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Dhamadka And Ajrakh

In olden times, clothing was considered to be just a need aimed at protecting us from the cold, heat, rain and snow. But in our cultured society, clothes are very important, unclothed body is considered to be ugly and uncultured. Man has been striving constantly to bring about changes in the kind of clothes to wear. Over the years Indian textile has undergone a tremendous change.

India is known for its equality in diversity, this diversity can be seen even in the textiles and costumes across the country. As per the various climatic conditions and soil, each area in India produces different type of textiles. The western part of India is known to have a mix of climates that prevails all over India; it is here that one can find the finest quality of textile printing and embroidery designs.

Gujarat – a tourists’ famous place from the western part of India, offers the best quality of printed and embroidered textiles which has formed a part of the traditional Indian culture. Gujarat has an affluent heritage of handicrafts and patterned textiles that are unique to the state. The hand-block printing is distinctive to the state and the patterns are extremely beautiful.

Evolution Of A Beautiful Piece Of Art

Gujarat is known for its unique handicrafts and textiles. Among the woven, embroidered or bandhini, the hand block printed fabrics have made their own special place here. The hand block printing is preserved and practiced in the traditional way. The famous Ajrakh hand block printing is done widely in the village of Dhamadka, situated about 50 Kms from Bhuj, and the Ajrakh hand block printing has become the main source of income.

The Ajrakh printing came into Dhamadka from Sindh 400 years ago with the Khatris or artisans who came to the village. Since then it has been practiced widely in this village. Almost everyone in this village participates in creating this highly skilled and beautifully patterned block printing.

The Ajrakh block printing involves tedious, time consuming and lengthy process which includes a lot of procedures to be followed. Water is most essential aspect in the preparation of Ajrakh clothes. The clothes are processed through long thirty steps procedure.  Each step has a special place in the enhancement of colours and shades. It is said that the longer the artisan waits before starting of each step in the process the better the designs would be. Once the clothes are ready, they have to again undergo 14 to 16 steps of printing and dyeing. Each artisan follows his own technique and process. Only natural dyes are used in Ajrakh printing, they are made using age old techniques which are practiced and perfected over many centuries.

As with every art, Ajrakh printing is also associated with the location and its people. This is considered to be one of the oldest printing method and also the most complex and sophisticated methods used in India.  After the devastating earth quake in the year 2001, many artisans from the village have relocated to Dhamadka and Ajrakhpur.  This tragedy brought the khatris or artisans to closer to each other for rebuilding their lives. Now, Khatris live and create Ajrakh art living in both the villages.

Designs in Fabrics in Ajrakh

Even though, the use of natural dyes has become less with the introduction of chemical dyes, Ajrakh’s artisans still use natural dyes only. They use a combination of about fifty Ajrakh blocks which are hand craved. These blocks were traditionally used to decorate and print the clothes like pagdis and lungiesfor Sindhi men in the pastoral community in their village. For the women printed skirts were made and are printed Malir fabrics. These clothes used to be considered as their status symbol while each design and colour on the fabric tells a story.

The Ajrakh printing uses traditionally designed blocks and mostly four basic colours like red, blue, green and yellow are used. With the increase in the demand in the contemporary market, Ajrakh kurta sets, scarves, bed covers and more are introduced.

The Features Of Ajrakh

The interesting feature of Ajrakh printing is – a combination resist printing and other advanced printing techniques on a single fabric with same design. This same process is repeated on the both sides of the fabric in the same flow which needs great skills. Moreover, to make sure that colour doesn’t fade easily the printing and dyeing process are repeated twice. Mostly in Ajrakh, vegetable dyes are used and these fabrics come in red and blue background. So it is easy to identify. The designs are mainly a combination of floral and geometrical patterns. Thanks to its eco friendly and hand-made manufacturing which is the reason for its increasing popularity.

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