Now to the main question that I have been asked very often ‘What is ikat? What does it mean? What is the translation of the word? Is it Tajik or Russian?’ These are all good questions and as a logical continuation of my introductory Blog on Tajikistan, I thought it would be great to talk about it. Ikat is at the heart of Salomat Ikat.
I have found out that there are some nice blog posts and articles written about Ikat in various ways. When I posted my first blog post I was contacted by few bloggers who wrote positive comments on my blog, one of them mentioned about his blog post on Ikat. His name is Jahongir Usmanov and I would like to thank him for his wonderful research on Ikat. (here is the link to more detailed information about Ikat http://jahongirnoma.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/weaved-clouds-of-central-asia.html?m=1 ) .
So what does the word ikat mean? Ikat actually comes from the Indonesian/Malay language. Depending on the context, can have several meanings “cord, thread, knot” and “to tie” or “to bind.” (Wikipedia)
Ikat is a dyeing technique used to pattern fabric that employs resist dyeing. Resist dyeing is used to prevent the dye from reaching all of the cloth. For ikat it is used on the threads or yarns. Resist dyeing is a process similar to tie-dyeing. The individual threads or yarns are bound and dyed. The dyed threads or yarns are then hand woven by our artisans into patterns. The blurriness of the patterns is caused by the great difficulty in lining up the colors of the tie-dyed threads and creates the pattern on both sides of the fabric. These are the recognizable characteristic of the ikat design. Ikat material is handwoven on narrow looms which are about 15.7″ to 23.6″ wide (mostly 16” wide) and have beams ending every 225cm.
Ikat weaving process. Photo credit to Tim Stanley.
As a result, this beam makes a characteristic stripe in the ikat design at this interval. The blurriness that is so characteristic of ikat that it is often prized by textile collectors.
Here is the image of the stripe. If you see this it means it has been handmade and all is good :-)
I have seen various Ikats from places like India and Indonesia, however I just wanted to highlight that the Ikat fabric with which I grew up different than these other countries. The Central Asian Ikats can be a basic two color design or they go into quite complicated colourful and cheerful multicoloured designs. These fabrics are worn as every day casual wear, business casual wear and even to weddings.
Excellent example of Tajik or Central Asian Ikat. Photocredit to Explore Tajikistan FB page.
I love wearing ikat design outfits made in a nice stylish and modern way like we have at Salomat Ikat because it gives me this beautiful nostalgia of my childhood in Tajikistan. Whenever I wear them I think of the lovely, warm, and kind hands of the women artisans who made the gorgeous fabric. I feel privileged to wear it. The women are so happy whenever they see me wearing our fabrics. It is our traditional fabric and it’s good to preserve our culture and traditions.
This is a picture of my beautiful Mother wearing Ikat dress and as a good keeper of traditions here is me wearing Ikat dress :) Following my Mother's example.
Last week my American friend called me and asked ‘Right, you need to tell me how do you pronounce ikat…I said how do you say it and she said [aikat]’… Hmm...So, this gave me a thought that I probably need to point out that in Tajikistan and most Russian speaking part of the world we say [i:kʌt]’ not [aikat]’…I don’t know why it is pronounced [aikat]’ and why we say it [i:kʌt] but the way at Salomat Ikat we say is [i:kʌt] :-). As well as this we actually call this pattern not just ikat but by the type of fabric also, such as ‘atlas, adras, jins-atlas, shoi etc.’. Thus, if you will be visiting a Central Asian country and say in the market ‘I want to buy ikat design fabric’ – mostly sellers won’t understand you. But if you say ‘I want atlas or adras’ etc. they will immediately understand that you want ikat design fabric’. Let me go into the details of this.
I think it is important to mention about types of ikat pattern (but very briefly) what kind of material is used, cotton or silk.
The silk Ikats are called ‘Atlas’ in Tajikistan. The 80% silk to 20% cotton are called Adras. Adras can be as well 100% cotton, or 60/40% silk and cotton blend. Just to mention that if you are interested to know all the names and types of the pattern you can find it in Jahongir Usmanov's blog post.
Tajikistan was producing beautiful Ikats during Soviet Union however since the country was in a Civil war after the break down of the Soviet Union back in early 90s, all the Ikat development was slowed down. However, now the government is encouraging and developing Ikat making which is a really good news. In my next trip to Tajikistan, I will go into the places where they produce Ikat fabric and write a blog post about it and have some fascinating videos of women weaving Ikat.
This is a picture of my lovely mother with her two nieces wearing Ikat dresses back in 1960s.
It is very important to mention that as you can see that in Tajikistan and Central Asia Ikat fabric has been used and produced for centuries and nowadays we see the boom among designers using this fabric for their collections. I often see some furniture, cushion covers, bed runners etc including clothes and scarves here in London they are beautifully used however I think that our Ikats are distinctive and even more beautiful :)
Here is a photo of the Dutches of Cambridge in Ikat trousers:
Scandinavian Royalty wearing gorgeous Ikat dress.
Thank you and hope you enjoyed reading this Blog Post.