Ikat is a dyeing method in which the threads themselves are dyed and then woven, rather than dyeing the finished fabric. The word is Indonesian, and the ikats of that region can be incredibly precise and elaborate, resembling printed rather than woven fabric. I first came across the fabric in my dress-designing days, when one of my fabric wholesalers offered an Indian ikat. There are some beautiful sarees made in India which are double ikat – both the warp and weft being ikat-dyed. I was also privileged some time ago to watch ikat being made at Artisans d’Angkor, in Cambodia. The skill almost died out under the Khmer Rouge and it is wonderful to see it being resurrected. It can also be found in Thailand, South and Central America,
Spain and Japan.
But the style of ikat that most appeals to me comes from the Silk Route in what is now Uzbekistan, Kyrghystan, and Xinjiang. Suppressed in the Soviet era, ikat is now making a come-back in Uzbekistan in particular, and this is the style which will probably be most familiar to anyone who follows decorating trends.
What is your preferred ikat style?