Ikat is one of the oldest form of textile decoration. In Ikat, bundles of threads are tied together, woven in handloom to create elaborate, multicolor patterns.
The term “ikat” refers to the dyeing technique used to create the designs on the fabric. It is a resist dyeing process, where bundles of yarn are tightly wrapped together and then dyed as many times as is required to create the desired pattern. This dyeing process is different because the yarns are dyed before being woven into cloth. In most of the other resist-dyeing techniques, like batik for example, it is the final cloth and not the yarn, that’s dyed.
Once the yarns have been suitably dyed and dried, the weaver lines them up on the loom to form the pattern. The design takes form as the yarn is woven into cloth. This is an incredibly complicated process, as the weaver has to precisely dye the threads, and place them correctly so it forms the correct pattern when woven. Just to reiterate how hard this is… in order to replicate a pattern, the weaver would have to dye the thread in exactly the same place as before AND line it up on a loom in EXACTLY the same place ANDthen they’d have to weave it exactly the same way.
There are three different Ikat weaving techniques. These are warp ikat, weft ikat and double ikat. Let’s take a look at what each of them are.