Heard of Ajrakh Printing? Yes? Fine!
No? Well, it is a distinguishable form of wood block printing that has its roots or influences in the ancient Indus Valley Civilization.
Unnati Silks & its love for Ajrakh
There is a passion and a persistent relationship with Nature from the inception of Unnati’s journey that makes it partial to such traditional forms that have especially weathered the battering force of time. Ajrakh printing happens to be one such favourite. Unnati Silks recognizes the worth of Ajrakh, and sees in it the soul of Nature’s creativity that inspires beautiful permutations and combinations.
For the lovers of Ajrakh prints there are several categories in Unnati’s vast collection of traditional handlooms.
Ajrakh Printed sarees
You have the designer Ajrakh printed sarees. The various motifs like mango, the spreading out peacock, a plant leaf, the flame of a lamp are some popular ones that get to be seen often on the body. Interspersed with geometrical shapes and floral patterns, combined imaginatively and in a pleasing manner, the prints that come out captivate. There may be limited colors, the designs are not. Using nature’s generous offerings, blue, red, orange, blue and their various shades, with white emanating from an absence of color together create desirable outcomes. Other colors have also been dabbled with through healthy mixes of different colors and more recently, the use of eco-friendly synthetic dyes have been made. But what has been preserved throughout of the Ajrakh tradition in colors is in creating only earthy hues most times and in the pastel shades.
Cotton and Ajrakh have always gone hand-in-hand and creations turn out brilliant in both execution and look. Despite limitations in colors because of the insistent use of natural colors, the appeal has always been extraordinary.
Ajrakh Printed Kurtas
Traditional might be the Ajrakh process but definitely the outcomes are not. Trendy to the hilt, the ankle reaching Ajrakh Printed Kurtas with their collar and mandarin necks, tasseled experimentations in the centre of the kurta, ¾ sleeve formats, semi-circular cuts at front or back towards the kurta bottom and a judicious use of colors like grey, maroon, green etc. give it class and charisma. Not to mention that the kurta is so fashioned that worn without a bottom would suit brilliantly without anybody looking askance at the absence.
Ajrakh Printed Blouses
This is an array that is so very designer that somebody very traditional in outlook might not recognize that they are Ajrakh Printed blouses.
The colors used still remain the same, but the combinations are brilliant. Lovely boat design necks, piping, three fourth sleeves format, invisible hook fasteners at the back, are an irresistible combination especially when the designer blouses combine well with a wide range of different colored sarees.
Ajrakh Printed Dupattas
The highly creative evolvement from judicious experimentation seems to have paid off well when one sees the outcomes. The simple use of colors red and blue and shades along with the white from absence of color have been excellently made use of, through deft placing of block prints and the results are stupendous considering that they match so very well with kameez of a host of colors like bright orange, burnt orange, peach, violet, magenta, different shades of green and blue, purple and what not. Do try out sometime.
Ajrakh Printed Fabrics
And of course, a whole lot of pieces to explore to make small and bulk purchases in fabrics with Ajrakh Printing. The colors are earthy but vibrant in look. The designs are simple geometric, floral, combos, and imaginative shapes too, that are eye-catching to simple but elegant-looking. Dimensions on an average being of 1 mtr. length and 1.1 mtr. wide for the sample, one could easily go in for lengths in multiples of the sample length, the width being standard, and as for the uses, it is limited only by the budget and creativity of the user.
This is currently the assorted range of the Unnati collection of Ajrakh Prints but ideas are being thrown up, experiments are being conducted and very soon many other innovative ideas could take shape and appear before the market.
Let us just get to know a little about Ajrakh.
Tracing the route of Ajrakh Printing
Ajrakh seems to be from Sindh in Pakistan, though neighbouring Kutch of Gujarat and Barmer of Rajasthan in India, are also claimants to the origin of Ajrakh.
Ajrakh is from the Arabic word Azrak, meaning ‘indigo’ or ‘blue’. Originally when Ajrakh was discovered and block printing started, the design block was dipped in dye and the designs neatly printed on cotton & rarely silk fabrics. So clothes used to have designs and everything appeared blue. Pleasing but monotonous after a time!
When from substances of nature, the color red was discovered, it also lent its presence with the blue, by itself at first and then combined with the blue on the same fabric and within designs also.
This has long continued as a celebration of Mother Nature where blue and red, the pre-dominant colors, represent the Sky and Mother Earth. The motifs generally chosen comprise shapes like the stars, flowers and other elements that are part of Nature.
The early settlers in Sindh and India in 3300 BC who lived along the Indus river, found its water conducive for the growth of cotton and indigo plants. Cotton was a fabric that had good adhesion quality, the indigo color so plentifully available formed a new way of decorating fabrics.
Yes! Once only natural dyes were used, now eco-friendly synthetic dyes are also used for economy.
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 continues the tradition as before. The current day form of Ajrakh printing is a by-product of various influences, very slightly modified to changing market tastes.Traditional colors of Ajrak prints were deep, intense and represented qualities of Nature. Colors came from elements in nature, like indigo or blue from the indigo plant, red from alizarin found in roots of madder plants, black from molasses and millet flour with the addition of tamarind seeds to thicken the color or dye. Today lack of availability has forced the use of synthetic, eco-friendly dyes also, bringing in colors like orange, yellow and rust which create vibrancy.
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. Ajrak prints have found their way on turbans, waist sashes, shawls, dupattas, chaddars, sarees, home furnishings and shawls. The range keeps widening as and when it catches the fancy of the traditional practitioners of the art and the designer industry.
On a lighter note, based on the long travelled and continued journey, “Jab Tak Suraj Chand Rahega, Ajrakh Tera Wajood Rahega” would be apt.