Ajrak or block printed shawls originating in Sindh could well be the predecessor to modern day dupatta. A bust of a priest-king excavated at Mohenjo-daro shows him draped in a piece of cloth that resembles an ajrak with trefoil pattern etched on it.
For hundreds of years, men have used it as a turban, a cummerbund or wind it around their shoulders or simply drape it over one shoulder. Women use it as a dupatta or a shawl and sometimes as a makeshift swing for children.
Apart from being a symbol of a woman's modesty, the size and fabric of a dupatta can be telling of a woman's place in the society. It can be a statement of style, a symbol of religiosity, a sign of a woman's place in society or it can be a symbol of political action. If forcibly removed, it implies an assault on the woman or her family. If exchanged among women, it means a sisterly bond has been established among the two women. When presented to a woman, it denotes bestowing honour to her.