Ajrak Craft

Ajrak Craft (Source: wikimedia)

Ajrak is a special art of printing shawls. The main feature of Ajrak is the fact that it follows a very detailed block printing mechanism of decorating shawls. The colors which are mostly used to make and provide contrast to the decoration of the shawls include more variations other than the basic red, green, blue, black and yellow. It has been around from the Indus Valley Civilization era.

Origin and History

Ajrak is a modern mode and discovery in block printing and has attained a pedestal of being an esteemed representation of the culture and heritage of the Sindh civilization. It hence promotes the cultivation and yielding of cotton trees for making clothes and in particular Shawls. History of the Mohenjo-Daro ruins has revealed the prevalence of the Ajrak as a draped cloth upon an excavation.

The early civilizations along the Indus Valley which is renowned as the Sindh civilization were the creators and makers of the Ajrak block printing technology. Being a component of the Sindh history and development, the application of Ajrak has been found evident throughout the reign, and through the customs of gifting the visitors, welcoming guests, and honoring esteemed people.


Since, it includes the application of patterning and alternating with designs and colors, the staining and coloring mechanism requires a very accurate and deft precision of artistic skills. A collection of cotton balls is followed by treating each collection of the blocks uniquely with specific designing patterns. Then a particular design block is selected, followed by designing a pattern and coloring one impression at an instant. Then the entire shawl gets decorated completely with the designs. Finally, the shawl is laid out in the sun where the colors dry to perfection.

Ajrak Shawl

Ajrak Shawl (Source: wikimedia)

Influences Over the Years

It has developed as the cultural component of Sindh culture and the design is treated as a very respectful and valued heritage. From regional and private usage, the Ajrak has gained its popularity and recognition as priceless gifts for festive occasions and cultural programmes. Ministers and many famous personalities exhibit their appreciation and attachment to Ajrak.


The block printing technique has been modified and adorned with more extensive usage of dyes, colours, and liquid components necessary for strengthening the bondage of colour with the cloth.  It has found usage in various textures of materials used in making the shawls. The distribution of its patterns has also been mechanized to assist in the affordability of the entire printing.

It is the innovation in a modern printing of shawls, therefore in the times of requirement of the shawls, as in winter onset, the sale of the Ajrak technique gets to enjoy huge benefits and continuous profits from markets that cater to shawls. It is a sense of great respect for the Ajrak makers during the felicitation and welcoming of respected guests in social occasions.

Ajrak in the Making

Ajrak in the Making (Source: Gaatha)

Global Influence

Throughout the years, across the Sindh civilization and pertaining to the publicity and recognition that it has been promoted to, it has enhanced in its global appeal through national and international markets. The business suffers a considerably low amount of risks and production threats. This ensures their steady rise and dominance in terms of profit.


It comes in various designs and illustrations. These heavily designed and contrasted shawls greatly enhance the appearance of any person who chooses to don it. The Ajrak shawl is in itself a wonderful accessory and can bring about the beauty of any outfit, whether it is a kurti or a saree.

Chronicles of the Future Foretold

The professional future of the block printing industries promises immense progress, development, strategization and leading of the block printing technology. Moreover, the scope of usage of more innovative machine technology to shift the manual task of individual and instant oriented printing to mechanical imprinting is also a very probable development in the world of Ajrak block printing.

Interesting Facts and Comparisons

  • An excavation made in the Mohenjo-Daro civilization had yielded a human-remains draped around the shoulder region in an embroidered fabric that is supposedly an Ajrak.
  • In ancient China, certain printing discoveries have been made which prove a hypothesis about the origination of the Ajrak in Chinese territory.
  • It also depicts a pattern which emphasizes the application and perfection of geometric symmetry.


Categories:   Motifs & Embroideries