CRAFTS OF INDIA / AJRAKH PRINTING / HISTORY
How Ajrak evolved in history
The art of block printing in India had a heavy Mughal influence when it came to motifs, especially in the 17th century. Ajrak printing evolved as a parallel form of printing. The early settlers in Sindh and India lived along the Indus river sometime in 3300 BCE. The water from the river was a wonderful resource for cotton and indigo plants that grew along its banks which then became an integral part of the process of printing on fabrics. Cotton was a good fabric which had good adhesion quality and the indigo color so plentifully available formed a new way of decorating fabrics. The current hand block printing is a radical modification over time, of the way block printing was done and the effects it brought out on textiles in the initial period when it commenced.
Apart from these settlers, there were some who were practicing ajrakh printing in Kutch and further down in Barmer, Rajasthan in the 16th century. Whether there was any communication between the various parties involved in the craft is not very clear. But historically these were the initial examples of ajrak printing.
The British Raj saw some communities in Gujarat excel in this art that gave them a new avenue for earning their livelihood. Before the earthquake in January, 2001, Dhamadka was a central hub in Bhuj, Gujarat. Its destruction gave rise to a newly formed Govt. and private combined initiative named Ajrakhpur, that continued the tradition as before.