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CRAFTS OF INDIA / AJRAKH PRINTING / MOTIFS -1
AJRAKH PRINTING
Special motifs and colors of Ajrak

Like mentioned earlier, Ajrak symbolizes nature and its bounty. Traditional colors of Ajrak prints were deep, intense and represented qualities of Nature. e.g. crimson red for earth, indigo blue for twilight etc. Black and white were used sparingly and only to outline motifs and give definition. It started with colors from elements in nature, like indigo or blue from the indigo plant, red from alizarin found in roots of madder plants, black from iron shavings, molasses and millet flour with the addition of tamarind seeds to thicken the color or dye.

Today with the availability of these naturally found substances not sufficient to meet the demand, synthetic, eco-friendly dyes are in use, which has also brought in other colors like orange, yellow and rust which create vibrancy. But the ethnic practitioners still continue with the traditional substances as well.

Traditional motifs, passed down from generations have kept the elements of nature like stars, flowers, leaves etc. still alive today but included some new ones as well. The trefoil or three leaved graphic design that symbolizes the unification of three states of matter, the sun, water and earth have been found in architecture, religious symbols and heraldic emblems and with a modern version in the universal recycling symbol. All motifs in Ajrak printing are built around a central point and repeated across the fabric in a grid-like manner. Thus a design of horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines make up beautiful intended designs.

Present day fashion and Ajrak prints

Contemporary Indian fashion designers have effortlessly fused traditional ajrak with modern tastes. The skull motif that was once popularised in both high-end and high-street fashion, features in a line of ajrak printed jackets. Though skull imagery is associated with death, the jackets did catch the fancy of the market for the fusion of tradition and modern innovation, expressing the innate understanding of the designer‘s imagination and the enormous talent in highlighting the art of ajrak printing in contemporary times.