Alizarin, Madder, Parijaat, Natural Dye, Bagh Print, Ajrakh, Puru Print, Hand block print, Dabu

Monday, 3 April 2017

Ajrakh Story

Ajrakh Print Story

One of the oldest technique of hand block printing in the World

Ajrakh print is one of the oldest known technique of hand block printing. Its history traces back to 2500 B.C. at the time of Harappa and Mohe Jo Daro. It is to be said that few of the statues found in these places wearing shawl depicting Ajrakh print.

It was mainly practiced in Sindh region of today's Pakistan by "Khatri" community. It spreaded to various parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan due to migration of few families in search of new markets and places to avoid stiff competition.

There are interesting versions of Ajrakh print story told by craftsmen of Gujarat and Rajasthan. The common is that "Ajrakh" is an Arabic word which is used for "Universe" or "Blue" color.

Story told by National Awardee Shri Ranmal Khatriji to us, who migrated from Sindh region of Pakistan at the time of partition to Barmer in Rajasthan. He narrated that 2000 years ago basically four natural colors used in Ajrakh print were red, black, yellow and Indigo. Primarily geometrical designs including Stars and the Sun and domination of indigo blue color (Also a color of sky) in the process looks like universe has created on the fabric and when for the first time Arabic businessmen from Mesopotamia saw this, instantly called "ye to ajrakh hain" (Oh this is Ajrakh) and since then it is known as Ajrakh to the world.

He also added that #Ajrakh printing was also done on the both sides of the fabric in similar manner like "Batik" mainly on "Lungi" for men so that it can be wore by either of the sides. But today it is a very costly affair to print on one side so both side printing is a matter of past.

Another version of the #Ajrakh story told by Dr. Ishmailji Khatri of Ajrakhpur and it is a common to all the Ajrakh lovers.
In discussion with us he told us that it was traded to Arab countries in the past from Sindh region and Ajrakh meaning in Arabic language is "Blue", so it is known as Ajrakh to the world. His another version behind #Ajrakh is "aaj hi rakh" (Keep it today) is also behind the name "Ajrakh" used for this beautiful hand block printing art.

In the past mainly geometrical designs were used by Ajrakh craftsmen but today variety of modern and floral designs introduced in Ajrakh printing.

History of Traditional Borsali Design

Borsali Design

Borsali” is a very famous design printed by hand block printers of Tarapur among the tribal of Madhya Pradesh & Rajasthan and used for Odhni (Shawl) only. Whenever you visit tribal area of Ratlam & Banswada you will find tribal women wearing a shawl of specific design known as “Borsali”.

“Borsali” is a very popular traditional design printed on the “Odhani” (Shawl) wore by tribal women of Ratlam district in Madhya Pradesh & Banswada district of Rajasthan. Borsali also known as “Bhindi” (Lady Finger) bhat (Design) as told by local veteran craftsman Akram Bhai working under the Master Craftsman Pawan Jhariya in Tarapur. The reason behind calling it “Bhindi” is because this design looks like the same when we cut the lady finger.

Borsali Tree

Pic Source: Google

Still we were clue less about the exact reason behind its name “Borsali” and then we did some more research about the name. We found that “Borsali” is a Gujarati name of a tree of herbal importance. It is known as “Bakula” in Hindi and common name is Bullet tree and Bakul. Interestingly the flower and fruit of Borsali or Bakul tree looks like that Borsali design is inspired from it.

Inside Borsali Fruit

Pic Credit/ Source: Google

Traditional hand block printers were very close to the nature and took inspiration from it whether it is matter of design or color. Today’s generation of traditional hand block printers also strives to keep alive the same tradition with limited scope.

It is still printed by hand block printers of Tarapur for tribal but quality does not matter because of price involved in it and tribal do not have that much paying capacity. Designs are not printed with caution and cotton fabric used is not of very good quality. It is just a matter of keeping the tradition alive and getting work done for minimum wages.

Borsali Odhni

Hand Block Printer Using Borsali Design Block