Ikkat – The 19th Century Art from Andhra Pradesh

Ikkat – The Traditional Art Of India

India has been a massive hub of artistic talent in the field of textiles since ancient times. Indian crafts, being crafted in a very artistic way have left their indelible mark on the whole world. Even today, India is at the forefront of dyeing and weaving clothes. Today, we are going to talk about one of many such arts – ‘Ikat’.  Although the origin of Ikat is considered to be Europe in the 5th century, the history of Ikat fabric in India is traced back to the place named Chirala in the 19th century. Chirala is a coastal region of Andhra Pradesh where Ikat is known as Telia Rumal. This handloom technology emerged from Chirala and reached Nalgonda district. Soon after that, Ikkat fabric of India reached the market of Africa and Arabs and since then, Indian Ikat dress material has gained popularity all over the world.

Ikkat fabric

As its name, oil is used in its preparation, due to which it gives coolness in summers. Ikat fabric is therefore quite widely worn in Arab countries. Earlier, turbans, sheets, gamchas and lungis were made from Ikat cloth, but today Ikat Dress Material is neck to neck with current fashion trends and is worn as a mainstream cloth. You might have seen south Indian actresses wearing ikat print sari, giveing a fantastic look and feel to them.

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Dyeing Process

The process of manufacturing ikkat is a very complicated one and can be done only by skilled weavers. To prepare it, as the first step, all its patterns are engraved on a graph. Following this, the threads are dyed according to the pattern to be made. To dye the threads, they are tied with rubber bands in place. This process is similar to tie-dye or rather it is the same but it is completed by tying it according to the pattern. Only a skilled artisan can do this because this process has to be repeated many times and across many stages.

ikat weaving process

Weaving Process

When the yarn dyeing is completed, it is time to weave it. To do so, the artisan has to make several calculated decisions. The weaver calculates the number of threads required to weave one inch of cloth according to the thickness of the thread. Then the weight of the thread required to weave the required warp is calculated so as to measure the length of the cloth to be made. Different sets of dyed threads are prepared and are eventually spun on the loom, marking the beginning of the weaving process. Weaving requires a skilled weaver who has a thorough knowledge of Ikat weaving. The more intricate the pattern or design and the more colors used in it, the more complex and labor-intensive each step of preparing the cloth it is.

ikkat dress material

Types of Ikat

There are two types of Ikat, first, the ‘single ikat‘ and second, ‘double ikat‘. Single ikat has a bit easier process than double ikat. In single ikat either the warp or the weft is dyed and weaved, but in double ikat both the warp and the weft are tightly dyed first and then woven according to the pattern. Weaving of double ikat is indeed a very complicated process. Double ikat fabric consists of resist dyed yarn in the weft and pattern emerges from the exact combination of these two on the loom.

The Disappearing Ikkat Art

Ikkat print, which has been rapidly dominating the whole world, unfortunately is now slowly disappearing. Reasons include increase in price due to increase in the cost of raw materials, lack of skilled labour, unwillingness to make it due to it’s complicated process and time taken to prepare, etc. However, there are still some designers who are keeping this art alive.

In today’s rapidly changing era, where technology has evolved a lot, the technique of Ikat art has also changed a lot.  These days many youths have figured out new ways to make their designs and patterns with the help of softwares.

ikkat weaving

Ikkat patterns and designs

Ikat can be said to be the gift of Andhra Pradesh and even today Andhra Pradesh is the largest producer of Ikat fabrics in the whole of India.  Although there are many other states which produce Ikat like Gujarat Patan, double Ikat has its own status and dominance. It is believed that Sambalpuri Ikat that its color never fades and it lasts more than 100 years. The specialty of double ikat is that it can be worn from both the sides. Earlier, only geometry prints were engraved on ikat, but with time the prints have also evolved a lot. These days, many different designs are being made on it, which includes patterns like lions, elephants, birds (animal prints), clocks and even airplanes can be seen commonly.

Where to buy Ikkat dress material?

Generally speaking, if you want to buy state specific traditional ikat, then you have to go purchase it from any decent fabric shop in Andhra Pradesh. But if you want to buy it online at your doorstep, then you can buy it as per your choice from fabrohub.com