Love for Pochampally Ikat Silk Saree is next only to Kanjeevaram

Ikat Silk  Sarees are a “Must Have” for all Handloom Lovers…..

My love for Ikat Silk Sarees is next only to Kanjeevarams silk Sarees.  The moment you say Ikat, what is it that appears in the mind??   Geometric patterns…., squares, triangles, Vs, Ws and Xs on the fabric, right?  Yes!!   Now I know why I like Ikat.  I like everything straight & simple…. attire, attitude, roads and even the plan of my house. This “Ikat love” has led to me acquiring some of the sarees from those Indian states where they weave this and to learn a little about it.   Let me share a bit of what I know.

Pochampalli Ikat Silk Sarees

Image: Pochampally Ikat Silk Saree

IKAT is an Indonesian word which means ‘thread’ or ‘cord’ as a noun and ‘tie’ or ‘bind’ as a verb.

Ikat is a dyeing technique that uses “resist dyeing” on the yarns prior to weaving, to create patterns on the fabric.  Resist dyeing technique is used in Bandhini & Batik too, where it is done on the woven fabric, whereas in Ikat it’s done on the yarn, prior to weaving.  The resist is formed by binding bundles of yarns with a tight wrapping. The yarns are then dyed. The bindings are altered and yarns are dyed with other colors to create patterns. This process is repeated multiple times to create elaborate multi-colored patterns.

Ikat is produced in many traditional textile centers around the world – Parts of Central Asia, S.E. Asia, Japan, Africa and Latin America are some.

India has many states where Ikat weaving is done traditionally.  Telia Rumal from Andhra, Pochampalli & Puttapaka from Telangana, Pātan & Rajkot patola from Gujarat, Sambalpuri & Pasapalli from Odisha.
There are various types in Ikat weaving.  Warp Ikat, where the warp yarns (those that run parallel to the selvage) are dyed using resist dyeing technique.  Weft yarns are dyed in solid colors.  In the other form, weft Ikat, the weft yarns are resist-dyed and warp yarns are dyed in solid colors. Weft Ikat weaving is much slower than the warp Ikat, as the weft yarns must be carefully adjusted after each passing of the shuttle to get design clarity.

And of course, the most complicated is the double Ikat, where both warp and weft yarns are resist dyed.  On my previous visit to Nalagonda weavers, I wanted to pick-up some double Ikat bedspreads. When I asked the master-weaver for some, he jokingly said, “madam, don’t even mention about double Ikat. All the weavers will run away”.  Jokes apart, the complexity of weaving and his meager earnings are what makes the weaver run away.  He wouldn’t mind slogging in a factory all day, then moving the shuttle, listening to the rhythmic ‘clickety-clack’ of the loom.  Sad, isn’t it? God bless revivalists.  But for them, we would have lost most handwoven fabric in India.


I sincerely wish that weavers’ lives get better. And, handlooms are expensive? Yes, they are expensive, for all that creativity and hard work that goes into it… they are worth it.

ikat Silk Saree - weavemaya

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