Traditional Sindhi Ajrak Shawl
Ajraks are traditional woodblock-printed 'shawls' commonly used in Sindh, Pakistan; Kutch, Gujarat; and Barmer, Rajasthan in India. These shawls display special designs and patterns made using block printing by stamps. Common colors used while making these patterns may include but are not limited to blue, red, black, yellow, and green. Ajrak craft products are made with natural dyes. The entire production of the products includes both vegetable dyes and mineral dyes. Indigo is the key dye.
It is said that the people of Indus Valley Civilization who lived along the sides of River Indus in the Sindh region, were among the first to cultivate the cotton plant, harvested cotton, made threads from it and mastered the art of fabric making. It is from here the craft of fabric making spread to most of the known world and the South East Asian Batik may well be the variation of ajrak!
The origin of the Ajrak dates back to ancient times around 2500 BC – 1500 BC. The statue of King-Priest, quarried from Mohenjo-Daro, shows him draped with a shawl over his shoulder – adorned with a trefoil pattern (like a three-leafed clover) sprinkled with small circles filled with a red color. This symbol illustrates what is believed to be an edifice depicting the fusion of the three sun-disks of the gods of the sun, water, and the earth. Excavations elsewhere in the Old World around Mesopotamia have yielded similar patterns appearing on various objects, most notably on the royal couch of Tutankhamen. Similar patterns appear in recent ajrak prints.
Over the years, ajraks have become a symbol of the Sindhi culture and traditions.
Making of Ajrak
There are about 18-19 steps involved in ajrak making. First, the fabric is washed and cleansed and it's called "Churrai". The fabric is then soaked in a special solution made of Soda Bicarb and a special oil, which is a very complicated procedure that lasts several days. Both sides of the fabric are hand-printed using hand-carved wooden blocks. At the end of the production procedure, the finished ajraks are washed in Soda and water with some bleaching powder, to give it bright colors.
- Item: Sindhi Ajrak. Hand-painted; two panels of cloth are stitched together using embroidery
- Design: Classic traditional design
- Quality: Superior (Best quality)
- Approximate Size: Average approximate size of any Ajrak is 235 cm (range 228-238) x 170 cm (range 155-180)