Hand Block Printing - Ajrak of Rajasthan

In Rajasthan, there are sandy stretches of desert where a unique method of cloth-dyeing prevails. The technique is called Ajrakh and the print is in dark shades of blue and red with geometrical patterns on both sides of the fabric. The technique is a complicated one and the steps include preparatory washing, application of mordant, resist printing, de-gumming, and dyeing. The resist substances used are gach (a mud resist) and kariyana, which is a mixture of the gum of the babul tree and chuna or lime. The lime provides a smooth texture and prevents the resist from cracking.

After the final dyeing the cloth is sun-dried. It is dipped every night in a cow-dung solution and kept under a stone all night. Washing is done the next morning in the river and the drying is done on the sand. When half-dry, water is sprinkled on the cloth continuously. On the third day, the cloth is finally washed in the river, brought to the work-place and dried.