important. As we said, this fabric should be made of cotton; otherwise, it does not absorb the colour and defects arise in the motifs.
The used colours are the most important factor in high or low quality of Kalamkar fabric. If you use natural colours and the materials that are mixed with colours for the best possible stabilization (such as gum dragon and glycerin), are of the highest quality, Kalamkar's life rises. The steps after the draw pattern on the fabric are washing fabric on the water, which is called the "Abkhor-Kardan".
But, except for its colour and its colour stabilization, the motifs used or the moulds used in it and the number of colours, also play a significant role in raising the quality of work.
Qalamkari products in the past
Most grandees and rich people wore fine clothes of Kalamkar fabrics, sometimes with gold and silver. KalamKars were also used for the horses' decorations and tack. They made tents and pavilion made from distinguished clothes. Sometimes a wall was covered with Qalamkari cloth or used as a curtain. They made the Tetrapylon with the full-Pattern KalamKar, in the ceremonies and celebrations. And sometimes covered the passages with KalamKar fabrics. They prayed on the KalamKar ground cloth and their pray dress were from KalamKar woven. Curtains, tablecloths and batch of brides were often made from KalamKar fabrics, which this beautiful woven fabric are still found in many houses.
Current products of Qalamkari
The products that are made from KalamKar fabric today include clothes, prayer mats, bed-covering, curtains, cover of tray, fardel, small cashmere cloth, baths, Ghatifeh, Epigraphy, Kaleh, coat, Shaliteh, chair cover, tablecloths, bed cover, napkin, underclothing, heater cover, bags, skirts, women's shoes and for decoration purposes.
In this ancient Iranian industry, the pattern is transferred to the fabric by a wooden stamp. Mould is a stamp that pattern is carving on it. The oldest teachers have recognized the best wood for cutting mould is Pear and hawthorn Wood. Usually, they used hawthorn wood for fine moulds, which is still ongoing, and the pearwood is hard and renitent and doesn’t reform.
Preparing the mould.
The moulding is one of the oldest, delicate and one of the most important arts in Isfahan that has remained only a few masters of the Artist of this activity. The grosser figures, the easier it is to cut and the finer figure, the harder it is to cut. Moulding is the first and most important step in making Qalamkari. It is also the most sensitive and delicate stage, and it can only be said that the art of KalamKar maker is moulding it.
In order to complete mould, from the beginning, the finding of wood until the mould is ready to be drawn, there are several stages that are:
1. Finding the wood of mould for three reasons: increase the persistence of the wood, softens the wood for cutting, prevents penetration and creates changes and fractures in it.
2.“Liseh” or polish wood
3. The design, in which the rasp crust of the pomegranate or Quercus infectoria is mixed with Glaze of gum dragon, the liquid is applied on a flat surface of the wood to transfer the prepared design from the paper onto the wood.
4. The final step is to give “Pieh" to the Qalamkari mould, which is designed to render the template strong and imperceptible.
Then the person who does moulding draw the desired pattern on the mould and engraving it. Afterwards, they take away the extra wood from the designs and they make a batch for the mould at the behind the wood and the moulds are lubricated to increase its perseverance.
Types of moulds
Different types of moulds include:
Love image moulds like Joseph and Zuleika, Layla and Majnun, Shirin and Farhad, Khosrow and Shirin...
Old-fashioned image moulds with pictures of animals such as foxes and Stork, and sometimes fictitious imagery and imaginary animals to magnify the events.
Historical monuments moulds such as Persepolis, 40 Soton, 33 bridges and...
Moulds of poets and scholars image like Ferdowsi, Avicenna, Khayyam and Hafez...
Animal image mould like peacock, deer, elephant, horse, camel...
Nature Picture Mold.
A mould of musicians and bard images
A mould of Gol-o-Bote and Arabesque image
All colours used to make Qalamkari fabrics are herbal colours. At Qalamkari workshop, the master that makes colours have extensive studies on mineral and planets. He/she makes the colours used in the drawing pattern.
In the making of KalamKar, they mostly used of the two colours of black and red, which for the black colour are used materials such as gum dragon, oxide, iron, green rouge, and castor oil, and make reds colour from materials such as rose flower, sesame oil, Alum and gum dragon ؛ Sometimes they use a combination of colours such as blue or azure, green, yellow and brown. Typically, five main colours are black, red, blue, green, and yellow, and also brown and other colours that come from the combination of these colours, are used as secondary colours.
Required Tools for Qalamkari
The materials of KalamKar are very diverse, but what is remarkable is the following: fustian, viscose and calico fabrics, gum dragon, pomegranate skin and plant colour of white alum, Indigo dye, mould, glycerin oil and alizarin.
The stages of Qalamkari Fabric preparation
They leave white fabrics in the river's water for five days so that they do not move. Then they take one cloth side and smash its free side on a stone firmly. This will make the waste material go out of the fabric and so-called "Ab-Khor". Then, when the fabrics dried in the sun, they indented the fabrics; they mix the pomegranate skin with the Myrobalan and dissolved in water, and they dipped the fabrics in the solution. By doing this, the fabric becomes Yellow- Beige.
Print the pattern
The printing pattern is the same as cloth printing; That is, the print the pattern of moulds in different colours on the fabric. In this step covers the surface of the mould with colour, and then puts it on a cloth and knock on the clothes with a hand firmly. In each workshop, each person prints one colour. And for the next colour, he/she will bring the fabric to the next person. First, they lay the moulds in black on the fabric to determine the original design. Then, the other mould that has just one colour has been put on the fabric. This work continues so that the colours can be completed, meaning each part of the pattern turns to the desired colour. As all the desired patterns and colours are transmitted to the white fabric, the work of printing is stops and the fabrics are taken to the river to fix the colours.
Fixing the colour
Black and red patterned fabrics are immersed in ladle after washing and drying, which contain boiling water, pomegranate skin powder and alizarin. Before touching Elizarin, the red colour of the pattern doesn’t have their own main colour and they are dirty. Elizarin causes the colours to appear in their original colour. Elizarin also helps to stabilize colours. After removing the fabric from the Elizarin ladle, they are still being drained in the river water and then knock firmly to the rock to get water and alizarin it.
After drying, the fabrics are divided into two parts: one part that wants to remain with the same field of beige colour, for the next stage of printing that means, forgetting the other colours, once again send to the printing workshop. The other part is a fabric that needs a white background and should pass the Whitening (said-gari) step.
The fabrics that need to be white in the background, soak the solution made from the cow and spread the cloth on the floor, with its pattern on the ground and back to the sun. Then they continue to spray water on the cloth because it stays damp and doesn't dry. The whitening fabric lasts for 5 days in summer and lasts for up to a month in winter, depending on the temperature and duration of direct sunlight.
After the whitening work is finished, the work on printing blue, yellow, and green on the fabric begins, and after that, after another wash, the work will almost end.
Mr Zabolyan that is a Qalamkar master artist has the UNESCO certificate.