Today’s post is a visual treat. Contemporary Textile Studio member Munira Amin, provided this photo journal of her trip to Pakistan, including stunning images of a traditional wood block printing studio. Enjoy!
My visit to Bith Shah to the shrine of the great sindhi Sufi peot Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai
in Sindh, Pakistan took me to one of the only surviving workshops in Sindh where the
extraordinary Ajrakh is produced.
Eiluned Edwards, textile expert at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, describes
Ajrakh as “one of the most complex and beautiful cloths in the world”.
The Latif Ajrak Centre in Pakistan, still produces this extraordinary cloth using
Skillfully hand block printed with hand carved wooden blocks and dyed in rich crimson
and deep indigo.
Hand printed on both sides of the cloth, in multiple stages with resists, mordants and dye; dipped in indigo; washed; beaten; and repeatedly sun dried.
The cloth rests in sunlight between each stage for the colors to mature .This complex
process in the making of Ajrak involves 21 distinct stages.
Nature plays an important role in the making of Ajrak. The craftsmen work in total
harmony with their environment, where the sun, river, animals, trees and mud are all
part of its making. The direct printing and resist-dyeing methods use materials that are
indigenous to the region.
The block printed patterns are always in perfect symmetry.
The people of Sindh at the bank of the Indus have a deep association with the Ajrak. It
celebrates all significant events of their life. The Ajrak is worn as a turban by men, a
shawl by woman, spread on a bed in homes, even used as a backing to a Rillie quilt. It is
used and reused till threadbare.