Ajrakh Block Print Art

This is a photoessay on the art of block printing called 'Ajrakh'. The process described here, is the same for any block print art. The speciality of Ajrakh is that they use specific patterns with several colors. Dyeing with several colors one after the other, requires precision. All dyes are natural - vegetable as well as other natural origin such as iron.

Entering Ajrakhpur

The Mastercraftsman - a man I respect tremendously for his art and his philosophy

The Starting Point - plain cotton bales

The first treatment

The inventory of blocks - each with a unique pattern

Selecting a block

When the student is ready, the teacher appears.....

Creating a pattern, one block stamp at a time...

Preparing the dye

Wells of dye

After dyeing

Sun drying

Front and back

Demonstrating that the background dye does not affect the blocked art print

The pieces above were meant to be single color prints so the process ended there.If additional colors are used, part of this process is repeated, to produce this

and this

and this

An article of clothing called the 'ajrakh' is specially used locally mainly by the men. It is unique in the fact that the block printing is done on both sides of the cloth, again with precision that requires the design to be matched on both sides of the cloth.

This means that if you place your finger on a red petal on one side of the cloth, and poke a hole through the cloth, your finger will emerge out of a red petal printed on the other side !

a terrible image of a wonderful textile

Contrast the double sided print with the single sided print below

These textiles are worked upon in two parts and stitched together along the length in the center.

Ajrakh work continues on both sides of the India - Pakistan border, with minor evolutionary variations.

A few ajrakh works are also available in the wovensouls collection.

jm

p.s. My guide was a young dealer from Bhuj, who sold me some antique pieces at an exhibition in Bombay. We connected, and out of sheer hospitality, he invited me to visit Kutch someday. 'Someday' a few months later, I arranged to go to Kutch and he showed me around all of Kutch urban and rural, that on my own I may never have discovered. If you wish to connect with him do write to me.

Read a similar article on Hmong Batik Art here




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