Akin to high art on fabric, Ajrak is sheer beauty of form . The Ajrakh dyer uses the deepest blue of indigo and the molten red of madder eulogising the divinity of the twin opposing forces of creation.
Ajrak the word is derived from “Azrak”, meaning blue in Arabic, and blue happens to be the one of the principal colours in Ajrak printing. More than a fabric, Ajrak is a Sindhi tradition. The highly valued Ajrak has been made in Kutch for the Maldharis or cattle herder communities since the time Khatris migrated from Sindh in the 16th century.
The Khatri community, whose name means “one who fills or changes colours,” printed cloth with the locally available natural dyes and water from the Dhamadka, the river that gave their village its name. Around 500 years ago the then Maharaval of Kutch invited a group of Khatri artisans to settle at Dhamadka near Bhuj in order to exclusively provide printed fabric to the nobility. These artisans branched out into a range of block printed textiles to serve the needs of various local communities, but the pride of their trade still remain Ajrakh.
Akib Khatri ‘s grandfather was a block printer in Rapar, where his customers were Kanbi Patels of the region. After the earth quake of 2001 in Gujarat, they re-settled in Ajrakhpur. Seeped in the tradition and generational passing of knowledge and craft, Akib understands the subtle nuance of colour and design and has beautifully mixed traditional and contemporary.
Akib wants to break the limitations of natural colours and use new natural colours in ajrakh which have not been possible till now. In his own words “ My dream is to begin my own autonomous hand block print business. If we implement new aspects of block printing as per the demand of time and search for new markets, the future of block printing will be brighter.”
pIn 2011, Akib graduated from Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya, with awards for Most Innovative Artisan and Best Student. He started working when he was eighteen and his belief is that in order to be a good artisan one should have patience and love for his/her craft, and he/she should work hard. Since graduating, he has started a niche practice, creating small scale, technically skilled production.
Direct Create is proud to have Akib Khatri on board.