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Southeast Asia Finest Textile | What is Ikat?

Updated: May 31

Ikat is one of the most historically ancient forms of textile in Southeast Asia. Because of the complexity and time-consuming, Ikat becomes one of the most prestigious textiles in the world. This textile is a symbol of wealth and power for many cultures.



The process of making a single ikat textile can take many months, depending on the size, quality, and pattern. In Ikat, the resist is created by Individual binding yarn to create a pattern and must precisely dye the tread and place them correctly to form the correct pattern when woven. This process required to be repeated multiple times to produce an elaborate, multicolored motif. Each method has to be precise and perfect.



A characteristic of ikat textiles is an apparent "blurriness" to the design. The blurriness is a result of the extreme difficulty the weaver has in lining up the dyed yarns so that the pattern comes out perfectly in the finished cloth. The blurriness can be reduced by using finer yarns or by the skill of the craftsperson. Ikats with slight blurriness, multiple colors, and complicated patterns are more difficult to create and, therefore, often more expensive.



There are three types of Ikat, each of them has a different technique that determines quality and price.


Warp Ikat

In Wrap Ikat The weft yarns are dyed a solid color. The ikat pattern is clearly visible in the warp yarns wound onto the loom even before the weft is woven in.


Weft Ikat

In weft Ikat it is the weaving of weft yarn that carries the dyed patterns. Therefore, 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 clarity of the design.


Double Ikat

This is the most complicated and most expensive Ikat out of the three.

Double Ikat is a technique in which both the warp and the weft are resist-dyed before weaving. This type of Ikat also has the best materials because it is usually made from fine silk. Finding this Authentic type of Ikat is extremely rare, and usually, it belongs to a museum. In the old day's only Kings and the royal family can obtain this luxury textile.

Click here to learn more about double Ikat


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