The traditional printing of AJRAKH cloth is an ancient tradition over 2000 years old. These scarves/shawls are made in BHIT SHAH in Pakistan located near the cradle of civilisation, along the Indus River (2500-1750 BC), now in Pakistan. I visited this family business in their home compound and their skills have been passed from father to son for generations. AJRAKH is normally printed on cotton and the shawl is worn by men as a mark of their identity. These silk scarves are unique and as far as I know are not sold outside Pakistan except for Adventuress in Australia.
4 colour combinations: 220cm x 55cm + 12cm tassels each short end
1. Deepest brown/black, deep madder red and beige
2. Grey/blue, madder red, black and beige
3. Mid madder red and beige
4. Dark moss green, gold/yellow green (made using indigo blue and yellow) and black
The process of AJRAKH is complicated and very time consuming, taking years to master - with the procedure involving up to 14 steps of scouring, mordanting printing with handmade wooden blocks (up to 4 per design) with numerous stages of lime resist and dying with 100% natural dyes (which are made by the dye master), washed and redid until the final result is reached. Every step is done by hand. Every step uses natural products - camel dung, lime castor oil, nuts, fruit, barks and leaves. When finished, the scarf was sent to specialist tassel makers who added the final silk tassels. What a masterpiece.
I stayed overnight at the workshop/home and watched the incredible processes (see photos) - in simple sheds with mud floors as the printing was done and where massive pots of dyes boiled in the compound yard. The buffalo was milked for our breakfast and I was shown the rooms each son lived in with his wife and where a newly born and very precious son was sleeping, snuggly wrapped in his hand-stitched ralli quilt.
AJRAKH is a unique masterpiece - an ancient art form remarkably continued today exactly as it was practiced right from the beginning.