- Introduction :
This exclusive hand block-printing technique came to Kutch from Sindh, some 400 years ago at the behest of the King of Kutch. The craftsmen from Khatri community were invited to come and practice their art on the Banks of Dhamadka river. The popular story among local artisans is that Ajrakh means “keep it today”.
Ajrakh is however a type of print, intricate and fine, typically floral and has root in Moghul Cultural. Traditionally, Ajrakh is printed with carved Wooden Blocks thumped on the Fabric side by side with precision by skillfull Hands of Artisan.
Ajrakh Printing is sixteen step process of washing, dyeing, printing, and drying. Each day for each step is needed and the cloth is put to rest in the other time. The ingredients in Ajrakh are derived from nature such as wild indigo, pomegranate bark and seeds, and harde. Camel dung is also used to remove starch from the fabric. Apart from this the artisans use rusted iron to create dye.
The Ajrakh is usually costly compared to other hand block printing technique because of high cost of wooden blocks costing as much as Rs 3000, labour and skill intensive, Length and repetitive process involved and use of Natural Organic and Inorganic Dyes derived from natural elements and compounds.
Materials: Hand Carved Wooden Blocks, Printing platform made of sponge sheets and cloth, Ball pins, Color trays, Copper vessels.
Process:The cloth is soaked in Harada (tamarind seed powder) solution and dried under sun. Then the Cloth is fixed on platform with ball pins to begin block printing.
Dye paint is kept in a dye tray and the wooden blocks are immersed in the dye and printed on the cloth. Initially borders are printed first and then outlines of the design are printed. Newspaper is used to avoid printing on other areas. Different blocks are used for each color.
After the printing is done, it is washed in plain water. Then it is washed in flowing water. Between each wash the cloth is beaten on the stone slab to remove all impurities.
Then washed cloths are spread on the ground and dried under the Sun.
Then as it dries it is folded and taken for the next step i.e; Indigo Dying.
The cloth is dyed in indigo color to get blue shade.
Dyed cloths are again dyed in solution of alizarin and Dhawdaka Phul.
These dyed cloths are dried in the Sun and packed for marketing.
Products: Dresses, Sarees, Fabrics, Kammar band (waist cloth), Bed spread, Blanket, Salwar, Kameez, Dhoti, Lungi, Turban, Dupatta, Shawl, Safa(head covering), Malir (skirt fabric)
This Traditional Art form is also much liked by the modern generation too. This piece of art and expertise involved in the same from the master craftsman, is sure to catch one’s attention and imagination.
Thank You for Patronizing Arts and Crafts of Kutch and the craftsmen of the Kutch.
May the Traditions of our country live indefinitely, enriching our lives.