Ikat!



Ikat Dupattas from Smitz Collection 
                                                           I discovered Ikat in form of Pochampalli saree that was part of my wedding trousseau. My mother had taken the journey to village cluster in Pochampalli to source this saree. It is in deep blue silk with characteristic  geometrical patterns in flaming orange. This saree always made me feel special because it has not so common colour combination. Years later , I got to see the grandeur of Ikat as I was bestowed by double Ikat saree of my grandmother as legacy. This one is in another unusual combination of grey and blue with golden zari and has pallu in restrained yet grand complex geometrical patterns. The designs are intricate yet light.




                                   My mother sensing my awe had remarked "Ikat"!

The name itself is so global. Ikat was present in my life and I realised it is Ikat while researching on textile art. It was present in form of thick bright coloured cotton dresses commonly known as Sambalpuri cotton. Ikat made its presence felt as bed linens picked up for its geometrical patterns that broke the floral brigade and monochromes. The importance of Ikat in textile art, its contribution in cultural landscapes of countries and it's glorious history was evident to me , while i continued my research on textile arts.

I fell in love with Ikat. Why not, like countless handloom lovers, artists, designers and weavers I embraced Ikat in my life with appreciation of the amazing skill that weaving Ikat requires.

Ikat, simply put, is weaving after resist dying of yarns. If both wrap and weft are dyed and used to create patterns -its double ikat. The process involved multiple steps and Ikat weaving is highly laborious and skill driven. This art is practiced in India, Japan, South America , Central Asia and Indonesia. Double Ikat is rare as its epitome of skill. Patan in Gujarat (India) is one of centers producing Double Ikat in the world. No wonder designers like Ayush Kejriwal , Gunrang Shah have made Patan Patola star of their collections in recent years.

Patola Ikat Saree from Jaypore.com 
Patan Patola by Gaurang Shah Image: Gaurang Shah 

Sambalpur Ikat has strong recall in minds of general public, mostly known or called as Odisha Ikat. This is prominent in Eastern India. If you travel West , Ikat changes its source to Gujarat. Go south and Ikat is what Pochampalli or generally Andhra produces. These centers have their distinct styles and are given GI by government.

While Sambalpuri Ikat stands out for its curvilinear edges and blurriness, it's has wide range of motif directory that includes lotus, deer, shankha, scrolls, flowers and even alphabets.Gradients in dyeing adds to tonal depth.The colors range from orange-red, dull pinks, red and black to muted yellows and browns. Interestingly, the basic material for dye production - lac and indigo - is imported from neighboring states. Many designers have utilised the sambalpuri ikat in creative manner beyond its traditional usage of saris. Sujit Meher's brand Tilottama Sambalpuri aims to promote ikat from Odisha with contemporary touch. 



Sujit Meher and his Sambalpuri Ikat collection. 


For  heritage and exclusivity , Patolas is gems of weaving and specifically of Ikat. Patan Ikat or Patola is famed for its rich and vibrant geometrical designs that is epitome of  skill set of its weavers. Since generations, patolas has preserved in its wraps and wefts a unique design vocabulary along with weaving story par excellence. Designer Gaurang Shah  has used Patolas extensively in his collections and is credited to bring these back in vogue. His Patolas combine heritage with new age vibrancy.
Kiron Kher in Gaurang Shah's Patola collection ' Stridhan' 

Andhra Ikat started in form of it seems -well- as hanki. It traces it's roots in weaving telia rumal. Seems finer variety of telia rumals were used as veils by ladies of aristocratic families. After period of high demand, Andhra Ikat faced near extinction. Timely help of All India Handloom Board saw emergence of Nalgonda district as center of Ikat production in the state. With mass commercialisation , the uniqueness of telia rumal i.e. checks were almost lost, the Ikat of Andhra became more an imitation of Ikat of other parts of India. Andhra Ikat for few years, adapted to styles and demand but generally said to be lacking in the finesse (like of Sambalpuri) or complexity (like of Patan Patola). Pochampally as village cluster in this district is synonymous with Ikat of Andhra.Interventions from designers and various government agencies have restored few elements of  traditional skill set which now sets Pochampally Ikat apart from other Ikats in it's design vocabulary.


Ikat Dupattas from Smitz Collection 17
                      My brand Smitz has range of Ikat cotton dupattas in reds, blacks, whites and orange. These are perfect for relaxed office wear or stylish casual wear. Ikat Dupattas are comfortable wraps that can upgrade simple kurtis or tops to chic outfit within seconds. See my ikat inspired pinterest board for more.

Ikat is ever evolving story of textile arts, it is evergreen in style and boasts of instant connect that steams from it's strong global footprint as folk art. Ikat is power, it is fun and cheerful. It is about sober and subtle grandure.It is timeless and yet relevant. Ikat is what love of weaving is about, of discovering the strong impact that simple geometrical patterns can have. Ikat is Ikat. Own one.



Image courtesy: Google search and Author's own.  


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