Ajrak is a traditional Sindhi shawl.
Ajraks are traditional woodblock-printed shawls that are popular in Sindh, Pakistan, Kutch, Gujarat, and Barmer, Rajasthan, India. These shawls have unique motifs and patterns created by stamp block printing. Colors commonly utilized in the creation of these designs include, but are not limited to, blue, red, black, yellow, and green. Natural colors are used in the production of Ajrak handmade goods. The goods’ total output comprises both vegetable dyes and mineral colors. Indigo is the primary color.
The people of the Indus Valley Civilization, who lived along the banks of the Indus River in the Sindh area, are thought to have been among the first to cultivate the cotton plant, harvest cotton, make threads from it, and master the skill of fabric making. From here, the skill of cloth-making spread across the majority of the known world, and southeast Asian Batik may be a variant of ajrak!
The Ajrak’s origins may be traced back to about 2500 BC – 1500 BC. The Mohenjo-Daro King-Priest statue depicts him wrapped with a shawl over his shoulder, decorated with a trefoil design (similar to a three-leafed clover) scattered with little circles filled with a crimson tint. This sign depicts what is thought to be an edifice symbolizing the merger of the three sun-disks of the sun, water, and earth gods. Excavations in the Old World in Mesopotamia have revealed similar patterns on numerous artifacts, and most notably Egyptian PharoahTutankhamen’s royal sofa had similar designs. A similar pattern may be found in current ajrak prints too.
Ajraks have been a symbol of Sindhi culture and customs over the years.
Ajrak is made in around 18-19 stages. First, the cloth is cleaned and washed, and it is referred to as “Churrai.” The cloth is then immersed in a specific solution consisting of Soda Bicarb and a special oil, a lengthy process that takes several days. The cloth is hand-printed on both sides with hand-carved wooden blocks. The completed ajraks are washed in soda and water with bleaching powder at the completion of the manufacturing process to give them vivid hues.