A laborious craft with hand block printing done on both sides of the fabric, the name ajrakh has many stories. Be it a king’s wish to keep his bedspread for one more day (‘aaj ke din rakh’) or finding its etymology in Sanskrit (A-jharat) and Arabic (Azrak), Ajrakh finds its roots in present day Sindh. The craft flourished around the Indus River as water was an important resource for growing Indigo and for various processes of Ajrakh.

This community of artisans is believed to be the descendants of King Rama. The craft was later recognized by the King of Kutch who invited the craftsmen to settle in Kutch. Around 400 years ago, the craftsmen migrated to Kutch. Two generations later, Khatri Brahmins converted to Islam and settled in Dhamadka for its proximity to a water body. After 400 years of extensive use, the river dried. But, it was the earthquake in 2001 that forced the artisans to relocate. Finally, they settled in the quaint village of Ajrakhput to carry their legacy forward.

The ancient textiles excavated at Fustat in Egypt are believed to be Ajrakh. Another evidence of this craft being centuries old is an excavated idol of King Priest from Mohenjo-Daro. The idol is draped in a trefoil pattern believed to be the Kakkar motif of Ajrakh. The traditional motifs include morpeech, badam buto, mohar, mifudi, champakali, kharekh, keri, mohar, koyyaro, pencho, riyal, paisley, trefoil etc. The underlying inspiration for these motifs has been symmetrical geometry, natural vegetation, sky and starry constellations. This textile was the traditional clothing of Gujarat’s Kachchi Muslim Maldhaari community.




The process of Ajrakh begins with the preparation of natural dyes like Indigo, Madder, various vegetable dyes and carved wooden blocks.


The starch is removed from the fabric by boiling it in water.


Mordanting is done with myrobalan


The different stages of printing begin: KHARIYANU (resist printing with gum arabic and lime to achieve a white outline), KAT (printing with a mixture of jaggery, iron scrap and tamarind seed powder for black outline) and GACH (resist printing with gum arabic, alum and clay).


After printing, the fabric is dyed with Indigo. The fabric is washed to remove excess dyes and resists applied during printing.


The fabric is boiled with Alizarine for red color in areas where Gach printing was done. For other colors, the fabric is dyed in a hot bath and is fixed with the help of a mordant.