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Ajrak is a Sindhi traditional cloth that traces its origins to the ancient Indus civilization, dating back more than 5000 years. The people in this area of Sindh live at the banks of the Indus River and have a deep association with ajrak textiles. Local people use Ajrak in a myriad of different ways during their life cycles, using it to mark transitions from birth to maturity and until death. This cloth is worn as a turban by men, used as a shawl by women and spread as a bed-sheet in homes. It is used and reused until threadbare.
Ajrak is skillfully hand block printed and selectively dyed with the use of mordants and resists in rich crimson and deep indigo. Traditional Ajrak making is a complex process involving 21 distinct stages, and entails the use of indigo and madder as natural dyes. This is a vanishing craft in Sindh, Pakistan.
Nature plays an important role in the making of ajrak. The craftspeople work in total harmony with their environment: the sun, river, animals, trees and mud are all part of the process. The direct block printing and resist-dyeing methods use materials that are indigenous to the region, such as rice paste, alum, molasses, fuller`s earth, fennel and natural gum. The cloth is dipped in an earthenware vat for its immersion in the magical indigo dye. Printing blocks are hand-carved with great precision using wood from Acacia Arabica trees.
The ajrak workshop is operated by an extended family, with around 10 family members participating. Men and women take on different roles, with men doing the resist printing, dyeing and block carving, while the women carry out the fabric preparation, washing and finishing. The workshop is located in Sindh, Pakistan, close to the River Indus. This community has been making/printing ajrak textiles for centuries.

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