Every dusty road trip that we made into the small villages in Kutch, Gujarat turned into a journey marveling at the abundance of traditional art & crafts of the region.

One fact that really stood out was the high density of different traditional crafts in the Kutch region of Gujarat. One afternoon we understood the intricacies of the Mutwa embroidery in Dordo village, next evening we were engulfed in a colorful world of vegetable dyes used in block-printing in Kukma Village.

Ajrakhpur, near Kukma is where the tradition of Ajrakh block printing is kept alive by the Khatri community, whose ancestors came from the Sindh region in Pakistan.

Dr. Ismail Mohammad Khatri is one of the few left who carry on this tradition of laborious but beautiful craft of Ajarkh printing.

Carrying forward the tradition, his son Junaid Khatri.

Ajarkh derives it's name from 'Aaj ke din rakh' or keep it for the day, the processing of Ajrakh printing is pretty long drawn with each stage involving many days.
Dr. Khatri explained that the process involved procuring the best cotton fabrics, washing, steaming in copper containers.

The fabric is then soaked in a mixture of dung, oil an water to make it soft. Dried for a couple of days and then re-soaked with other natural ingredients to bleach and make it ready for printing.

Ajarakh uses the process of resist printing in which hand block printing is done on designated areas in the pattern which are pre-treated to resist penetration by the dye.

Natural vegetable dyes like Indigo, Turmeric, Lime, Rice and many others are used to create intricate geometrical block print patterns that are typical of Ajrakh printing.

Block makers who carve these intricate Ajrakh designs are also very few these days.

The intricate patterned blocks stained with natural vegetable dyes.

Wooden Blocks stored in different boxes...

We were amazed at the various designs on the wooden blocks and prayed with all my heart for this wonderful craft to flourish.

I bought this beautiful craft in the form of a dupatta that I will drape with a sense of pride and great respect for these artisans who carry on the age-old laborious craft.

I have tried to style the fabric in my bare home with few interesting finds from a yard sale that I went to last weekend:-)

If you come across Ajrakh blockprinted fabric in any craft fair do buy and support the craftsmen.

The very few left who practice this craft.

(Images by Arch)