Ajrakh Block Printers of Kutch

Posted By: Robin Birch On: Friday, November 4, 2016 Comment: 0 Hit: 263

Dhamadka is one of only three villages in the Kutch region of Gujarat where the traditional art of ajrakh block printing is still being practised. 

Its a time consuming art which requires patience, diligence and vision - a single piece will take up to three weeks to complete.

Almost the whole clan takes part in the process, and this is immediately obvious, with bright indigo, green and mustard yellow cloths drying out in one area and men whacking wet cloths at the washing ghats at another. Others are supervising foul smelling brews of jaggery and scrap iron to make black dye, and all seem to sport dark blue indigo-stained hands.

There are around 14 different stages of resist-printing and dyeing in the creation of each piece, and typically 20 or more engraving blocks are utilised in the process. In between each stage, the fabric is washed, thoroughly beaten to remove excess dye and soften the fibres, and then laid out to dry in readiness for the next step.

Typically, ajrakh designs conform to Islamic principles of complex geometric and non-figurative designs. Sometimes floral styles can be seen as well as patterns based on old coins. Natural dyes are used, and colour schemes favour indigo, black, red and white or cream.

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