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The History of Ikats – A Poetry of Loom

Have blurry cotton prints ever satisfied your aesthetic senses? If that’s a yes, then you are in for more delight. If the answer is a no, then you are about to break into a new level of textile fashion.  And hey, by ‘blurry cotton prints’, you know we are talking about the Ikats. Honestly, there’s […]

The History of Ikats – A Poetry of Loom

Have blurry cotton prints ever satisfied your aesthetic senses? If that’s a yes, then you are in for more delight. If the answer is a no, then you are about to break into a new level of textile fashion. 

And hey, by ‘blurry cotton prints’, you know we are talking about the Ikats. Honestly, there’s nothing like it. So that was an easy giveaway.  

One of the many obvious reasons it stands out is due to its detailed technicality. The weaves are woven with calculated precision that replicating another would be an extremely demanding task. It takes that much care and effort for the technique to be appealing. Have we caught your attention yet? Let’s take a peek into the legacy of Ikats to find out its grandiose stature.

Where It Began

Ikat, meaning to bind or tie, takes its origin from the Malay-Indonesian region. It has traveled around the world through Japan, Cambodia, Thailand, Iran, and Latin America. South and Central Asian countries have a staple distribution of Ikats, which ideally makes them one of the largest celebrators of Ikats. 

They independently came into existence in different versions leading them to differ in the cultural utility based on each country. No wonder they’re so rich in nature! It’s the universality that takes the cup away with this one. Even in terms of usage, they adapt into circumferences rather effortlessly. What started as garments, went on to represent culture, and later into the homes as decors and furnishings. All the while keeping the richness intact. 

The name ‘Ikat; comes from the Malay word – Mengikat meaning ‘to bind’. They have been called different names over the centuries like chine in France to represent its market from China, Pompadour silk in Europe due to the alleged Madame de Pompadour’s tryst with the fabric, and abr in Turkish meaning cloud. Flourishing through all these traditions, Ikats bloomed as one of the most unique and artful pieces of work – absolutely no debate there!

The ‘Poetry of Loom’ as it is admiringly called (and sure is a deserving title), was once a symbol of the wealthy. Due to its intricate weaving technique and labor-intensive process, commerce was highly dependent on the elite classes to uplift the weaving industry. Today, the cotton Ikat prints remain a classic favorite for their elegance and comfort.

Types of Ikats

Moving on to an interesting revelation, Ikats are not limited to a monotonous method of making. Ikats usually undergo resist dyeing where the colors do not penetrate throughout the fabric but only on the surfaces. It weaves into beautiful patterns through techniques like weft, warp, and double-ikat printing styles. Not to brag, but Thoppia, as is known for its ‘serious fun’ in weaving, takes up warping print for their products. Now, what are these techniques exactly?

  • For Weft Ikats, the warp yarn is dyed a solid color and the weft threads are given ikat dyes – produced from eco-friendly sources. They are then arranged in the desired fashion on the loom. The weaver weaves them as it progresses and requires constant tweaking to get the final patterns. 
  • Warp Ikats have the warp threads dipped in ikat dyes. Here, the designs are bonded together beforehand and then arranged on the loom to weave beautiful prints. 
  • Double Ikats are the most complex of the three. They combine the above methods and demand more precision (and the costliest of the lot too).  

For Home Decors 

Right when you thought they are only suitable as garments…surprise, surprise! They are way too classy to stop just there. Ikats have popular demand in the home decor and furnishing industries. They easily run out of stock due to its rapid sale. Quite the favorite among the peeps, no kidding!

Ikat prints are widely used to make floor cushions, cushion covers, bedspreads, and so much more. Its highly efficient breathing fabric unveils a healthy atmosphere. And shall I keep going with its trendy looks? (I really can, I don’t mind!) 

They give a quirky twist to the houses and stay modern forever. And that’s something rare to see in house furnishings. They either go dull, boring, or out of style. But with Ikats, a woven marvel, the fashion always remains.

And don’t worry, if you’re still doubtful about carrying it off, I-kat you! (Please tell me you got that…)

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