Saturday, 28 February 2009


We spent a glorious morning with Dr. Ishmail, who took us through the process of Ajrahk - hand block printing and resist dyeing.   Natural dyes are used - indigo, madder and printed mordants.   To complicated to go into great depth here, but there are books on the subject, and I am sure you can google "Ajrahk" for more details.

Dr. Ishmail Mohammed Khatri - master dyer

Dyeing area for vegetable dyes

Background - preparation of iron water
Foreground - linen, dye painted black, dyeing in sun

A peek at the indigo vat- showing the indigo 'rose'.

Printing blocks

Dhori gach resist - tree gum, clay,
water and miller flower paste

The process of printing and dyeing the cloth takes
fourteen stages, from scouring the original 'grey' cloth
with three soakings in neerani solution, consisting of
a mixture of castor oil, soda ash and camel dung;
dyeing, printing, resists and then the final wash.

The finished cloth

I scribbled away making notes, trying to remember each process, but I think I might 
have to invest in a book!   Dr. Ishamil was a very generous host, answering many 
questions.  I have a scaled down recipe for iron water - roll on a hot summer, in the 
meantime I shall be scouring Dorset for bits of iron to add to the pot.

After wandering round the block printing area, looking at bubbling vats, yards of 
printing blocks,  it was time for chai.  I will leave it to your imagination the joys 
of the cupboard, pulling out wonderful pieces of ajrahk fabric.  Of course, a few 
pieces made their way to Oz and England.

1 comment:

Aditi said...

The fabrics are beautiful!