Know your Fabrics
Ajrakh’s name is derived from 'azarak' meaning 'blue' in Arabic. It finds it origin from the Sindh region in India and was introduced in the Mughal period. It is a block-printed textile that is made using natural dyes namely indigo (blue) and madder (red), though now many colors are used. An Ajrakh print is identified by its complex geometric and floral patterns. A remarkable feature of ajrakh print is that on a single fabric, resist printing along with other printing and dyeing techniques are used in combination. The whole process is repeated on both sides of the fabric in perfect cohesion which calls for unsurpassed skill. Ajrakh uses mud-resist in the various stages and another unique feature is that the dyeing and printing is repeated twice on the fabric to ensure brilliance of colour. Superimposing the repeats is done perfectly thus revealing a sense of detail in every motif designed.
Handblock / Dabu
Hand block printing is a 500 year old Indian art form that involves printing using a hand carved teak wood block that is dipped in dye and stamped by hand onto cotton or silk fabric. The block design is usually based on plants and nature, however newer quirky motif designs have also been used. The fabric to be block printed is first, laid flat on a table and fixed firmly to the table with pins. Four to five basic natural colors are used that are then mixed together to form a multitude of colors. The block is then dipped in the dye and stamped firmly by hand onto the fabric by master craftsmen. Finally, the fabric is rinsed and then dried. Since the block printing is done by hand, small variations in the print can be noticed which only adds to the charm of these handmade fabrics.
Ikat fabrics are popular for their rich colors and distinct beautiful designs.
Making an Ikat is a labor intensive process as it involves hand weaving through narrow looms. This style of weaving uses a resist dyeing process that is similar to tie-n-dye.The difference is that in tie-n-dye the dying process is applied on the fabric, whereas in ikat, the dyeing process in done on the yarn itself. It uses the warp or the weft technique to weave a pattern or design. The craftsmen first ties bundles of tie-n-dye warp threads to the loom in a pattern that matches the planned fabric design. Then, he weaves the weft thread through, and the fabric design emerges. When both warp and weft are tie-dyed then it is called double Ikat and it requires great mastery and skill. The yarn bleed or the blurriness of the design is the identifying factor in an original ikat.
Kalamkari is the earliest and more complex techniques of block-printing on cloth using vegetable dyes.The origin of the word kalamkari is from kalam meaning pen and kari meaning art. Kalamkari designs are known for its floral and animal motifs. The Persian influence on the designs is visible from ornamental birds, flowers, creepers, and mehrabs or archways are inspired from Mughal Architecture.