Moving ahead in our hand block printing series another, type of block printing is Ajrakh. Which uses the resist dye technique. The word refers to both the fabric and the technique. The literal meaning of Ajrakh is to keep it today. Ajrakh printing is prevalent in the Kutch region of Gujrat. In Ajrakh printing, natural dyes like indigo and madder. The making of Ajrakh fabric is a very tedious and labor-intensive process. It approximately takes up to 14-21 days to complete a pattern and a piece of cloth. Ajrakh fabrics are differentiated by their colors and highlighted details like blue with red having black highlighted details.
The process of making Ajarakh involves washing the fabric repeatedly with dyes and mordents like lime, harda. Artisans use the technique of resist printing through which color is absorb in the desired area. Resist paste is first applied to the fabric, and then it is dyed. Artisans repeated the process till they get their pattern. The entire process is time-consuming which, makes the cloth expensive.
Geometrical motifs dominate Ajrakh fabric. These geometric motifs symbolize natural elements like flowers, leaves, and stars. The most common motif is the trefoil, which has three sun discs joined together to represent the unity of the gods of earth, water, and sun. The other motifs used are Badam ( almond), chakki, phool, and many other intricate patterns. The borders are called hashiyaya.
A motif is created in the middle and repeated all across the cloth in a grid. Hence horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines make beautiful, eye-catchy Ajrakh fabric.
Artisans use natural and organic colors derived from plants, vegetables like red, blue, black. These colors symbolize nature red, symbolize the earth, blue symbolizes twilight, black and white color highlight the symmetrical design. The blue color is obtained from the indigo plant, red from the madder plant, and Black is obtained from iron shavings, millet flour, and molasses. The contemporary ajrakh prints have intensely vibrant contrasting colors like rust, yellow, orange, and green. But, now with, the availability and demand of other colors, artisans also use synthetic dye. The fabric used in Ajrak printing is usually handwoven Cotton Fabric. Ajrakh printing also is a natural process like other hand block printing methods.
Ajrakh fabric is of two types Ekpuri and Bipuri. If the Ajrakh print is on one side, it is called Ekpuri, and if the print is on both the side of the fabric is called Bipuri. More varieties of block printing loading up soon.