A variety of plant-based products go into the dyeing of Malkha yarn: Indigofera Tinctoria for indigo, Acacia Catechu for brown, Terminalia Chebula (harda) and Punica Granatum (pomegranate rind) for yellow, and Onosma Echioides (kasimi) for grey. Red, made of non-toxic alizarin, a by-product of coal tar, is the only Malkha dye not of vegetable origin. Read more here.
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.