What is Ikat?
Ikat is a dyeing technique used to create exquisite fabrics. Ikat fabrics are popular for their beauty and distinct style, and the age-old art of Ikat weaving is well-known for how difficult it is. The difficulty of practicing Ikat lies in the fact that unlike in other printing techniques, where the final cloth is dyed, in Ikat, the yarns are first resist-dyed and then woven.
The origins of Ikat
Ikat is one of those rare techniques that evolved independently and simultaneously in different parts of the world. Ikat weaving has been practiced in India, Indonesia, Japan and other South-East Asian countries for millennia. This form of textile production is also popular in Central and South American countries and even Africa. However, each region has its own distinct style of Ikat.
Today, India and Indonesia are the two most famous producers of Ikat fabrics in the world. The word Ikat, in fact, comes from the Indonesian language - the noun for cord, thread, and knot, the verb for the phrases “to tie” and “to bind.”
In India, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Gujarat are famed for the Ikat textiles they produce. India is also one of the very few places in the world where complex double Ikat fabrics are still produced.
Techniques of Ikat
The art of Ikat dyeing is a complex one. There are many steps that lead to the finished product, which is why Ikat fabrics are so in demand and so expensive at times.
- The desired pattern is first drawn – by hand - on the warp and weft yarns.
- The weaver then ties these yarns to match the pattern. Then the threads are dyed in the specific colours, so that the colours seep into the yarn at the correct position.
- The yarns are then untied and strung on the loom.
- The fabric is then woven together, and the colourful pattern emerges on it.
Ikat dyeing can be of three types – warp Ikat, weft Ikat and the most complex, double Ikat.
The patterns of Ikat
While each region where Ikat is practiced has its own distinct style. However, a typical characteristic of most Ikat textiles is the “blurriness” of the motifs. This haziness comes from the fact that the weaver has to line up the dyed yarns perfectly before weaving them to achieve a pattern.
In India, the motifs most commonly found in Ikat dyeing are geometric patterns and designs borrowed from nature. The triangular chevron or temple phera design is a very common and beautiful one, as are the simple Ikat arrow designs.
Tjori’s Ikat Drapes
At Tjori, we have come up with a collection of lovely cotton sarees inspired by the age-old art of Ikat weaving. Bright, beautiful and traditionally Indian, these sarees are produced by the skilled artisans of Andhra Pradesh. Our Ikat Drapes collection brings the best of India’s Ikat to your doorstep – so shop from this beautiful collection today.