History of Ghalamkari

The origin and history of painting or printing on cloth, known today as Ghalamkari (Chitsazi) is not clear. Perhaps the most detailed account to date is that given by Phyillis Ackerman, on behalf of another author, in the 3rd volume of "A Survey of Persion Art" by Arthur Upham Pope, according to which this craft is sopposed to have its origins in the Ghaznavied era.

The point worth nothing is that there is a great similarity between the patterns of Ghalamkari and those of carpets, tiles and even, to a certain extent, of plaster malding specially because the various craftsmen wood get together and create a new design out of existing ones. This practice more or less exists today, and that is why you often find the same peculiarly persian patterns repeated in and common to carpets tiles and ghalamkari, specially in the borders of the cloth.

The present author been compelled to accept the following assumption as a result of the evidence collected during 16 years of research: First, the patterns found in even the most dated examples of Persian Ghalamkari are the very patterns used in Persian carpets. Second the patterns found on Persian tiles, since Saffavid times, are based on those found in Persian carpets and Ghalamkari. Third, and finally, another point worth noting is that if one accepts the fact that the art of Ghalamkar, because of its simplicity, is older than the art of carpet-weaving, then one must conclud that originally the Ghaznavid patterns were prepared by craftsmen and then adapted to carpets, plaster moldings and woodcarvings and greatly influenced these arts.

Another point worth considering is that when during and after the Safavid Era Ghalamkari become more popular, Ghalamkar artists storve to create fresh patterns based on the old ones. This influence can be clearly detected upon examination of each patterns, especially in the borders of the cloth. So when a pattern has been adapted from either old Ghalamkar or carpet and tile patterns and repeated in a new form, this can be detected and the development of the pattern followed through its variouse stage.

As far as the colouring used in Ghalamkari is concerned one can possibly say that, on the whole, before the discovery of chemical, dyes/natural vegetable dyes such as Raw Sienna, opopanax were used. And also assorted plants with fast colours, medincinal herbs various resins and bark of such fruit trees as the walnut, pomegranate and many others were used. It should be said that usually Ghalamkari's textile is cotton / silk, it means those made of 100% natural materials.

Summarized from "A Collection of Persian Qalam-Kar" (A.B. Ehsani, 1971)

The producer of Iranian precious handicrafts and antiquary Ghalamkari of Isfahan.


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