The Only Living Colour

What makes Indigo different from other natural colours? All natural colours are extracted from natural sources. Reds and oranges from madder roots or flame of the forest, yellow from turmeric, marigold and pomegranate rind, browns and beiges from walnut, catechu, tea leaves and blue from the indigo plant.

 

All these and more were revealed to us by Dr. Ismael Khatri, the patron of Ajrakpur, a village in Kutch where the ancient craft of Ajrak flourishes even today.‘Ajrakh has a connection with the Universe. The way the Earth looks from above is largely blue because of the oceans. If you look at the sea from above, the deeper parts will appear as dark blue. The sky above is also blue. The theme of Ajrak is the Universe. Inspired by the night sky, Ajrak uses a lot of stars. Black – being the colour of the night sky – and Red – signifying dusk and twilight – are also used in the craft. The thing in Ajrak is that, the greater the shine of its stars, the faster it will get sold. If we have 25 pieces, the customer will look for the one where the stars shine the most, and take away that piece first.’ The name ‘Ajrak’ also seems to have its roots in the Arabic word ‘Azrak’ meaning blue.

The traditional color palette of crimson red, indigo blue, and white is said to represent the Universe: red for the earth, white for clouds, and blue for the sky and the universe.

It is very likely that Sufism might have had a strong influence on the craft and its underlying philosophy, reflected in the passion they have for this craft. The idea of ‘Brahmand’(the Sanskrit term for ‘universe’ and how the Ajrakh craftsmen refer to ‘universe’) also resonates with the Sufi philosophy. As the saying by Rumi goes, ‘The soul of the soul of Universe is love’.

 

Other Origin Stories

Knots of Identity

Location - Rajkot

A Tale of Threads

Location - Varanasi

The Maker and his Master

Location - Chorida
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