Ajrakh - An Ancient Craft


                Ajrakh is the practice of traditional hand block printing and dying done by hand carved wooden blocks and various natural dyes and mordants. The practice dates back to almost 4500 years as its remains are still preserved in the Victoria Albert Museum, London, UK.
                It is believed that this craft exists from the time of cultivating of cotton because of its discovery from the ancient cities of Indus valley.
               The craft is practiced in a few places like Barmer in Rajasthan, Kutch in Gujarat and Sindh in Pakistan. Most of Ajrakhpur's artisans have actually come from Dhamadka after the devastating 2001 Bhuj earthquake when many villagers were either killed or lost their workshops and houses. The ninth-generation Ajrakh printer, Sufiyan Ismail Khatri, can trace his roots back to the 16th century when the craft was practised by his ancestors from Sindh.
                The printing in our textiles is done by using only natural / vegetable dyes or AZO free dyes. Scrap iron is a common sight around the workshops in the village of Ajrakhpur. This is because the black colour used for block printing is created using a mix of iron, jaggery, and gram flour. This process takes about 10 days and produces around 200 litres of it in one batch. There are other colours that are made from natural ingredients such as pomegranates, henna, and mud. The name ‘Ajrakh’ itself is derived from the Arabic word for indigo, which was one of the most prominent plants in the Kutch landscape till a divastating earthquake in this region in 1956.