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CRAFTS IN SPOTLIGHT

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Ajrakh
AJRAKH HANDBLOCK PRINT

Ajrakh cloth is linked to azrakh, the Arabic word for indigo, a blue plant that thrived in the arid conditions of Kutch. Ajrakh patterns use complex geometry to create starry designs in indigo, madder, black and white. The shapes and motifs employed echo Islamic architecture's intricate jali windows and arches.

From its beginnings in the nomadic pastoral and agricultural communities of Kutch, Ajrakh has now spread worldwide in its appeal. Pomegranate seeds, gum, Harde powder, wood, flour of Kachika, flower of Dhavadi, alizarine and locally cultivated Indigo are just some of the natural resources that printers in this craft use.

Process
Ajrakh3
Ajrakh2
PROCESS

The cloth is made in a sixteen step process of washing, dyeing, printing, and drying, which requires a high level of skill and concentration in order to keep colors fast and even. Printing an Ajrakh requires time and patience. Printers prepare fabric for printing by tearing un-dyed fabric into 9 meter lengths, washing it to remove impurities and then dying it with myrobalam. From a collection that may be up to 100 years old, artisans select a wooden block carved with traditional designs. This first block is coated in lime and Acacia gum and carefully pressed onto the cloth at regular intervals. Artisans continue the process by selecting and coating blocks in dye, aligning them with previous prints, and pressing them carefully onto the fabric. Jaggery and gram flour are used for black designs; alum and tamarind for red. After each color of print, artisans rinse and sun-dry the cloth. After the printing is complete, the cloth is washed, dyed in one of many natural colors, and once again dried.

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