Not many people know the origin of Indonesian ikat, and today we will tell you about this laborious process. Indonesia is the city of batik and ikat, the most beautiful handmade ethnic fabrics. This fabric is created on the island of Bali, this place is also called the “Island of the Gods”. In Bali, the center of ikat is a small mountain village, Tenganan.
Ikat is a fabric made by the most ancient methods of hand weaving. The named technology is about 5,000 years old, its history goes back to the Bronze Age. Ikat is the pinnacle of weaving art, jewelry work. When stroking an ikat, it’s hard to stop.
In our post era of rockets and tablets, handicrafts are especially pleasant to us. Ikat fashion is reviving, it acquires special value for us. Ikat is not just a fabric, it is a symbol of a magical return to sources, an aura of handwork. The miracle of the ikat and the tablet are equal in importance things.
There is one-sided and two-sided (double ikat) ikat. For one-sided ikat, the pattern is applied only to the warp threads (these are the threads along the canvas). Two-sided ikat drawing is applied to both the warp and the weft (weft is a transverse threads).Two-sided ikat – aerobatics hand weaving. Even in a one-sided ikat, in order for the drawing not to “blur”, excellent craftsmanship is required. In two-sided ikat, everything is much more complicated. Exact combination of the pattern can only achieve the master of the extra class. Ikat is woven all over the world, but only in India, Japan and Indonesia you will find masters of two-sided ikat.
The Role of Ikat in Indonesia
On the islands, where ikat is born, the status of a woman is determined by the quantity and quality of fabrics woven by her. They are taught this art since childhood. Many types of ikat are sacred, they play an important role in rituals. All ikats possess positive magical powers that protect the wearer from evil spirits.
Two-sided, the most complex ikat – a symbol of wealth and power. Such works of weaving art were available only to selected people.
Ikats were used on some islands as money or rich gifts, and even civil wars happened because of them.
For getting acquainted with ikat today we chose the Indonesian two-sided ikat, because:
- this dense fabric is warm, soft and very pleasant to touch;
- all ikats are very rare, and two-sided ikat is a collection fabric, a work of art;
- in real manual ikat only vegetable dyes are used, and all of them have strong healing properties;
- this is the finest handmade work, akin to jewelry;
- here on the Islands, everyone knows that drawing on ikats has positive magic power;
- and finally – ikat is very authentic: it conveys the warmth of the hands of the creators to the owner.
How ikat is made
Ikat threads are spun by hand from local cotton.
In Indonesia, for handmade ikat exclusively natural dyes are used.
The most important of them are:
Blue, indigo – the most ancient paint for fabric. It is obtained from the leaves of the plant of the legume family. More than 700 species of this plant are known around the globe. In eastern medicine, this plant is used as a sedative, with diabetes, hypertension, and digestive disorders. The color indigo itself is called the color of kings, the color of power, luxury and wealth.
Red color is obtained from the bark of local trees and shrubs. In addition to beautiful brick-red paint, these plants are a source of medicine for traditional medicine. Infusions are used for coughing, asthma, diabetes, female disorders and … as a hair shampoo.
Yellow color is made of turmeric, a family of ginger. Turmeric is unique not only as a dye, but also as a wonderful drug. The list of therapeutic properties of turmeric can take more than one page. Antioxidant (protection against aging), antitumor, beneficial for the digestive system and so on.
Different shades of the so-called basic, most important – red, yellow and blue – and other colors are obtained by mixing the basic dyes, and other plants are also sed. It is believed that the tricolor ikat – is magic. It glorifies at once three gods – Brahma (red), Vishnu (yellow) and Shiva (blue-black).
Making high-quality paint is a long and laborious process. It can take weeks and months. And special shades of indigo are obtained after aging in vats for several years.
Now it’s time to apply a sketch on the thread. To do this, they are stretched like a future canvas, fixed in bunches and drawn a sketch.
Each thread of yarn prepared to create an ikat can be dyed and dried many times. This is done in order to achieve the desired shade of each particular color and create a pattern of the future fabric.
Before painting, the master must tie each strand to protect areas that are not supposed to absorb this dye. For example, the area that will be blue is tied up before painting in yellow and red. And the one who is destined to be green should absorb the yellow dye. Likewise, come with a territory for red and blue. But the combination of yellow and blue together will give a green color.
Dyeing takes weeks and even months. Usually men do this. It is necessary to mark the future picture, repeatedly paint in the desired color, dry, re-dress, re-mark, etc.
After several months of spinning, preparation of dyes, dyeing threads, weaving time comes.
Imagine that you sit on the floor, at the lumbar loom. Legs rest against the frame, with your back stretching the future canvas, the warp threads. In your hands you have all sorts of devices with the help of which you weave weft threads with warp threads in staggered order.
This is hard and painstaking work. It takes from one to two weeks to make a scarf dressing about 20×110 centimeters from a two-sided ikat. In comparison with this, the work of Cinderella will seem like a pretty entertainment.