Ajrak is a name given to a unique form of blockprinting on fabric and tiles found in Sindh(Pakistan), Kutch (Gujarat, India) and Barmer (Rajasthan, India). This depicts special designs and patterns made using block printing by stamps. Common colours used while making these patterns may include but are not limited to blue, red, black, yellow and green
Ajrakh is a hand block printing technique found in Sindh (Pakistan) and Kutch (Gujarat, India). The complex motifs are motifs are inspired from nature and Islamic architecture, and the dyes and mordants used are of natural origin.
The level of geometry on the garment comes from the usage of a method of printing called woodblock printing in which prints were transferred from geometric shapes etched on the wooden blocks by pressing them hard on the fabric.
Artisans still use the same methods of production that were used in the earlier days to create an ajrak. The garment has become an essential part of the Sindhi culture and apparel of Sindhis. Men use it as a turban, a cummerbund or wind it around their shoulders or simply drape it over one shoulder. Women use it as a dupatta or a shawl and sometimes as a makeshift swing for children.
Ajraks are usually about 2.5 to 3-meters long, patterned in intense colours predominantly rich crimson or a deep indigo with some white and black used sparingly to give definition to the geometric symmetry in design. The white you sometimes see is a result of printing the fabric with a “resist” and then dyeing it in a certain colour. The areas printed with a resist (flour mixed with gum, for example) remain white after the fabric is dyed.
Some of the natural resources used in Ajrakh printing are alizarine, indigo, pomegranate seeds, gum, wood, and flour. The printing process includes many washes in mordants, dyes and water, and as a result the final printed fabric has beautiful softness to it.
Chemical dyes are a major source of pollution in the textile industry today. Ajrakh uses natural dyes and the process allows the craftsmen to live in harmony with nature, respecting their natural resources while they benefit from them.