- Handloom -


Ikat textile prowess throughout the world, from ancient times to present, has rested largely on India’s unrivalled skills in dyeing and weaving. Textiles dyed and woven in Ikat technique are very popular and include the satin weave in Tamil Nadu and simple cotton weaves from Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Ikat is an intricate dyeing technique. It is used to pattern textiles by employing “resist dyeing” on the yarns prior to dyeing and weaving. The resist is a tight wrapping that binds individual yarns, or bundles of yarn.

The yarn is then dyed and the resist causes a desired pattern. The bindings may be altered to create a new pattern and the yarns dyed again with another colour. This process may be repeated several times to produce elaborate, multi-coloured patterns. When the dyeing is finished the bindings are removed and the yarn is woven into cloth.

In the weaving of ikat, it is either the warp (verticle yarn) or weft (horizontal yarn) that brings the pattern to life. When both the warp and weft are dyed it is called a double ikat and this requires the most skilled and experienced artisan.

In warp ikat, it is only the warp yarns that are dyed using the ikat technique. The weft yarns are dyed a solid colour. But the ikat pattern is clearly visible in the warp yarns wound onto the loom even before the weft is woven in.

In weft ikat, it is the weft yarn that carries the dyed patterns. And the pattern only appears as the weaving proceeds. Weft ikats are much slower to weave than warp ikat because the weft yarns must be carefully adjusted after each passing of the shuttle to maintain the design’s clarity.

Double ikat, the most difficult to make, is also the most expensive. The master weaver draws up the designs and patterns as the yarn is divided into warp and weft bundles. The prepared warp is taken to the weaver who, with his family, then begins the pre-loom process of charka (spinning wheel).

The arrangement of warp and weft threads requires much skill if the dyed sections are to appear at the right places in the design. The dressing and weaving is done on the loom with 25 metres of warp set on the loom at once. It usually takes four to five days to weave a warp. A double weft and warp Ikat can take from 10 to 15 days to weave.

Ikats of Telangana have been awarded Geographical Indication (GI) status. This means that only ikat produced in this area can be called Telangana Ikat.

With our artisan partners in Telengana, we are developing contemporary ikat weaves, marrying traditional techniques with a greater variety of natural fibres, including Australian Merino Wool & linens, and designs and colour palettes that are specifically tailored to the international market.

The weavers are working towards accreditations for sustainability with the use of higher quality yarns, tighter weaves for garment production and the use of certified dyes, all while retaining the traditional dyeing and weaving techniques that result in beautiful handcrafted cloth.

Photo Gallery