What is it about ikat that pulls on our heart strings so much?
To me it is the fact that this technique is so old and yet so now! The carefully drafted patterns of Ikat Weaving Technique with their slight abstraction remind me of blown up pixilated images. It is this and the fact that Ikat is an intelligent technique that can be super intricate like the double Ikat Patolas of Patan or absolutely simple and clean like the single Ikats of Andhra Pradesh.
So what is Ikat?
Ikat, as it is popularly known by its Indonesian name, is an age old technique of tie-resist-dyed yarn, woven to make patterned cloth. It can be single, where only the warp yarn is patterned, or double where both warp and weft yards are pattern dyed.
In India this technique is practiced in different states, with each state having its own unique characteristic. Ikat Fabric is made in Andhra Predesh, Orissa & Gujarat.
It is known as Paagadu Bandhu or Chitki in Andhra Pradesh/Telangana. Ikat was initially woven for export to Arab Markets, Middle East, Africa and Burma, who had a preference for Telia Rumal. Increased demand led to the craft spreading to more villages in Andhra Pradesh. Over a period of time each village developed a specialisation: Pochampally in Silk Saris, Puttapaka in fine cotton, silk sari and yardage etc. Weaving here is a full time activity where often, the entire family is involved in the production process.
Ikat in Aandhra Pradesh / Telangana Region has evolved and lots of young designers and curators are now working and experimenting with cotton ikats from the region and making contemporary apparel and home accessories. These images below are all examples of modern cotton ikats from this region, don’t forget to check out the links mentioned below!
Images via: Translate: http://www.ikatindia.com
Image via: https://www.facebook.com/theikatstory
Image via: www.anekdesigns.com
Telia Rumal, as you may guess, is derived from the words Tel, meaning Oil and Rumal which means handkerchief. The rumal measuring 44 x 44 inches was used by fishermen in Maharashtra and Andhra as loin cloths or Lungis. It is a red square with a border and patterns in single and double ikat are enclosed inside.Oil is used to soften the yarn in preparation of dyeing and also for enriching the red tones. This technique gave its name to the produced cloth for its oily sheen and smell. Telia Rumals are woven in pairs, it originated in Chirala and because of its popularity helped spread the technique to neighbouring villages where Ikat thrives today.
Festival of India Exhibitions and Design interventions over the years have restored the artistry of Telia Rumal.
Image via: www.jaypore.com
Known as Bandha in Orissa, the technique here is widely recognised for its skilful patterns, distinctive curvilinear motifs and combination of Ikat and texture from supplementary warm & weft weaves.
Two main clusters in Orissa are Sambalpur in the west and Nuapatna in the east. Sambalpur specialises in cotton saris with patterns symbolising fertility and prosperity, used for ceremonial occasions.
Mulberry and Tussar silk sarees are produced in Sonepur with calligraphy and coiled serpant motifs. Ceremonial silk cloth called Gitagobind Pheta with calligraphic forms, produced in Nuapatna is used to dress the statues of Jagannnnath Trinity
Image via : www.livemint.com
Read an interesting article on Sambalpuri Ikat here: http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/hnocEwiOlAsYxqYlOXK5NP/What-ails-the-Sambalpuri-Ikat.html
Image from my personal collection
Patolas of Gujarat are characterised by their distinctive geometric, floral and figurative double ikat patterns. Woven in Patan, in Gujarat, silk saris produced here and also the technique is often called Patan Patola.
Patola is a painstaking process which takes about 75 days and 3 persons to just tie and dye the yarn and then 25 days or more to complete a single sari, with two persons working simultaneously on the loom. With their Lion and elephant patterns, large quantities of these luxury fabrics were exported to South East Asia, especially Indonesia in the 17th and 18th Centuries
Image via: http://gaurang.co/ Image via: http://gaurang.co/Image via: http://gaurang.co/
These saris, with motifs of dancing women, elephants and parrots were also presented to pregnant women in their 7th month celebrations.
Image via : www.anekdesigns.com
Patolas are my personal favourite and I use recycled Kantha fabrics made from old Patolas, extensively in my products. It is a happy marriage of two crafts that I love! I was lucky to have visited Patan with my batch in NID. We met the Salvi family and spent some time observing the processes.
Check out this beautiful Patan Patola website to know more about the Salvi family and the craft here: http://www.patanpatola.com
Know more about the Patan Step Well : Rani Ki Vav here: http://www.scottishten.org/property4
So then which Ikat style is your favourite? Do you own an exquisite Ikat or know of more designers working with Ikat? Then do share the links and pictures in comments below, we would love to hear from you!
Content source and Research : Handmade in India, Book by Ranjan and Ranjan, I highly recommend getting your own copy!