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What is Ajrkh Fabric?
The Ajrakh makers claim that their craft dates back to early medieval times. Scraps of printed fragments believed to originate from Western India were unearthed at Fostat near Cairo. The Ajrakh craft was practiced by the Khatri community, living on the banks of river Sindh (Indus in present-day Pakistan). These families migrated to Kutch from Sindh in the 16th century, when the King of Kutch recognized the craft and invited them to settle in the barren uninhabited land, along with dyers, printers, potters, and embroiderers. The dyers were Khatri Brahmins. Two generations later they converted to Islam and settled in Dhamadka for its close proximity to a river where they washed their fabric.
But after 400 years of use, in 1989, the river dried, and water levels from wells and tanks continued to fall. After a massive earthquake in Kutch in 2001, the block printers were forced to relocate. They settled in Ajrakpur, a village built in coordination with relief NGOs. There are over one hundred families living in Ajrakpur, and 30 official block printing workshops; almost all of the families in Ajrakpur generate their primary income.
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