Ajrakh: The Complex, Beautiful, And Historical Fabric

Mankind had become creative about fashion well before the history started getting recorded.As per some historians, Ajrakh is the oldest continuous printing method in textiles. Before we take a dive into the details, let’s check out a quick introduction of Ajrakh:

If you want to dig deeper into Ajrakh, you can check out this documentary film:


Courtesy: Sahapedia

Ajrakh once was used by people from all walks of life, albeit in different ways. But then somehow it got lost or let’s say restricted to a few regions. By a stroke of good luck, this lost craft has been rediscovered in recent years by textile revivalists, and has got a shot in the arm from the growing popularity among fashionistas and stylists alike.  Traditional Indian prints like Kalamkari, Bandhni, Dabu, Batik, Ikat are so vibrant and colourful, they have wowed the fashion industry the world over. Now Ajrakh adds to that exalted list.

What is Ajrakh?

The origins of this textile craft can be traced to the Indus Valley civilization in Sindh, Pakistan. With time, however, Ajrakh somehow got lost in the annals of obscurity, with only the Khatri community in Kutch keeping it alive in the local clothing made for the Rabari people.

A unique block printing technique that only uses dyes and organic hues derived from natural sources, the name probably comes from the Persian ‘azarak’ that denotes blue colour. 

The shades of blue come from indigo plant, while red, earthen shades are derived from the madder root. Even black comes from iron shavings, combined with millet flour and molasses. Since the art uses entirely organic processes, it is heavily dependent on skilled artisans and is labour intensive, besides being time consuming.Also, each piece of Ajrakh is unique and different from the other. Turbans, shawls, stoles, scarfs, saris, etc. look rich and colourful with this intricate print. 

The Process

Ajrakh is one of the most complex techniques of resist printing. A circular design or trefoil pattern is made on the cloth that is resist dyed. Rich geometrical patterns unfold on cloth, giving the effect of jewel toned aesthetics. The motifs and colours come from nature. Blue or indigo dye is combined with rich hues of earthen red or maroon, and outlined with white or black to give a sophisticated look to the garment.

Ajrakh in The Contemporary Times

Now, you have the opportunity to own a piece of poetry in textile prints that take you a world of timeless beauty and splendour. Ajrakh, made with painstaking care and artistic skill by gifted craftsmen, take you to that space. 

The understated elegance of this craft is such that it has won over aesthetes and fashionistas the world over. Being completely organic and eco-friendly, Ajrakh is comfortable too.

When you buy an Ajrakh, you are helping revive this historical art in contemporary times. What’s more, you also are generating employment for the artisans involved in this art. Ethical, sustainable fashion that benefits everyone.

Places To Buy Ajrakh Fabric On The Internet

Amounee – www.amounee.com
Matkatus – www.matkatus.com
Sanskruti – www.sanskrutistore.com
Fabriclore – fabriclore.com
Kutch Culture – www.kutchculture.com
Habba – www.habba.org

Places To Buy Ajrakh Apparel On The Internet

Vraj:Bhoomi – www.vrajbhoomi.in
Okhai – www.okhai.org
Fabindia – www.fabindia.com
Gaatha – shop.gaatha.com
The Indian Ethnic Co – theindianethnicco.com
Prathaa – prathaa.in
Kutch Culture – www.kutchculture.com
The Loom- www.theloom.in

If you enjoyed reading about Ajrakh, you may also like reading about Kalamkari, check this:

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