Ajrakh Hand Block Printing The Art of Sindh

Ajrakh Hand Block Printing The Art of Sindh
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Today we will transport you into the world of Ajrakh hand block printing; a tradition that has existed for hundreds years. Do you know how precious Ajrakh art is?

What is Ajrakh Hand Block Printing

It should be noted by that Ajrakh hand block printing is a unique block printed textile. Ajrak follows a detailed block printing technique of decorating fabrics. Further generally, Ajrakh is printed on both sides by resist printing method. It displays special traditional designs and patterns. The ajrakh makers claim that their craft dates back to early medieval times. Scraps of printed fragments which were believed to originate from Western India, were unearthed at Fostat near Cairo.

The ajrak craft was practised by the khatri community, living in the banks of river Sindh (Indus in present day Pakistan). These families migrated to Kutch from Sindh in the 16th century, when the King of Kutch recognised the craft and invited them to settle in the barren uninhabited land, along with dyers, printers, potters and embroiderers. Two generations later they converted to Islam and settled in Dhamadka for its close proximity to a river in which they washed their fabric.


Firstly Jabbar and Adam Khatri are the 9th and 10th generation of Ajrakh hand block printer. Firstly you know it was Jabbar’s father, Mahammad Sidik, who saw that traditional knowledge would be lost if he did not teach his children. Especially each of those children Razak, Ismail, and Jabbar has gone on to become a master craftsman and enjoy international recognition for their work.

Ajrakh Hand Block Printing

Secondly Jabbar has participated in exhibitions in Europe, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, not to mention numerous exhibitions and fashion shows within India. Now his son Adam is also seeing that all over the world there is great respect for Ajrakh, and for traditional dyeing and printing techniques. 

Story of Jabbar

Like many of you I have fallen captive to the beauty and the magic of ajrakh cloth. From the radiant colours to the intricate designs, one can only stop and think WOW this cloth must have a story; and it does… furthermore to understand more to Ajrakh print you should know story. Moreover you will think which story and why we should know it. Especially this story is Journey of Jabbar which you must know. Above all now you will get to know more about Jabbar let’s Begin.

In 2015 I was given the opportunity to assist Charllotte on her textile tour in India. Tonight I would like to share an excerpt from my journal of my first experience in Damadka and when I truly learnt what ajrak feels like.

“Today we arrived in Damadka.

As we all stepped off the bus I was met with an incredible heat unlike anything I had felt before … and I thought…”only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun…” and of course … enthusiastic textile lovers. 

A smiling bearded man greeted us, later I learnt he was Jabbar Khatri. As he ushered us in, I became more and more lost in the sights and sounds of this place. The rhythm of the men washing, fabric-twisting, and slapping large pieces of cotton on the sides of giant stone basins.

**Sllllaaap…woosh slllaaaaap woosh” rinsing and slapping…twiiiisting and slapping

The smell of a sweet and smokey fire rising up from under the dye pots.

And In the distance I could see loooong strips of cloth drying on the desert ground, that ground stained with blues and reds…the echos of so many lengths of cloth that had been placed here before.


We continued to where the block printers were pounding and tapping. It was something you like: thump tap tap tap thump …  Thump tap tap tap thump…that sound became the pattern upon the cloth on the table…that same cloth I saw drying in the sun just behind us…I realized that this sound was ubiquitous throughout the entire space.

Thump thump tap tap thump thump tap tap… pounding thumping and tapping patterns. Like a sacred morse code telling me a story … ajrakh cloth life story.

Yes! cloth seems alive here.

All of this is alive.

Ajrakh Hand Block Printing

Now back in Vancouver I realize this cloth is no longer just a bed sheet or a table cloth…but an experience…alive and full of history that has transcended so many generations.

You see, all of the sights and sounds are held within it’s patterns  Every time I hold a piece of ajrakh in my hands I am transported back to Damadka. Tonight this experience will be passed on to you…through Jabbar and Adam who have travelled far to be here and share with you the story of their family, the story of their ajrakh… 

Apart from these story you also got idea about Meaning of Ajrakh. You can buy all handprinted Ajrakh on Afday. Last but not least this Feeling for Ajrakh was great you too will feel if you use these kinds of Products.

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