Friday, May 27, 2011

Ajrakh Block Printing, Gujarat

Now in the Kutch area, we visited two towns engaged in block printing. The Arabic name Ajrakh denotes the blue color, an essential component of this style. Typically there is a central design surrounded by a series of borders including around the periphery. In both places we observed in Dhamanka and Khavda, machine spun cotton cloth was used. After the cloth was washed to remove sizing, a pre-mordant was added to increase color intensity. The color of the cloth was preserved through the printing of a resist consisting of line, gum, and water. In one place, they sprinkled sawdust used to strengthen the resist. Both sides of the cloth are printed. The black outlines of the design and then stamped, with the color being made from rested iron and Jaggery (raw cane sugar). Read is then printed using alum as a mordant. The cloth is then boiled in a mixture containing Alizarine or madder root, after which it is dried in the sun. Other colors are then added in order to achieve the desired color combinations and depth. For each color, the cloth is both printed and dyed. To achieve green, pomegranate shells with yellow made from a local nut are combined. Although natural indigo is sometimes used, synthetic colors are now common. In all, the fabric is typically washed 13 to 14 times. Around 20 different wooden printing blocks would be used. Some of the cloth we saw was destined for Fab India and others for international markets.

For more information on Ajrakh block printing, visit:

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