History- Revisiting the old lanes of Kutch
The traces of Ajrak can be found in the Indus Valley Civilisation that existed around 2500BC-1500BC.Similar artifacts are found in the Al-Fostat excavation in the Nile Delta near Cairo, Egypt. In India, it was believed to be practiced by the Khatri community living on the banks of river Sindh(Indus in present-day Pakistan).
During the 16th century, the families practicing Ajrakh have migrated to Kutch from Sindh, when the king of kutch fell in love with the craft and invited the artisans to settle in this region. The artisans include potters, printers, dyers, and embroidered
After 400 years, in 1989, the river, well, water resources in the region dry. And when the massive earthquake in kutch in 2001 forced the block printers to relocate from the region. They found their new homes in Ajrakpur, a village built as relief measures by NGO's for the artisans. Over one hundred families started their new lives in Ajrakpur, generating income through the craft of Ajrak printing.
Today Ajrak printing is been practiced in Kutch, and Khavda, Dhamadka, and Barmer in Rajasthan, and in some regions of Gujarat..
Ajrakh Printing- The process of bringing nature into the fabric
Ajrak is a block-printing technique using natural dye done practicing the resist-dyed method. The use of indigo and madder is the base of Ajrak print. Ajrak designs are inspired by the Mughal culture and are a beautiful mirror for our rich-old heritage. Said to signify the universe because of the color palette used in the designs. Ajrak printing is a truthful symbol of Sindi culture and tradition. In most of the printing process, the color is applied directly to the fabric but in Ajrak block printing, the fabric is firstly printed with a resist paste and then the dying process took place. The same process is repeated several times with intricate patterns and the dominating hues of red and blue. It is generally printed on both sides. Most of the dye colors are usually process through vegetables or minerals. Ajrak block printing is an eco-friendly and sustainable craft that resides in the symphony with nature. Borrowing the inspiration from the lap of mother earth.
Though the whole process took days and nights. It involves each people working in printing and washing individually. Being nature the soul of this block printing process, it resides in each step. From herbal colors to artisans working on harmony with the sun, river, animals, trees, and mud."Churrai" process describes the first step of the process i.e, washing to remove all dirt and impurities. Then the fabric is soaked in the special solution of camel dung, soda ash, and castor oil. Then it is made to be rested under the sun for 7-8 days until the cloth foams when rubbed. It is then washed with plain water.
The next process is printing. The printers usually do the printing on both sides of the fabric. Often refer as resist printing which is usually done by wooden hand-carved blocks.
The last process is the washing of the final fabric water, soda, and bleaching powder to brighten up the colors immersed in the fabric.
Block Making- The First Footprint
The wood used in Ajrak block printing is usually made of the plane, peer, and sycamore. Made in varied sizes, shapes, with a thickness of 2 to 3 inches to make it easy for the printers. The side portions of the woods are left uncarved. The patterns carved in these blocks are usually traditional and are borrowed by the times of Mohenjo-Daro. The designs can also be customized depending upon the needs of the users. But the beauty of Ajrak block printing is often found in the intricate and rich patterns inspired by ancient times. The artisans still used the techniques of their ancestors to breathe originality in the designs. The use of organic, sustainable colors that are derived from nature. The primary colors of Ajrak block printing are red, yellow, black, and blue.
Chidiyaa's anecdote with Ajrakh Block Printing:
"Deep down in the earth,
Still, breathes the panorama of
Adam and Eve,
Still, weaved the tales of,
King and Queen,
Still, the songs of springs pick the rhyme
from the autumn leaves,
Still the rain dances on the dried grieves,
Behind the mountains,
under the rainbow,
among the stars
you and me!"
Chidiyaa always inspires the dainty and serene beauties that dwell in nature. Our designs are usually inspired by the little joys of life. We let the method of Ajrakh block printing traditionally infuse in the fabric. The block designs are first created and design then it is been placed on the fabric organically or in an abstract flow. The typical repeat used in Ajrak block printing is also done in some of our designs. We believe in creating poise and cheerful designs for the women of Chidiyaa. With the method involved is highly sustainable and socially conscious. Our working environment belongs to artisans who support and follow the SOP of sustainability. You can find the prose of Ajrakk block printing in Chidiyaa sarees, dresses, kurtis ad bottoms. Below we have picked our most loved designs.