A king once grew so fond of his bedspread that he insisted his maids to let it stay on his bed for one more day, he muttered “aj ke din rakh”, the phrase which went on to be used to name that uniquely printed fabric as Ajrakh.
It is also believed that the fabric derived its name from the sanskrit word ‘A-jharat’ or ‘that which does not fade’. ‘Azrak’, the Arabic word for blue could have also played a role in its etymology because of extensive use of indigo in the process.
The fabrics unearthed at sites like Fustat in Egypt are believed to be Ajrakh sourced from India. The craft was mastered by the civilizations, which flourished around the Indus River in Sindh area. The river provided both a site for washing the fabric and the water needed to grow Indigo. An idol of a King Priest, excavated at a site in Mohenjo-Daro shows him draped in this fabric, which depicts the earliest use of Ajrakh. It had a trefoil pattern printed on the garment believed to be the ‘Kakkar’ or cloud pattern in Ajrakh printing. Similar geometry of the trefoil is evident in the present Ajrakh patterns.
Legend has it that Ajrakh printers are descendants of King Rama. ‘Kshatriya’ (Hindu term for the warriors) became ‘Khatri’ and they came to Kutch from Sindh around 400 years ago. As per the records, Kutch ruler Rao Bharmalji invited craftsmen to meet the growing needs of the people and the royal court.