Everything about Ikkat: Combination of tradition and color

Ikat is an elaborate dying process done with silk or cotton fabrics. The end result is a piece of cloth bathed and glittered in colorful patterns. More often than not, Orissa Ikat is associated with sarees. Ikat patterns are dyed and binded into the threads before cloth is weaved. This differentiates it from the Tie and Dye process where the fabric is woven in the first place. ikkat pattu sarees online shopping

Origin and History

The technique which is known today as Ikkat had it’s origins in different parts of the world such as South East Asia, Central Asia, South America and West Africa. Ikat is one of the most ancient techniques of dyeing fabrics. The term “Ikat” itself is a derivation from the Malay word mengikat which means to tie or to bind.

As per sources of information, Orissa Ikat dates back to the 12th century when artisans from the Patan region of modern day Gujarat migrated to Orissa and carried forward the craft.


Orissa Ikat mainly showcases three varieties:

  • Single Ikat is a process in which either the warp yarns or the weft are dyed.
  • The second procedure of combined Ikkat has both warp yarns and the weft being used together in different parts of the fabric.
  • Double Ikat involves both warp and weft threads tied in a greatly precise manner so that when the threads from both axis mesh with each other at certain points to show up a completed pattern.

The Making

Orissa Ikat uses a process called `resist dying’. Essentially the core fabric materials used in the Orissa Ikat are silk or cotton. The tools required for carrying out the process are – Pick, scissors, dye vats, rubber bands, or other tying material to resist dye.

The process starts with the warp or weft threads being bundled and bound with rubber bands which can resist the action of dye colors. The bundles, then, are tied to a wooden frame and put into the dye vat. Here they are given repeated dye treatments to generate bands of pattern.Once the dying process is completed, then starts the complex and intricate process of weaving these threads into a stable piece of fabric. The entire process involves almost an entire family’s participation in different aspects.

Present Day Scenario

Apart from other countries where Ikat is practiced, in India, Ikat is prevalent in 3 states – Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Ikat as a craft has reached its pinnacle of perfection in Orissa. Orissa Ikat work is carried out in the regions of Bargarh, Sambalpur, Sonepur and some other districts of Orissa. The artisans of Orissa Ikat predominantly belong to the Meher community.

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