a handcrafted all-natural wonder

What is ajrakh?

‘Ajrakh’ is an ancient method of intricately hand printing textiles using colorful, hand crafted all natural dyes and hand carved wooden blocks.

The word ‘ajrakh’ itself is said to have many meanings. Some believe it to be derived from the Arabic work ajrakh, meaning blue, a chief color used in the printing. Others believe it refers to the Hindi words ‘aj – rakh’ meaning ‘keep today’, in reference to the elaborate and slow process of dyeing the fabric in stages over 16 days and ‘keeping away’ the fabric at the end of each day for the dyes to settle in.

Is ajrakh eco friendly?

The ajrakh printing technique uses natural, eco friendly non toxic materials for creating dyes. These materials are commonly derived from plants and naturally occurring minerals. For example, blue is derived from the indigo plant, red from madder plant roots, yellow from turmeric and pomegranate, and black from iron shavings, tamarind and jaggery. The printing is done by hand, using hand carved wooden blocks.

What is special about ajrakh?

Apart from being a craft that is said to have been practiced for about 3000 years, the ajrakh process also has another interesting dimension. Having been perfected over centuries, the choice of dyes and pigments lends a unique all – weather ability to the fabric. In summers, the dyes expand the pores of the fabric, allowing more air to pass through and keeping the wearer cool. In winters, the wearer is kept warm because the dyes cause the pores to close.

Sway sources its ajrakh from small artists to ensure employment at fair wages and to encourage sustainable production. Due to the non commercial scale production, the final printed fabric shows slight irregularities, only enhancing its beauty.