Ghalamkar (Calico) is one of the oldest crafts of ancient Persian which was in the peak of fame for centuries. This sort of cloth is prepared of pure cotton. The Calico (Ghalamkar) implies the creation of a role on a linen cloth, which today is also done on other pieces. The art of printing on the cloth.
The material was called Ghalamkari (brushwork) because of the technique employed in executing it. The word is derived from the Persian words Ghalam (pen) and kari (craftmanship), meaning drawing with a pen (Ghalamkar). ČĪT or Chit cotton cloth decorated with block-printed or painted designs in multiple colors. The term čīt passed into English as “chintz”, now the common designation for any cotton or linen furnishing fabric printed with floral designs in fast colors.
The History of Ghalamkar
These fabrics date back to the Sassanid period, the fourth Iranian dynasty and the second Persian Empire (224 – 651 CE). In the 10th century Isfahan was the capital of the kingdom at the time and this art was one of the most important branches of arts in Isfahan province. Bazaar was the center for the artists of Ghalamkar and there were many workshops in the Isfahan market.
This art was very common in the 11th century AH, in the Safavid period, expanded and continued until the Qajar period. One of the most important reasons for this was Shah Abbas’s interest to this art.
During this era, the royals and the elite wore the most exquisite gold and silver threaded “Parcheh Ghalamkar” – Calico garments produced by the artists of the time. The most of artist and industrial came to Isfahan from city of Iran. They start to produce a different handicraft.
These kinds of cloth are very famous in that era. Different types of Calico (Ghalamkar) produced and most men’s and women’s clothing made by it. In the past, Ghalamkar fabrics have served multiple purposes. The Safavid Kings, nobles, and the upper class, wore Ghalamkar silk and cotton clothes ornamented with gold and silver. The fabrics were also used to decorate the interior, frequently utilized as curtains, bedspreads, and wall coverings.
Today’s talented Persian artists hand-produce some splendid Parcheh Ghalamkar – printed textile for various uses such as women’s and men’s clothing, scarves, purses, wallets, decorative table cloths and mats, etc. The city of Isfahan is presently the main center for the creation of printed calico in Persia. Persian handmade upholstery, Calico Printing tablecloth (dinner, kitchen, coffee table, end table) and bed cover in a verity of sizes and designs, 100% Cotton, Organic Color. About Ghalamkar Upholstry: The hand-printed fabric is made in the city of Isfahan, the cultural capital of Iran.
Usually the cloth used in this art are: Cotton, Silk and Flax.
The most important designs in the art are: Historical sights such as the magnificent palaces of Persepolis, Wild and Domestic animals, Miniature, flowers and bushes, Old Persian Fiction Stories, Poem inscriptions, Topics and historical events, Ashura Epic Stories. Colors in the past have been a variety of natural colors, including plant colors, animal colors and mineral colors. But today, due to the difficult stages of the preparation of natural colors, chemical colors use.
Today, the finest fabrics of Calico (Ghalamkar) is in the beautiful and historic city of Isfahan, as well as the cities of Shiraz and Tehran market. The cotton is being printed using patterned wooded stamps. Each shape is stamped several times with different colored stamps, and the final shape is formed by precisely overlaying colored stamps on top of each other. There are four major colors in the production of Ghalamkar. Four of them are natural (mineral) colors, . After printing, the fabric is boiled in the water to stabilize the color, then is washed in a river (that enhances the color), is boiled again in water, and finally is dried under natural sun light in the riverside. of sizes and design.
Materials and Methods Used colors in GhalamKari: Red and Black are two basic colors used to paint the GhalamKari fabrics. In making black color some materials such as: Gum tragacanth, Iron Oxide, Black alum, Castor oil and for Red color materials such as Rose, Sesame oil, Alum, and Gum tragacanth are used. Sometimes mixed colors such as cobalt blue, green, yellow and brown colors are appropriately used.
Used materials: Calico makers use a wide range of materials, but the mostly used materials are as follows; Unbleached Calico, Long Cloth, Pomegranate peel, Gum tragacanth, herbal dyes such as, white alum, Indigo blue and Glycerine.
Gradually, to meet the high demand, the Ghalamkar artists began using wooden frames and stamps that were mostly made from old peach trees. This technique drastically expedited the printing process and enabled the artists to create homogeneous patterns.
Often to build seals or template for Ghalamkar, they used pear wood or kavij for high strength of the wood. After purchasing the woods, they cut them into pieces ten centimeters and exposed to the sun for three years, until completely dry. Also, for each template they used three pieces of wood, this is because over time template does not twist. Then they transfer design on the wood and engraved it by especial tools.
Step by Step to the Final Product
To produce Ghalamkar cloth (figured calico or cretonne), first the cloth must be prepared. this is done by first putting the cloth in a pool for about five days. then, the cloth is bumped hard into a stony surface so that its extra materials get out of its texture. Then, it is left in sunlight to dry and after that put into a combination of pomegranate skin and some other herbal materials so that its color turns yellow. now, the cloth is ready for printing images and patterns onto it to become a cretonne in its final shape.
Printing images on the cloth is done with the use of pre-fabricated templates. The surface of the stamp is saturated with color and then placed on the cloth with precision and order. Then, the stamp is tapped a few times by hand so that the image gets transferred onto the cloth in a perfect manner. Now, it is time to fix the colors onto the cloth. This is done by boiling the cloth in hot water with the addition of a number of certain materials. However, the additives used vary in response to the color that is used in the cloth.
How to Buy a Good Ghalamkar
You have to pay a close attention to the patterns and images on the cloth. In a Ghalamkar cloth with low quality, the patterns and images are not transferred onto the cloth properly and, technically speaking, in low-quality figured calicos there is color dispersion. The higher quality Ghalamkars are thicker and the authentic ones have a lacinated or torn-shaped and curved edge.
Warnings and Cautions
- Buy such items from the credible stores where Iranian handicrafts are sold.
- Do not wash your Ghalamkar with strong wishing materials and do not put them in the washing machine. This is because washing them with water, shampoo, and hand prolongs their useful life.
The exalted art of Ghalamkar is a symbol of longevity, love, and resilience of an ancient tradition that through many peaks and troughs, has been passed to us generation after generation, and heart to heart but It seems that after the pinnacle of popularity, this tradition has entered a stagnant stage and if not for the artists, the legacy may not have survived.