Gujarat is a well-known place for tourists for its handicrafts, holy temples, historic capitals, wildlife sanctuaries, beaches, hill resorts, mouth-watering cuisines, traditions and culture and the colourful lifestyle of people.
Gujarat has a rich inheritance of handicrafts. The handicrafts are unique and government and private investors invest in this business to give this craft a boost. One can witness crafts like embroidery, leather work, Bandhani and block printing in Gujarat. As is seen that printing on cloth is a complex and specialized job. The wooden blocks are engraved with the designs needed. There are different techniques for embellishing fabric with dyes. Ajrakh printing is one of them. Ajrakh craft products are made with natural dyes. The products include vegetable dyes and mineral dyes. Indigo is the key dye.
Traditionally, Ajrakh is name for block printed cloth with red and blue indigo background and bearing symmetrical patterns with sparkling white motifs. Ajrakh is derived from word Azrak. This means blue in Arabic and blue happens to be one of the crucial colors in Ajrakh printing.
Ajrakh printing is a unique block printing technique that involves the layering of prints to create unique effects. A blend of natural dye and designs of hand-carved wooden blocks bring a theme like starry nights on fabric. This is one of the oldest printing techniques alive today.
Tools used for Ajrakh Block Printing –
- cotton and silk are used in these block printing.
- Wooden blocks are carved with design patterns.
- Jaggery, tamarind seeds and turmeric are used.
- Containers are used for steam fabric and dye.
- Red Color is used to symbolize earth
- Black Color is used for darkness
- White for clouds
- Warn and cool colors are printed on fabric to steady the body temperature.
This craft was on decline due to modern, quicker methods of printing and bright chemical dyes. The dues are replacing natural, muted colors and this slow and careful process of printing this traditional textile. But due to efforts of master craftsmen and increasing awareness among the urban people as this craft is slowly gaining momentum. Due to environment friendly craft, Ajrakh is gaining visibility in urban areas.