What is Ajrak printing?

One of the most ancient in the traditional art of printing on fabrics, Ajrak prints are a distinguishable form of wood block printing that seems to find its roots or influences in the Indus Valley Civilization. Sindh in Pakistan and neighbouring districts of Kutch in Gujarat and Barmer in Rajasthan are where this amazing print art originally began and still flourishes to this day, though other districts in Gujarat and Rajasthan have also become familiar with this craft and practicing.

Akin to block printing

Ajrak printing is wooden hand block printing that involves exquisite designs etched in the wooden block, the difference suggested in the name from the extensive use of the pre-dominant color Ajrak, from the Arabic word Azrak, meaning ‘indigo’ or ‘blue’. The design block is dipped in dye and the designs neatly printed on cotton & silk fabrics.

Traditionally ajrak printing is a celebration of what Nature provides through raw materials and resources and symbolized through colors and motifs. The colors of red from extracts of the madder plant and the blue from that of the indigo plant are mostly the colors used in the prints on fabrics. Motifs generally found are geometric jewel like shapes that contain the stars and flowers that Nature provides. The trefoil of three sun discs fused together represent the inseparable unity of sun, water and earth.