Cover Ikat weaver

Ikat: The Ancient Art of a Technique from Indonesia

As we’ve already said, the resists should be waterproof which basically means that they are made of waterproof natural materials (different plants’ fibers) or by the plastic. The waterproof resists can be removed and repositioned as many times as needed in order to get the desired design.

3.    Dyeing the Tied Strings

Once they are tied, the strings are detached from the frame. They are positioned in a large plastic container where they are dyed using either natural or synthetic dyes. In the case of the usage of the natural dyes, the process of dyeing may last much longer since the cloth should be passed through the color concentration a large number of times until the results are satisfying. However, this option is popular among the natives, since they believe that they protect their relationship with nature and associate the natural dyes with magic. The coloration using the synthetic dyes doesn’t require much time and their efficiency is the main reason for their popularity nowadays.

The Wonderful Ikat Designs

Gorgeous ikat for sale in Flores market

The design of the ornaments that will appear on the ikat fabric once the process is done depends on:

  • the way the strings are grouped and covered with the resists,
  • the number of time the process is repeated,
  • the period that the cloth spends dipped in the color container.

It is not rare for people in Indonesia to decide what the cloth should be used for based on its ornament. The quality and the colors of the ornament may also give some hints about the origins of the cloth (in which part of the country it was made or even more precise – who is the exact producer of the fabric).

The ornaments and the fabrics are the symbols of fertility and feminity since the women are the ones to create patterns and designs. They keep their knowledge for themselves considering it as the sacred skill and only share it with their inheritresses who are supposed to preserve the ikat technique. The ikat experts are usually the older woman and there is a saying that young girls should not be involved in the ikat production since their souls are too fragile, weak, and sensitive to provide a nice ikat without any complications – their engagement in the early age is said to make the natural forces angry.

Ikats in Bali market

4.    Weaving the Dyed Strings

When the dyeing procedure is finished and the threads are completely dry, all of the resists should be detached in order for the threads to be woven on the loom. During the process of the yarn positioning, the workers have to be extremely cautious, since badly positioned threads may result in poor and pointless ornaments.

There are various types of the looms but the most popular one is the back-strap loom. The procedure using the back-strap loom consists of weaving the strings in a continuous wrap and when this is done, the fabric can be detached from the loom in a complete circle. In order to get the rectangular ikat fabric, the unwoven part should be cut. However, the type of the loom does not affect the procedure of weaving – it remains pretty much the same. Many producers would say that the weaving, as a last step in the process of the ikat production, represents the phase that requires less effort when compared to the previous ones. However, it still requires a lot of attention and hard work.

Bali Aga girls with their unique double weaved ikat, geringsing

Nowadays, many people don’t understand this dyeing technique and they are not aware of its cultural and traditional importance – especially when we talk about tourists. They may not admire the ikat fabrics and may consider them as the pretty ordinary things because of the lack of their knowledge about how special and time consuming the process of creating this wonderful fabric is.

However, if you spend some time watching the Ikat production procedure, it will undoubtedly change your mind and it will make you want to dive into the ancient story of this impressive technique. You may even decide to take part in it, and in this case, you can visit the ikat workshops and production places that can be found all around Indonesia.