The term “Ajrak”, may be derived from “Azrak”, meaning blue in Arabic, as blue happens to be the one of the principal colours in Ajrak printing. But the popular story among artisans is that the name is derived from the phrase “aajrakh”, meaning “keep it for today”. Ajrakh, as the particular print is called, is the result of a long and laborious process. One of the main differences between Ajrakh and the normal block printing found elsewhere is the ‘resist’ technique.

Traditional Ajrakh printing involves various stages of dyeing and resist printing using natural dyes and mordents, is a 16-stage process which takes anywhere between 2-3 weeks, depending on the number of colours and layers of block print designs used.

Ajrakh is printed as single sided (ekpuri) and double sided (bipuri). Indigo and madder are the primary colours that are used for dyeing. Tamarind seed powder and alum makes red, turmeric makes yellow, and lime is used for white.The resist and some colours are printed on the cloth using carved wooden blocks. These blocks are carved with intricate symmetrical patterns so that the same block can be used for both sides of the cloth.

The Process

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