A coalescence of beautiful colors & patterns!
To be perfectly honest, I know Ikat Sarees by its sobriquet Pochampally Sarees. Beautiful colors and blurry designs of IKAT Sarees neatly stacked in my grandmother’s wardrobe attracted me first. It was natural, right? I was so mesmerized by the magical patterns that I recall wearing them to my college. I leave it to you to imagine if I was a poseur :)
The artistic patterns of Ikat had always fascinated me, and my understanding of it has strengthened. Recently, when I ventured into curating the Pochampally Ikat Sarees, I learned how marvelous and complex the IKAT fabric making is and I wish to share with you about this magical ornamentation & how the patterns produced with the elegant touch of the hand of a weaver.
So What is Ikat?
Ikat is most well-known in India, Indonesia, Japan and indeed has textiles across Latin America and parts of Europe, owing to Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese colonialism in Southeast Asia from the 16th century. It is amazing how the entire world comes together with this one fabric. United by a common technique, Ikat textiles are astonishingly diverse in their imagery.
The term ‘IKAT’ is literally coming from Malay-Indonesian term ‘Mengikat’, interpreting to tie or to bind. It is a very ancient process of producing patterns in fabric by resist-dyeing the yarns before the fabric woven. The process refined at various stages to produce elaborate, mottled patterns. When artisans satisfied with the dye, all the bindings removed and they weave the yarns into cloth.
"In other resist-dyeing techniques, such as tie-dye and Batik, the resist is applied to the woven cloth, whereas in Ikat the resist is applied to the yarns before they are woven into cloth."
Production of Ikat Sarees in India
Concentrated mainly in the regional states of Gujarat (Patola), Orissa (Sambalpuri), and Telangana (Pochampally). Each region produces a splendid array of traditional and contemporary Ikat patterns conforming to the socio-culture of each community.
Character & Style:
The whimsical patterns and bold colors give Ikat the quintessential bohemian vibe.
A characteristic of Ikat textiles is apparent “blurriness” to the design. The blurriness results from the extreme difficulty the weaver has in lining up the dyed yarns so that the pattern turns out perfectly in the finished cloth.
The Ikat weave is remarkably distinctive and varies from geometrical shapes to abstract patterns. A typical factor of the patterns is a blurry effect, which emerges from the sheer difficulty experienced by the weaver in lining up the dyed yarn. Although this blurriness is a signature element of the Ikat pattern, weavers can create Ikat with little or no blurring. Since this requires greater dexterity and takes longer to produce, textiles with these patterns are more extravagant & expensive than the classic ones.
Single Ikat (weft-resist textile) & Double-Ikat (warp and weft are tie-dyed):
Single Ikat fabrics produced by interweaving tied and dyed warp with plain weft. Double Ikat involves resisting on both warp and weft and then interlacing them to form intricate yet well composed patterns.
A master weaver in charge of the design process translates the design from a graph paper to the warp and weft yarns. With a significant amount of precision, he / she marks the areas that need dyeing and the others that should resist it. The feature of these models results from an unbelievable amount of effort.
Plain-weave Ikat fabrics, because of the unique resist patterning, look the same on both sides of the fabric; there is no right side and wrong side to the cloth.
I am sure you can imagine the difficulty the weaver has in lining up the dyed yarns, so the pattern appears wonderful in the finished fabric. The more colors and sophisticated patterns IKAT has, the further complex it is to weave perfectly. This shows the IKAT its characteristics and appreciated more because of it.
Personally, I love the fact that none of the IKAT Sarees are exactly the same and it has imperfections in the patterns. Tickling with Pochampally Ikat frenzy? Shop our Pochampally Ikat Sarees here.