To those in the business of natural dyes, indigofera tinctoria [the source of the highly prized natural indigo dye] is the true crown jewel of the Indian subcontinent. Nomadic people all over the world and American cowboys - all those who can’t bathe often - favoured indigo dye because it is a natural antiseptic! At Malkha, we think that indigo dyed in the traditional way has eye-catching and mysterious carmine undertones. Our light indigo is dipped 3 times in the fermented vats, our dark indigo is dipped 8 times.
Magic happens when yarn has been mordanted with myrobalan seed pods and then dyed in a mixture of rusty iron soaked in fermented jaggery. This is what we call kasimi - no chemical can match the depth of the black it produces.
The only synthetic dye used by Malkha, Alizarin Red is a non-toxic by-product of coal tar. It creates a truly lovely and smooth scarlet when dyed on well-prepared, properly mordanted yarn.
The specialised printing technique of the Kutch region of Gujarat; the origins and meanings of Ajrakh are as diverse as they are romantic. Some say it means “keep it today”, others that it is the Arabic word for indigo. Either way, the motifs are all geometric, harkening to their Islamic origin and the colors historically tend to be predominantly red and indigo.
The traditional wooden block printing technique of the Machilipatnam region, some surmise that this was imported from Persia in the sixteenth century. Featuring predominantly botanical motifs, the ones we favor at Malkha feature butterflies, the palapitta and kokila birds, pineapples, peepal leaves and flowers. Our printers pre-treat the fabric to be printed with an exacting method of vegetable treatments.
What it feels like
When you first touch our fabric, it will feel rough but rub it against your skin, or better yet, wear it, and it will surprise you with its graceful fall and softness. The colors that the Natural Dyes impart to the Malkha fabric are deep and vibrant - imbued with the richness of the earth. They vary from season to season, as fruits and vegetables do, and so each piece is subtly unique, changing its tone with the position of the sun and the quality of the water in the nearby river.
How it ages
Malkha fabric ages much like we do, the wear and tear matches the way you use and treat it. If you want it to soften and fade and become well worn and tell your story, like wrinkles do, treat it as you will and watch the colors fade beautifully with time. If you want it to always be vibrant, like the day it was made, we suggest you skip dry cleaning, laundry detergent and if you are able, even a washing machine. Use a non-detergent soap if you must or just give it a quick hearty rinse in cold water.