School of Design

ULITA - an Archive of International Textiles

Ajrakh samples: stages of production
Date: c 2000
Related People:
Dimensions: Other: 96 x 18 cm (37 13/16 x 7 1/16 in.)
Medium: cotton, paper, natural dyes and clay resist
Made in: India, Dhamadaka
Description: 16 samples depicting the stages in Ajrakh block printing, attached to paper descriptions, all samples are in brown, indigo, black, red or cream, and show the same pattern of different widths of border stripes. Described as 1. plain white washed cloth; 2. Cloth dyed in myrobolan; 3. Resist printing on one side "Ajrakh", "Rehn" block; 4. Resist printing on both sides, "Ajrakh", "rekh" block; 5. Iron printing (black), "Dattlo" block; 6. Printing of alum, "Kunn" block; 7. Red clay and alum printing, "Dattlo" block; 8. First indigo dyeing; 9. Cloth after being washed; 10. Cloth dyed in alizarin; 11. Cloth dyed in madder root; 12. Red clay and alum printing ("meenakari"), "Dattlo" block; 13. Second indigo dyeing; 14. Cloth after being washed; 15. Cloth boiled and dyed in alizarin; 16. Cloth boiled and dyed in madder root. Ajrakh (which means "keep it today") is a traditional method of printing on to cotton fabric practised in Sindh, Kutch and Western Rajasthan. Fourteen stages are needed to achieve the pattern/ design, involving resist dyeing, mordanting, and direct block printing. Natural dyes are used, with several soaking, drying and dyeing cycles. This requires a ready source of water. Ajrakh cloth is used for all needs; tablecloth, blanket, turban, even as a hammock, as well as for change-of-life ceremonies- births, marriages, and death. It is traditionally worn by Muslim men; Sindhi men wear an ajrakh shoulder cloth over one shoulder. Indigo (indigofera-tinctoria) produces the blue dye used, and alizarin (red) is derived from the root of the Indian Madder tree. Mordants such as wood ash or stale urine were traditionally used to aid the permanence of the red colour. The design is geometric, and may be printed on one or both sides.
Inv. No.: 2008.58

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