An in depth travelogue of Pakistan’s most popular and culturally significant textile art.
Bhit Shah is still notorious for keeping traditional ajrak alive, preserving techniques that date back to the 1700’s. Here’s a peak at how our latest ajrak apparel has travelled over 1000 km to stop at Gen HQ in Lahore, before reaching its final destination: your closet.
In the heart of Sindh lies a small town, Bhit Shah, which is famous for using organic dyes to make Ajrak. Ajrak is a long-standing symbol of Sindhi culture, and is revered worldwide for its unique woodblock print of red, white, and black colors.
Color-mixing in Bhit Shah
If you don’t know it already but making of Ajrak is a lengthy tedious process, and overtime to produce it faster and for a higher profit margin the craftsmen as well as some factories have started using chemical dyes. However, Bhit Shah is still one of those towns keeping the tradition alive of using natural mineral and vegetable dyes.
Local vegetable and grain-based dyes. Shop the suit dyed from these ingredients here
The artisans are masters of the craft, passing along their knowledge and skill from generation to generation, tracing back to as early as the 1700’s. From the way fabric is rinsed to the stamping and drying, each process is still preserved as if it is straight out from a time capsule.
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Although water is a key component in making of Ajrak we source, the ingredients and treatments (dyes, pastes, dung etc) are low in toxicity, therefore, they don’t harm the environment unlike the chemically treated and dyed Ajrak does. Chemically treated and dyed Ajrak not only pollutes the water but the presence of carcinogens and mutagens in the ingredients can cause the people of the area to be more prone to cancers, retardation, physical defects, still births and so on.
Airdrying ajrak fabric before final wash and travel to GENERATION HQ
That being said, water is a limited natural resource, with Pakistan being a ‘water-stressed’ nation. With untreated and unregulated industrial and chemical waste being dumped into open water streams, it is going to severely affect the wildlife, the vegetation, and people consuming it.
Shop our latest ajrak pieces here
At GENERATION, we are trying to not only reduce our acids and dyes to natural substitutes, but are also aiming to treat and recycle our water for usage. That is why we also encourage our buyers to not use bleach, hand wash, and air dry their outfits to conserve water and electricity. We also encourage our facility workers to be mindful of water consumption, especially the leaks, the waste disposal, washing, and dyeing. We have to start small but from somewhere to play our part in an unregulated industry.
Disclaimer: We believe sustainable and environment friendly practices will be a prerequisite for doing business in the future and if there is a time for change, it is now! We are not a fully sustainable brand, yet. However, we are slowly but surely moving in that direction.