Ajrakh is a hand block printing and dyeing tradition practiced by Khatri artisans in Kutch, Gujarat.
There are a few interesting theories on the origin of the name of this craft. The first one goes something like this, there was a king once who loved to change his sheets every day. Artisans were exhausted making new sheets. One day an artisan presented the King with a sheet he had been working on using a new technique of craft, the King liked the sheet so much that the next day he told the housekeeper ‘Aaj Rakh’ or keep it for the day
Our Ajrakh artisans however, have another thought on the origin of the name, the process of making Ajrakh involves many days and each layer of cloth is printed after a gap of time, so the cloth has to stay for the day, hence, ‘Aaj ke din rakh’ or keep it for the day. It is also believed that the craft draws its name from the Arabic word for blue that is Azrak.
Ajrakh artisans were primarily based out of Dhamadka due to the proximity to the Dhamadka river which would provide the craft with its essential ingredient: water. However, post the cataclysmic earthquake of Bhuj, the artisans have now made Ajrakhpur their atelier and home. Water is scarce and artisans are exploring new ways to use and recycle water here.
Artisans print using hand carved wooden blocks and dye fabric in vats, to layer motif and colour over several days to craft richly hued patterned textiles. These fabrics, traditionally crafted for nomadic pastoralists, usually have intricate geometric and stylized floral motifs that are said to represent the cosmos. By applying age-old wisdom, handcrafting techniques, and working with natural resources, Ajrakh textiles are a testament to sustainable practices in textile making