Sindh’s Ajrak Cloth
Ajraks are traditional woodblock-printed ‘shawls’ that are frequently worn in Sindh, Pakistan; Kutch, Gujarat; and Barmer, Rajasthan, India. These shawls have unique motifs and patterns created by block printing with stamps. The colors that are frequently utilized to create these patterns include, but are not limited to, blue, red, black, yellow, and green. Natural colors are used to create Ajrak handmade items. The goods are dyed using both vegetable and mineral colors. Indigo is the primary dye used.
According to legend, the inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilization, who lived along the banks of the Indus River in the Sindh area, were among the first to nurture the cotton plant, harvest it, make threads from it, and perfect the skill of fabric manufacturing. It is from here that the skill of fabric manufacturing spread throughout the majority of the known world, and the South East Asian Batik may very well be a variant of ajrak!
The Ajrak originated in ancient times between 2500 BC and 1500 BC. The statue of King-Priest, excavated at Mohenjo-Daro, depicts him draped with a shawl over his shoulder – ornamented with a trefoil design (similar to a three-leafed clover) sprinkled with little red circles. This emblem depicts what is thought to be a structure symbolizing the union of the sun, water, and earth gods’ three sun disks. Similar designs have been discovered on a variety of artifacts across the Old World, most famously on Tutankhamen’s royal sofa. Similar motifs can be found in contemporary ajrak prints.
Ajraks have evolved into a symbol of Sindhi culture and custom throughout time.
How is Ajrak produced?
Ajrak is made in around 18-19 stages. To begin, the cloth is washed and cleaned, the process is known as “Churrai”. After that, the cloth is immersed in a specific solution composed of soda bicarbonate and a special oil, a lengthy process that takes several days. The cloth is manually printed on both sides using hand-carved wooden blocks. At the conclusion of the manufacturing process, the finished ajraks are washed in soda and water with a little bleaching powder to restore their vibrant hues.