A colour that can breathe

“The Ajrakh is made from natural materials and it is non-allergic. The cloth is strong and reliable, herbs are used and it [the cloth] acts as an insulator, [keeping] warm in [winter] and cool in [summer],” says Usto Allah Rehu, the owner of one of the biggest Ajrakh-making centres in Bhit Shah, Sindh.

Similar conversation got evoked when the Asian Paints team met up with Dr. Ismael Khatri in Ajrakhpur. He referred to this wax property of the Indigo dye which keeps the body warm during winters and cold during summers.

The wax property in the colour is such that during winter the threads solidify and air doesn’t pass through because of which it gives warmth, while in summer, the wax loosens up and lets the air to pass through it freely, making it cool.

Now this could have been of particular significance to people close to the white desert, which is prone to extreme climates in the course of a day- cold nights and hot days. If the phenomena were seasonal, one could wear clothing that goes with that particular season. But what would you do when there was a dramatic shift in temperature in a matter of say few hours.

Ajrakh was that single piece which could be used to keep oneself warm as well as cool. No wonder then that it managed to capture the imagination of rich muslim Maldharis (nomadic tribal herdsmen) as well as local communities around the Ajrakh craftsmen.

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