Ikkat : Gobally tied, bound and weaved lore of Textile Heritage.

Amongst an array of historic textile products that are renowned for their popular use currently in tandem with modern silhouettes and sensibilities is Ikat. It is with the skilled competency  of  tie-dye experts and weavers — that various culturally nuanced versions of Ikat are birthed to charm textile aficionados globally.

The global footprints of Ikat are in China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan , the Latin American countries, the Middle East, West Africa and Europe ; wherein each of the regional variations boast of a unique cultural evolved textile heritage pertaining to Ikat. 

What may amaze a textile enthusiast is that even though executed by a  similar technique, the Patola of Gujarat ,Telia Rumal of Telangana or the other regional, international manifestations of this heritage craft are so distinctive in their final appearance. 

Ikat technique encompasses the resist dyeing process which is used to dye the yarns before weaving the fabric with a quintessential quality of Ikat fabric being it’s apparent blurriness portraying the shortcoming a weaver faces while making the finished cloth. Final Ikat fabric with minimum blurriness, in a myriad of colors and with intricacy of patterns is arduous to make and is hence, more expensive.What distinguishes Ikat from the tie and dye technique, where the fabric is already woven is that in Ikat the yarns are first bound before dyeing.

Kinds of Ikat:

Warp Ikat:

Warp yarns are the longitudinal yarns of a fabric which are dyed with this Ikat technique; whereas, weft yarns’ areas are  dyed in a solid color. Before the fabric is weaved, it is through the warp yarns that the entire Ikat pattern becomes visible. The warp Ikat gives the final look of the envisioned Ikat pattern with plain weft yarn.

Weft Ikat:

Running back and forth in a fabric, Weft refers to the vertical set of yarns wherein  the weaving or the weft yarns carry the dyed patterns. The pattern only begins to  appear as the weaving proceeds. However, it is slower than warp Ikat since the weft yarns require a careful adjustment based on the design, before weaving. 

Double Ikat:

 In Double Ikat, both the warp and weft yarns are resist dyed before weaving.  Being one of the most difficult techniques amongst the three, it is hence, also one of the most expensive. It is actualised by an extraordinary executed overlapping of the weft and warp for producing a design. 

Ikat uses the process of resist dyeing. Predominantly, silk and cotton are used in an exhaustive rigorous  process that involves many warp and weft threads being bundled and bound together which resist the dye colors. 

Thereafter the bundles of yarns are tied to a wooden frame and given a dye bath often involving repeated dye treatments.  After this, the intricate process of weaving begins to transform these yarns into a piece of fabric. Colors derived from plants, flowers and tree barks are used as dyes for making Ikat. Ikat patterns emerge as a combination of warp and weft thread dyed color. Designed with vertical symmetry or a mirror image running along the centerline,Ikat design comes out  to be exactly the same on both sides of the fabric but they can be weaved in horizontal, vertical and diagonal fashion as well.

Traditionally, the motifs had a prominent influence on village lifestyle. As years passed, floral and geometric patterns gained more popularity and the weavers are of the view that there is a larger demand  for patterns that are best befitting to the youthful vibrancy of India’s evolving demography. With handbags,wallets featuring patches of ikat fabric, home decor accessories, office paraphernalia and interiors embracing glory of the Ikat through different products, this heritage craft has surely seen a powerful resurgence in dominating the vision of those with a penchant in textile design.

We at Gulabchand, in our 9 decades old  passionate rigour for Indian textile tradition have been proud manufacturers of Ikat amongst other Indian weaves through our visionary workmanship and are elated to bring to your doorstep this magnificent artform through our garments and more.

(Authored by – Vandana Bhatia )

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