Ajrakh: Craft since The Indus Valley Civilization

Ajrakh is an ancient block-printing method on textiles that originated in the present day provinces of Sindh in Pakistan but its roots extended to the states of Barmer, Rajasthan and Kutch, Gujarat in India during the times of the Indus Valley Civilisation, around 3000 BC.  The river was huge source of water for washing & its raw materials cotton & indigo.

The faric is washed 7-8 times to remove excess starch. Soaked in camed dung, sods ash &  castor oil and washed repeatedly.  This process is called SAAJ.It is then soaked in Myrobalan (Morbant), powdered nut of Harde Tree and sun dried. It is then washed and made ready for printing. This is called KASANO.

1. Ready for Resist printing

A resist of lime (used for whitewash) and gum arabic (Babool tree resin) is printed onto the cloth to outline the design motifs that will be white. The resist is printed to both sides of the cloth using carved wooden blocks. The resist here protects particular design from absorbing color, keeping it white.

 2. Khariyanu

Scrap iron, jaggery is mixed with water and left for about 20 days. This makes the water ferrous. This ferrous water is then mixed with tamarind seed powder and boiled into a paste. This paste is used for black printing. This paste is called Kat. The paste is printed onto both sides of the cloth.

 3. KAT

Alum, clay and gum arabic are mixed into a paste used for the next resist printing. A resist of lime and gum arabic is also printed at this time. This combined stage is called as Gach. Sawdust or finely powdered cow dung is sprinkled on to the printed areas to protect the clay from smudging.


The cloth is dyed in indigo. It is dried in the sun and then dyed again in indigo twice to ensure a uniform colour. The cloth is washed thoroughly to remove all of the resist print and unfixed dye.

5. Indigo Dyeing

The yellow color is the Alum residue.

6. The left side id alum residue, which afterbeing boiled with Alizarine becomes bright red.

The cloth is then boiled with Alizarine (synthetic madder) to give the alum-residue areas a bright red colour. Alum acts as a mordant to help fix the red colour. The grey areas from the black printing stages get a deep shade.

For other colours the cloth is boiled with a different dye. Madder root (Sanskrit. Manjishtha root) gives an orange colour, Henna gives a light yellowish-green colour, and Rhubarb root gives a pale brownish colour.

8. Final Result