Ikat came to India centuries ago because of its trade ties in ancient times with China and Indonesia. Old paintings at Ajanta and Ellora caves show human figures wearing garments of ikat pattern which proves that as early as 7th century CE, the weavers in India were using the ikat style of dyeing and weaving the fabric.
Ikat primarily developed in three major regions – Andhra Pradesh/Telangana, Gujarat, and Odisha. These three regions have their own style of ikat weaving. In India, Ikat kurtas are much loved, and so are Ikat saris, with more than 10 variations of Ikat techniques and scores of patterns available.
Ikat is a technique used to create a distinct style of textile patterns. In ancient times it was seen as a symbol of wealth. The core fabrics used for producing ikat are silk & cotton. Ikat is done by a technique called resist dyeing where sections of the yarns are bonded prior to weaving the fabric.
The resist is formed by binding individual yarns or bundles of yarns with a tight wrapping applied in the desired pattern. The yarns are then dyed. The bindings are then altered to create different patterns and the yarns are dyed again.
The process is repeated multiple times to produce elaborate, multicolored patterns. After dyeing, all the bindings are removed and the yarns are woven into cloth. In Ikat, the surface design is created in the yarns rather than on the finished cloth.
The designs are created with vertical symmetry and hence both the faces of the fabric are patterned. Colors are derived from plants and trees.
The hallmark of Ikat is its apparent ‘blurriness’ to the design. The blurriness is an effect of the extreme difficulty in lining up the dyed yarns so that the pattern comes out perfectly in the finished cloth.
The blurriness of the design depends on the thickness of the yarn and the skill of the weaver. Ikats with little blurriness, multiple colors, and complicated patterns are arduous to create.
Types of Ikat weave –
In warp ikat, the warp threads are ikat dyed, and weft yarns are woven. The patterns are quite visible on the warp lay.
In weft Ikat, only the weft threads are ikat dyed. The weft ikat method is more complex than the warp ikat, as a pattern starts appearing with the weaving process and the weaver has to readjust the yarns from time to time.
In double Ikat, both the warp and weft threads are resist-dyed before weaving. This technique requires advanced skills of the weaver, time and hence is the most expensive among all. Sarees like Pochampally and Puttapaka feature double ikat motifs.
In compound Ikat both the warp and weft methods are combined to form an independent, complementary patterns on the fabric.
Ikat weaves of India
You might ask why Indian ikat is so much in demand globally. It’s because of the experience and the developing techniques of the master weavers here. The special thing about ikat weaving in India is that each region has evolved its own style of dyeing and weaving the yarns.
Ikat from Andhra/ Telangana:
Ikat from Odisha:
Ikat from Gujarat:
Apart from apparel, Ikat is also used in creating home décor i.e. bed sheets, cushion covers, etc. In addition to that, we can see Ikat in accessories like jewelry, purses, etc. There is an increasing global demand for Indian Ikat because of the variety and delicate nature of the craft.
You can check our Ikat shirts collection here.
Due to its intricate patterns and tedious weaving process Ikat is also called ‘Poetry of the Loom’.
Do you own any Ikat? If yes, tell us your Ikat story.
1) Ikat belongs to which state?
Answer - Ikat has been localized by many states according to their culture. E.g - Ikat from Andhra Pradesh/Telangana is different than Ikat from Odisha.
2) Ikat is derived from which language?
Answer - Ikat word is derived from Indonesian word - mengikat which means method of weaving that uses dyed threads to produce coloured patterns.
3) Ikat is from which country ?
Answer - Ikat though is said to have been originated in Indonesia, it is not limited to Indonesia. Various countries adopted and synthesized their style of Ikat. So different types of Ikat from various countries symbolize different designs.