Sickalnayakanpet Sarees
sikalnayakanpet sarees:
Sikalnayakanpet near Tanjore is a origin for this dying art of hand painted kalamkari sarees of Tamil nadu..
In a recent trip we had a chance to meet our artisan Mr .Raj Mohan who still keeps the art alive.. His father ,who recently passed away ,Mr. M.Permual is a National award winner..
Raj Mohan shared the history of sikalnayakanpet sarees with us. During the period of Sevvappa nayakar 25 families were brought from kalahasthi to decorate the palace and temple. These 25 families were well versed in almost all arts like drawing, block printing, batik, weaving. The king used their talent in almost all best possible ways.. Raj Mohan proudly told they were treated like royals by king... Those days functions in palace used to take place for months and these artisans decorated the drama themes in drawings and paintings over the entire palace. Unlike kalamkari where dominant colour is blue and green. The sikalnayakanpet paintings are of yellow, black and red in majority..
During british period these families were asked to move from the palace. They were honoured with 150 acres and asked to take care of their families. These people migrated and due to no art recognition many people shifted to other jobs. Only Raj Mohan and his family sustained with this art and now it's only one person all over India who still practices this art.. Hence sicakalnayakanpet sarees are signature item and definetly rare to get.
Raj Mohan also told us an incident were his grandfather and his team were taken to United kingdom and asked to draw almost all paintings they knew.. All those paintings were preserved in United kingdom museum with high regards.
From this art comes a byproduct as block printing and very famous kodali karuppur sarees were done and given as attire to ranis. Kodali karuppur is a block printing on full gold zari weaved saree..
In 1980 with help of our Prime minister Mrs. Indira Ghandi the art went to international platforms like Japan, Netherlands, Portland and usa. Raj Mohan main motto is to preserve and promote this art so he conducts various classes to teach the localities and also aids in projects for students from fashion designing and art students. He has asked Indian govt to make sikalnayakanpet art as a creative subject in Bacheolar of fine arts.. 
Eventhough the saree seems to be in a 3 tone colour Raj Mohan explained us try difficulty in painting these sarees. It,s not easy as we think.. since sarees are of 6m. They had to finish it in single stroke and uniformity of colour has to be maintained.. they use natural colours like turmeric, iron rust and jabal seeds.. they use a hard brush made of coconut stem and apply 3 to 4 coatings of colour to maintain the uniformity..
The saree is first prepared by soaking in poondhi kottai, milk and nutmeg to obtain the softness.. such a valuable treasure piece should be cherished forever and ever.. one of my valuable trips..
The colours used are Black: jaggery, iron rust , coal fermented for 48 days
Turmeric for yellow, red from madder.
Its very important for us to preserve this beatiful art form
August 31, 2020 — Chithra Kailasam

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