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What is ikat fabric?

The word ikat means to bind. It is a very ancient way of creating designs in fabric by resist-dyeing the threads before the fabric is woven. In Thailand, villagers take the weft (crosswise filling threads) and tie tiny bits of plastic onto the threads. The tightly tied areas of thread, when put into the dye pot, resist the color and create a pattern, once the plastic ties are removed. Traditional Thai ikat cottons are often indigo-dyed in lively and engaging motifs representing the village life and beliefs of the people. Modern Thai ikats in cotton and silk are brightly colored with good imported chemical or natural dyes. Visit our About Us section and click on the photos to see the ikat process. How does the ikat fabric differ from other fabric? Ikat fabrics are woven by hand on narrow looms in a labor-intensive process. Thai ikats are generally 34 to 39 wide. Handwovens, free of the chemical additives and stresses of powerloom production, are vastly different in appearance and feel from machine-made fabrics. Plainweave ikat fabrics, due to the unique resist patterning, look the same on both sides of the fabric; there is no right side and wrong side to the cloth. The Thai ikats typically have 2 to 3 solid borders along each selvage. Many designers make use of these special qualities. Because handwovens tend to ravel when washed, plan to finish your seam allowances with an overlock or zigzag stitch, bind your seam allowances, or do French or felled seams. My friend Jane zigzags all her edges after cutting to keep things neat.

Clothing by Susan McCauley

Ikat Ikat textiles are among the most highly prized fabrics in the world. They are renowened for their brillian colours and comples patterns and design. Production of ikat textiles in India is mainly concentrated in the regional states of Gujrat, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. Each region produces a rich variety of traditional and contemprary ikat patterns corresponding to the socio-culture of each community. Ikat textile's are mainly produced in the form of saree, but due to urban demand now dupattas (veils or long scarfs), lungis (cloth worn by men) and yardage is also being produced.

Ikat or yarn resist dyeing is a type of weaving where the warp, weft or both are tie-dyed before weaving to create designs on the finished fabric. There are 3 ikat categories 1. Single Ikat - tyeing and dyeing of either warp or weft 2. Combined Ikat - both warp and weft ikat coexist in different part of the fabric 3. Double Ikat - both warp and weft threads are dyed in such a manner, that when woven, form a predetermined pattern (Patola of Gujrat)

The Bandhas of Orissa (Ikat) Patola of Gujrat (Double Ikat Weaving) Ikat textiles of Andhra Pradesh

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IKAT - is a type of
weaving where the warp, weft or both are tie-dyed before weaving to create designs on the finished fabric. Great care must be taken in tying resist areas with water repellent material such as bicycle inner tubes cut into strips. The precision of the wrapping determines the clarity of the design. After wrapping, the warp threads are dyed. When finished and unwrapped, the areas under the ties have stayed the original colour. Numerous colours can be added after additional wrappings. Designs generally are worked out on graph paper. Great care must be taken in putting the warp on the loom, keeping all the threads in position is necessary for the design to work. The natural movement during weaving gives ikat designs a feathered edge which characterize this technique .

Patan Patola

Gujarat, in northern India is home of one of the most famous ikat traditions called the Patan Patola. These silk fabrics are double ikat, traditionally done with vegetable dyes, but now using chemical dyes. The complexity of having both the warp and weft resist dyed makes the actual weaving much more demanding of precision. The intersection of these threads must be precise or the design is lost.
A sari length takes two men seven months to complete. Therefore it is no wonder that Patola weaving is dying out, with only two families remaining at the craft. These saris are prized pieces , but have been so throughout history. Mr. Salvi weaves on the special loom Top

The simple frameless looms used are an interesting arrangement of warp stretched across the room under tension with heddles suspended

Koyalagudum, Andra Pradesh is

one of the busiest hand weaving villages centred around a co-

operative producing thousands of metres of ikat each month. They specialize in warp ikat particularly suitable for furnishing fabrics made from cotton. Saris are also produced, this demand never ending as the average middle class woman owns at least 100 saris. Each weaver works from home with all the family helping in different processes. Perhaps the grandmother is winding bobbins, while the wife is marking out the design on warp threads and the husband is weaving on a pit loom in the main living area. In one corner rice is being sieved and tamarind is spread out. A child wanders around and a baby is in a hammock. Life revolves around weaving.

The village co-operative owns several of these large warping mills which members use to create a warp quickly.

ORISSAN style of ikat has a long

tradition dating back at least to the 12th century. Weavers migrated from the Patan area bringing the basic techniques which then developed over time to a unique style of flowing designs. The resist tying is done finely on two-thread units giving greater detail and fine curves. These units are tied freehand without marking out the threads beforehand. These men are opening out a newly dyed warp.

Orissan house decorations drawn with rice paste, dedicated to the Goddess of Harvest Laksmi

Cotton fabrics || Silk weaves

|| Tie and dye fabrics || Hand-printed and painted fabrics || Folk embroideries || Woolen weaves

India has a wide range of textiles of varied designs and manufactured by numerous techniques when compared to other countries in the world. The styles depend upon the location of the place, climatic conditions, cultural influences and trade contacts. The varied topography of India from the snowy mountains to the rich river valleys and from the lush forests to the arid deserts as well as the various cultures brought down here from the invaders have influenced the growth of a number of textile weaves.

Bengal and Kerala where the land is lush and green mostly wear white clothes. The desert area, which comprises of parts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi sport intense sun- burnt colors with strong linear patterns. Embroidery and mirror works are predominant here. The rich river plains have a softer texture and milder colors with linear patterns and well-defined borders. Mostly floral patterns are used for the decorations of the cloth. In the Deccan region, the colors match the black alluvial soil of the area. Dark maroon, bottle green and turquoise blue are common colors here. The dry A and hot clime of the Southern states, which comprises Tamilnadu, weaver in his Karnataka and Andhra, favors rich and luminous colored silks. work The Himalayan area, which consists of Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and Northern parts of Uttar Pradesh, concentrates on woolen weaves with highly geometric patterns woven in tapestry weave in the primary colors. Cotton Fabrics The Indian subcontinent is the home for the Cotton crop. The art of weaving and dyeing of cotton was known in India some 5000 years ago. This has been established by the fact that some cotton fragments have been unearthed from the Harappan area. Cotton fabrics are woven almost throughout the length and breadth of India. The cotton saris of West Bengal are called Jamdani and they follow the traditional patterns. Twisted yarn is closely woven together and so the saris are more lasting. Initially the Jamdani saris were woven for the nobles of North India. Now this art is still practiced in Tanda and Varanasi. This inlay technique is fully indigenous. This Jamdani technique of patterning is found in the cotton centers of Venkatagiri in Andhra, Morangfi in Manipur and Kodialkarruppar in Tamilnadu.

Jamdani work

Chanderi is noted for fine cotton saris and shallus, wraps worn by the womenfolk. The warp is silk and the weft is cotton. The saris carry motifs or roundels or asharfi buti on the body. Maheshwar on the banks of the river Narmada weaves fine cotton saris with tiny checks, which combine complimentary colors together. Very soft colors are used for the dyeing. Maharastrian women wear these saris with the flowing pleats in the front while the back is tucked into the waist.

The Illkal saris of Karnataka and the Narayanpet saris of Andhra also have the same style but they are woven in dark earthen colors. In Illkal, the naturally grown indigo is used for dyeing purposes. Andhra has a rich variety in cotton saris. Gadwal and Wanaparti produce saris of thick cotton body mostly in checks with a contrasting silk border and pallu worked in gold. Nander is famous for its fine quality cottons saris richly worked in gold thread with silk border. Venkatagiri manufactures saris of the Jamdani technique with stylized motifs woven in half cotton and half gold threads. In Tamilnadu, the cotton sari patterns closely resemble the silk ones. The important centers are Kanjeevaram, Salem, Pudukottai and Madurai. Coinbatore has its own style of cotton saris which are less expensive and which resemble the Chanderi patterns. Nowadays cotton saris woven with the traditional silk patterns called Kalakshetra is widely popular.
Kalakshetra sarees

Kerala has started weaving cotton saris of late. Its specialty is the Karalkudi saris of unbleached cotton with rich broad gold borders and pallus. Top

Silk Weaves In India, Varanasi is one of the most famous silk weaving centers. Originally, it produced cotton and was a cotton-weaving center. Silk weaving started in Varanasi for producing saris, dhotis and chaddars for use in worship. Later with the growth of trade and demand for silk fabrics, it began to produce a variety of textiles in silk for personal uses. The specialty of the region is the heavy gold brocade, which has an extra weft of rich gold thread running across the warp threads. The Amru silk brocades of Varanasi are very famous. The amru saris are the Butidar ones enclosed by a border and a heavy pallu of flowering bushes or the flowing mango pattern. The Baluchar technique of weaving brocades with untwisted silk thread was developed in the Murshidabad district of West Bengal. It is based upon the miniature paintings of India. The specialty of the Baluchar saris is the large Pallu with a central pattern of flowing Kalgas, the mango design enclosed by repetitive frames of miniatures. Gujarat is an important brocade center with a class of its own. Extra weft brocade developed in Gujarat only. Silk weaving continues in

Ridrol in Mehsana District and Jamnagar in Saurashtra in Gujarat . Materials for Ghagras, skirts, saris, ordhnis, cholis and many items for religious purposes are also woven here. Small Torans to be hung outside the family temples are also made. South India has a class of its own in silk saris. Heavy lustrous silk with broad borders and elaborate pallus are made here. Contrasting colors are used to produce a harmonious blend of colors. Traditionally the pattern is a part of the woven fabric and not an extra weft. The checks and strips are woven into the warp and weft. Kancheepuram, Tanjore and Kumbakonam are the important silk centers in Tamilnadu. Sangareddy in Andhra, Kolegal and Molkalmoru in Karnataka are also famous silk weaving centers. Tanjore is specialized in weaving the all -over gold saris used for weddings and temple uses. Molkalmoru has its own distinct tradition of simple ikat weave combined with a rich gold border carrying stylized motifs. Top Tie and dye fabrics India has a great variety of Bandhani, tie and dyed fabrics. This form involves a good mastery over dyeing. The fabric is first degummed and dipped in a mordant so that it absorbs the dye. Then the basic divisions of areas, borders etc are carried out. The technique is quite simple. In India, the important centers noted for this technique are Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat and Rajasthan state. Bleached cloth is folded lengthwise and then widthwise into four folds. One side of the width, which has the two ends of the sari, has the intricate patterns of the Pallu, while the border pattern runs down on one side. The patterns on the body are then distributed all over the surface. The dyer indicates the designs to be tied. Then tying the cloth into tiny knots creates the outline of the pattern. Womenfolk generally do the tying works.

Band ani work

Gujarat does saris, which are dark in background color while Rajasthan has developed another technique wherein the background color is light and the patterns are in dark shades. Kutch produces the finest Bandhanis in India. Mandvi and Bhuj are also other important bandhani producing centers. The Khatri community of Gujarat is known for their fine quality dyeing.

The Gharchola saris carry tied and dyed patterns. These saris are traditionally bought for weddings and they carry a gold thread for the checks with small golden motifs like peacock or lotus in the center. These saris are tied and dyed in Kutch. The final red color of the Gharchola saris are dyed in Jamnagar because of the special quality of water there. Rajkot in Saurastra is another important center for bandhanis. In Rajasthan, Jodhpur, Jaipur and Sikar are the notable centers. Sikar produces one of the finest Bandhanis. Another form of tie and dye in Rajasthan is the Lahriya and Mothra. Here the opposite ends of the length of the cloth are pulled and rolled together. They are then tied and dyed in different colors producing multicolored lines. Mothra is formed when the same process is repeated by using the opposite ends. This is done only in Jaipur and Jodhpur. Lahriya technique is used for making turbans for the Rajputs of Rajasthan. In Bihar, the Bandhani technique is worked to create bold patterns in single colors. The same technique is used in Madurai in Tamilnadu to produce the famous Sungudi saris, which are a must for many communities during marriages in the South. The technique of tie and dye of threads before weaving is known as Patola. Internationally it is called as Ikat. Ikat weaving is done in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. In Andhra it is known as Pagdu Bandha Baddabhasi or Chilka. Ikat furnishing weaving is done in the whole of Nalgonda districtt of Andhra. Orissa has a distinct style of Ikat known as Bandha. In this method the single ikat is worked in the warp and the borders are prepared separately. Top Hand - printed and Painted Fabrics The method of hand printing of textiles is found all over India. The important cotton printing centers are in the desert regions of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Alizarin, indigo and many vegetable colors are used for hand painting in these regions. Various methods of printing like direct printing, resist printing and screen-printing are practiced in India. In a method called Kalamkari, the cloth is painted by using a pen with dyes and mordants. This method is widely popular. Direct printing is popular throughout India and it involves a bleached cotton or silk fabric printed with

Wooden block used for printing in fabrics

the help of carved wooden blocks. In hand block printing around three or four colors are used. In the resist method, a paste is made up of different materials and it is used for the printing areas, which are required to resist the dye. The fabric is then immersed in the dye. Top Batik Batik is a medium that lies somewhere between art and craft, and is believed to be at least 2000 years old. The Batik technique is a development of resist printing. The fabric is painted with molten wax and then dyed in cold dyes after which the cloth is washed in hot water. The wax melts and the pattern emerges. The effect of this resist technique is soft and subdued and the outlines are not clearly defined. The basic process of batik is simple. It consists of permeating an area of fabric with hot wax so that the wax resists the penetration of dye. If the cloth we begin with is white, such as bleached cotton, linen, or silk, then wherever we apply hot wax that area will remain white in the final design. After the first waxing the fabric is dipped into a dye bath whose color is the lightest tone of those to be used. When the piece has dried, we see an area of white and an area of cloth that is the color of the first dyeing. Wax is now Batik work applied to those parts in which we wish to retain the first color, and the entire fabric is immersed in the second dye bath whose color is darker in tone than the first. This process is repeated until the darkest tone required in the final design has been achieved. When the fabric, now almost wholly waxed, has dried it is placed

between sheets of absorbent paper and a hot iron applied. As the sheets of paper absorb the wax they are replaced by fresh sheets until the wax is removed. At this point the final design is seen clearly for the first time. In another method of printing, mordants are used. The cloth is first printed with mordants and then immersed in the dye. Only the sections, which have absorbed the mordant, can absorb the dye. The cloth is then washed in flowing waters and allowed to dry in the sun when the colors develop. Then the untreated sections are bleached with local ingredients. Hand printing is practiced in Jaipur, Sanganer, Bagroo, Apli and Barmer in Rajasthan. In Gujarat, Mandvi, Dhamardhka, Mundra, Anjar, Jamnagar, Surrendranagar, Jaitpur, Ahmedabad, Baroda and Deesa are the important centers of printing fabrics. Mandvi and Anjar in Kutch district of Gujarat use both direct printing as well as resist printing. Delhi has many printing establishments, which cater to both the internal and the external markets. Farukhabad in Uttar Pradesh is an important printing center and it produces bed covers, curtains, and hangings for Export. Mausilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh has printers who are specialized in hand printing, Kalamkari printing, Resist printing, block printing as well as Batik works. Hand- painted Batik using locally grown indigo dyes is famous here. Tanjore in Tamilnadu produces fine quality hand printed saris with the resist method in a village called Kodial. Gold work patterns are woven in the body of the sari and the outlines are worked with a combination of Kalamkari and printing which produces a rich and delicate look. Top Folk Embroidery In India, folk embroidery is always associated with the women folk. It is a form of their self-expression. They create patterns that are connected with their native culture, their religion, and their desires. In short, the pieces mirror the daily life of the people. Women embroider clothes for their personal use, for their children, their husbands, the elderly members of the family, etc. The people connected with the pastoral occupation prepare embroidered animal decorations. Decorative covers for the horns, forehead etc, for the bulls, the horses ,etc are prepared. The Rabaris of Kutch district in Gujarat do some of the finest

Emb roidery work being done

embroidered decorations for the camel.

Embroidered pieces are also prepared for use during festivals, marriages and other important social functions. The embroidered or appliqu work called Dharaniya is an important decoration for the homes of Saurashtra and Kutch people. Embroidered Torans are put on the walls during festivals. Long Pattis, running embroidered strips cover the rafters. One of the important techniques of Saurashtra is the heer embroidery which has bold geometric patterns worked in silk. The Mutwa women of the Banni area of Kutch have a distinct style of embroidery. They create fine embroidery works with stylized motifs and mirrors of the size of pinheads. The Gracia Jats use geometric patterns of embroidery works on the yoke of their long dresses. Sauurashtra also makes embroidered quilts. Kutch prepares quilts with appliqu works and also makes quilts from small multi- colored cloth pieces. Bikaner has a distinct style of embroidery, which is prepared on woolen ordhnis with woolen thread. They stimulate the Bandhani effect.
Mirror work in cloth

ari work

The Bagh and Phulkari embroidery of Punjab is a labor of love. The Phulkari does not have embroidery all over the surface, but it has motifs distributed over the surface revealing parts of the background Phulk material. The phulkaris are of three types: one carries stylized motifs of flowers, fruits and birds, the other carries folk motifs and the third one sports stylized Haveli gateways.

The hill areas of Himachal Pradesh produce a double-sided embroidery known as Chamba Rumal. This may be of the simple folk type or the classical form, which has simplified versions of miniature paintings of Pahari.

Bihar has a rich variety of embroidery works. The Akshida is famous here and it has embroidery work throughout the whole surface like the Bagh. Appliqu work of Orissa is prepared in Pipli, near Puri known for the Jagannath Temple. Here special canopies, fans, umbrellas, etc used in the famous Rath Yatra Festival are made. The Kasuti embroidery of Karnataka is a stylized form with stitches based on the texture of the fabric. Negi, Gavanti and the Menthi are the three different types of stitches used. Bead Works Transparent and semi-transparent beads are used to produce a remarkable line of embroidery. This craft developed in India in the 19th century because of the influence of the European traders. They bought beads as articles of trade. Unlike other places where the beads are stitched on cloth to form a pattern, here they are used with no backing material at all. A large number of different beads and a needle and thread are the only materials with which the craftsmen create chaklas, door hangings, belts, bags, pot covers and a variety of other things.0 The design is woven with thread and needle. The work is done row by row on a tri-bead system, three beads being taken up at each stitch. On the return row, the stitching of the beads moves one position forward, so that a tight network is created. Usually the background is white with the pattern in different colors. The beadwork of Saurashtra and Kutch is very special. This work is not found in any other part of India.

Top Woolen Weaves The shawls of Kashmir are well known throughout the world. They are made of superfine quality wool with intricate designs and excellent workmanship. They are reputed in the international market for several centuries. Kashmir makes a range of shawls like the Kani shawl, the double colored pashima, the soft Santoosh, the majestic woolen shawl, the Dhussa, the men's long shawl with its woven border and the fine Ambli or embroidered shawls.

Kashmir is known for the Kani shawls for several centuries. The Aini- Akbari, written during the reign of Akbar mentions it and says that during the 18th century merchants used to come from all over the world to purchase it. They were worth their weight in gold then. The designs of the shawls are very complicated, that individual craftsmen prepare small pieces of the shawl and then later they were joined together. One of the methods to detect whether a shawl is a Kani shawl or not is to check at its back whether it has been woven as a separate piece or as a whole one. Embroidery is also a fine art of the Kashmiri people. The double-sided shawl called Dorukha is a fine piece, in that, the right side cannot be differentiated from the wrong side. In the Aksi shawl, the design is produced on one side by splitting the warp threads into half, leaving the other side plain or embroidered with another pattern. The Santoosh woolen shawls are made from special wool, which is taken from the underside of the wild Pashima goats, which are found at high altitudes of the Kashmiri hills. The wool is first collected, sorted and then spun by hand by experts and then woven. The finished product is light and extremely warm. The Himalayan region also produces many other varieties of shawls and tweeds for local usage. The shawls carry motifs inspired by the Buddhist traditions, the swastika, etc.

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India textiles Indian textiles are as diverse as its culture. It is a result of centuries of a complex yet colourful juxtaposition of cultural influences, climate conditions, geographical factors and trade. With their sheer beauty, colour and artistry, they have woven their way to win the hearts of both royalty and the common people across the country. And with the wealth of knowledge and skills passed down from one generation of master craftsmen to the next, it will continue to do so for a long long time to come.

Vibrant variety of Indian Textiles Stretched along the length and breadth of the country, every region has its own design, motif and characteristic fabric that weaves its history. Which is why there are hundreds of different textiles in India. While white is the predominant colour in Bengal (inj the eastern part of India) and Kerala (in the south) , the desert belt, stretching from Kutch and Kathiawar in Gujarat to Rajasthan and parts of Haryana, presents an incredible mix of vibrant colourful embroidery, mirror work, quilting and fabric printing. Here's a peek at the myriad range of textiles from across this incredible country called India. Uttar Pradesh One of the most renowned textiles of India - the brocades of Varanasi, come from here. The brocade or 'kinkhwab' (fabric of dreams) is the weaving of pure silk and gold strands to create a lush beautiful fabric. Skilled weavers use a special method of interweaving coloured silk, gold or silver threads to form fascinating designs. A variety of motifs like creepers, flowers, birds, animals, architecture and human forms could be incorporated into a single design. The delicate Chikan work embroidery of Uttar Pardesh was originally done on sarees unlike today where it has been adapted for linen, table-mats, napkins, etc. Gujarat and Kutch are known for their mirror work embroidery in which tiny pieces of mirror are fixed to the fabric using herringbone and satin. It is popular for its rich and vibrant colours. Maharashtra From the Maharashtrian town of Paithan, comes the regal Paithani. A Paithani takes months to weave and with a normal salary many more months than that to buy one. Which is why it was owned mostly by royal households. Once bought, the Paithani is treated as an heirloom for generations to come. Motifs of parrots, peacocks and flowers are very popular in Paithani design. Orissa Ikat is a type of weaving where the warp, weft or both are tie-dyed before weaving to create designs on the finished fabric. Orissa, in eastern India, is home to one of the most famous Ikat traditions called the double Patan Patola. These silk fabrics are double Ikat. While the single Ikat from Rajkot is more affordable, it is the double Ikat that is regarded as a masterpice. In fact the technique and process to make it has to be so precise, that, a sari length takes two men about seven months to complete.

Tamil Nadu Named after the town of Kanchipuram in south India, comes the famous temple sari called the Kanchipuram. It is the dream of every bride to dress up in one on her wedding day. every since it was first woven around 400 years ago, this vibrantly coloured sari, with checks in silk yarn or gold threads, has always been a favorite. Kashmir Kashmir is famous for its very fine and delicate embroidery work. Neatly embroidered shawls on pashmina or shahtoosh are treasured by many. Chain stitched embroidery is done on woolen Namdas which are spread on the floor or used as a covering on beds. These are stylized and exquisitely embroidered. The famous Jamawar shawls of Kashmir are embroidered so fine that they are reversible. Making these fine shawls is no easy task, which is why very few are made every year. In fact, the few remaining ones are treasured as family heirlooms and antiques. West Bengal Beluchari textiles come from the town of Baluchar in Bengal. It was during 1704 that the first Baluchari weaving took place. At one stage no gold or silver threads were used in the making of the fabric except the pure mulberry silk. The unique characteristic of this fabric is the white outlining of motifs like animals, vegetation and other figurative patterns. A special mention must be made of the soft silk sarees of Murshidabad in West Bengal. Some of these sarees have intricate designs using gold or silver threads woven into the border and pallu. Andhra Pradesh It is called the Land Of head-woven Fabrics. And some of the most beautiful sarees come from the looms of Pochampalli, Venkatagiri, Gadwal, Narayanpet, Dharmavaram and other regions of this state. They are named after the places of their origin. The Pochampalli textiles are made using the tie and dye technique. Different coloured yarns are woven to from exquisite geometrical designs. Pochampalli sarees and dress materials are available in both cotton and silk. Punjab In nearly every part of India, we find embroidered fabrics using a variety of techniques and designs. For example, the Phulkari or the Bagh embroidery work of Punjab is done mainly indarning stitch. The whole woven fabric is covered with embroidery using a variety of geometric designs and motifs from nature.

Overview of Sari Textiles

Below is an overview of what I currently know about sari textiles and procedures involved in decorating them. This set of notes is merely a bare surface knowledge, giving a general impression of some of the more prominent Indian textile decoration methods, but it is hopefully useful for a new comer to this area, which is my intent. I wrote all the descriptions and shot all of the pictures with saris in my collection, sources for more

information are listed below. Please contact me ( before reprinting this page; I like to know where my work goes.

Ikat Sari
This sari is all ikat. Ikat is a technique whereby either the warp or weft threads are resisted and dyed before they are woven. This technique produces the slightly drippy, fuzzy or wavy pattern you see here, a result of the human who is weaving being unable to line up the resisted fibers absolutely perfectly. The Ajanta Caves show pictures that suggest this technique dating from ~600-800 AD. In this example, all ikat is done with weft threads, giving it a "horizontally drippy" direction. The pallav is at the top of the picture to the left, the orange ground with purple stripes with yellow diamonds. The green dashed diamonds over leaves and flowers is the body of the sari. I tend to think

of this sort of motif as very Southern, but couldn't tell you why. I guess because it's flowers, and geometric stuff, with none of the Islamic influences. Absolutely all of the ikat on this comes from a weftresist, thus why it's "drippy" in the shorter direction selvedge to selvedge. I thought it's pretty neat how all the motifs are chosen in such a way that this enhances them.

Ikat and Patola Dupatta

This is my new baby. (Hey, some people get excited about cars; fabrics take up much less space...) It's a comb ikat and patola. "Patola", in my understanding, is a term used when a combination of warp and weft ikat are c make a single form. The image on the left is the ikat section. The horizontal row of flowers in that image is w the vertical rows are weft ikat. Notice the difference in the direction of the drippiness... :) The image on the ri patola. Notice that the patola is fuzzy in both the vertical and horizontal sections. The ikat image is fuzzy in b directions - the flowers on the bottom were part of the warp, while the flowers in columns above are from the they are crisply linear in one direction at any time. This one really has my heart. The flowers are about the siz thumb. The boxes are about an inch/inch and a half.

Ikat and Zari Sari

This is an example of ikat combined with zari (woven gold threads). Both warp and weft ikat have been used separately at different points, to make a border and to decorate the pallav (the fancy bit at one end). For more information on zari techniques... read on.

Zari Techniques

Zari is generally translated as any process of embellishin with metallic threads. Most particularly, zari usually des weaving gold, or other metallic threads into the textile at Zari threads can be incorporated as part of the regular wa for a solid striped pattern, or it can be used as a "supplem warp or weft, which incorporates a more complex pattern usually described as "brocaded". The sari to the left is a g with a dark green border, ornamented by red and sari stri both supplementary warp and supplementary weft techni To talk about supplementary threads, I've chosen pictures of a sari I purchased in Bangalore India. It's a Kanchipuram wedding sari, named for the area in which it was woven. It's a hand woven work, with supplementary warp and weft designs. It's particularly noteworthy for being "double color" or "split" the warp threads are alternating dark red and black, so

that the angle of the sari shows either a red, black or red/black color.

Supplementary Weft
A supplementary weft technique involves the use of at least one extra shuttle, holding the weft thread. The shuttle is then passed under and over selected rows of warp thread to create a pattern. In hand weaving, to conserve thread, the shuttle direction is reversed at the end of the pattern and used for the next row, creating a loop at each side of the pattern. Machines are not generally so precise. The shuttle may be guided entirely by hand. However, to assist in weaving speed and accuracy, extra heddles may be added to manipulate warp threads according to the pattern. Manipulating threads by hand takes time, adding heddles increases the complexity and the cost of loom

machinery. Supplementary weft patterns on saris are usually either floating motifs in the large body of the sari, or they are a solid pattern, generally across the pallav. Supplementary thread patterns are usually visible from the front as a series of gold boxes, that are made of threads running the weft direction. The image to the left is a large view of the supplementary weft pallav of my Karnataka Wedding Sari. The image to the right is a detail of the same sari, showing the "grid" of supplementary weft gold threads. In both pictures, the weft goes horizontally.

Supplementary Warp
A supplementary warp technique, involves adding extra threads to the warp of the loom, meaning that they have to be

incorporated at loom-setup, rather than during weaving (as is the case with weftthreads). From hence comes the term "warping the loom". Supplementary warp threads are manipulated independently of the regular "ground" fabric, so that they can form their own pattern. This manipulation is incorporated by the use of heddles devices used to raise and lower a given set of threads above and below the weft weaving area, so the warp threads will go under and over the weft threads. The complexity of the pattern dictates the complexity of the loom setup and the number of heddles required. A different heddle is needed to raise or lower each row or section in a pattern. The complexity in this type of weaving rests largely in planning the pattern and organizing the loom.

Drawn Thread Looms

Drawn thread looms provide an alternative to the more m heddle system. Instead of using heddles, the threads of a attached to strings, secured to pegs above the loom. Thes are tied into bundles, depending on what sequences of th to be raised or lowered. The bundle of strings is pulled u raise a set of warp threads, or returned to its original pos lower them. This more primitive form of weaving is infin manpower consuming, but far less technically complex. drawn thread looms require two operators - one to raise a threads, and a second to do the actual weaving.

Rear of Supplementary Threads

The reverse side of many of today's supplementary-threa fabrics show long patches of unanchored threads. Not all supplementary fabrics have these qualities, there are a nu ways to minimize this thread waste, but it's an easy thing for. See left. The warp or weft threads form these loops b below the fabric, until it's part of the pattern involves tha Since it isn't seen in normal wear, it doesn't need to be ta or secured in any way.

Mughal Design
It's difficult to trace many specific designs through the various times and regions of India. Even modern textiles have a definite regional flavor. The two zari saris above have been what I would call "Southern" they feature elements like peacocks, flowers and geometrical shapes. All of which are preMughal invasion elements. The invasion of Islamic culture, most

evident in the North, brought a lot of new motifs. The concept of filling a first design with a second motif appears most often in Islamicinfluenced designs. The Mughal Dynasties also raised the bar for ornamentation and technical detail exceedingly delicate vines and flowers and highly embellished motifs seem more "Mughal" or "Northern" to me. The Islamic invasion did not fully cover India until the very end of our period 1565. This is the point when the development of Mughal miniatures and other forms of Islamic influenced art most truly begins to flourish. The sari to each side of this paragraph shows what I would call a "Mughal pattern". The left is a view of the pallav and body. The right is a view of a detail of the border. Mughal sari designs are the easiest patterns to

find in the United States. These intricate designs seem to appeal more to the Western mind.

This is an entirely non-woven technique, which uses resist methods to pattern the fabric. Resist meaning that something is done to the fabric before it is dyed to make sure that some areas do not absorb the color of the dye bath. In this case, the fabric is drawn into tiny points, which are then wrapped tightly with thin thread. These tiny points are marked on the fabric to produce a pattern made of dots. When the fabric has been dyed, the thread is then removed, forming a pattern of little white circles. In this case, some segments have then been "spot dyed", dyed by applying a little bit of dye to the small sections of textile, in order to produce yellow

dots as well as white dots. This probably occurred after the textile was dyed. The Ajanta cave paintings (600-800 AD) show textiles strongly similar to this type of technique. In those cases, the dots are generally an even spotted pattern. Other sources show circles. Fustat textiles (12001400AD) show block prints that clearly imitate the bandhani technique, using more complicated patterns.

Block Printing

Ah... the subject nearest and dearest to my heart... for more info on block printing, see my block printing info try to keep this page a little less technical!!

Block printing is any technique whereby "stuff" was put on a patterned block and the block was pressed onto product. Both books and saris can be "block printed". In my experience, the "stuff" printed on a textile is one things - paint, dye, mordant or resist. Paint sits on top of a fabric, whereas dye bonds to the fibers of the fabric has a noticeable texture. Both paint and dye are known fabric-decorating techniques in period, but you'd have case for paint printing (as opposed to hand painting) and for paint printing on wearable textiles. Most of the b read suggest that the dye may not have been printed on, the mordant may have been printed on. The mordant metallic substance, and is used to enhance the chemical reaction of the dye bonding to the fabric fibers. It's ha where a mordant or a dye was made into a paste or printed on the textile, in either case, we can see cases (par the case of non-blue colors) of a color print, where the "stuff on the block was what became the colored part o "Resist block printing" is any form of block printing using a resist as opposed to a paint or a dye. Resists, suc wax or even tapioca pudding, stick to the fabric and *prevent* color when the fabric is later soaked in a dye b just yammer your ear off about this technique!

Khadi Dupatta

Khadi is modern home-industry cotton. It starts rough, but gets soft wi washings. It's supposedly very abuse-proof, lasting for a very long tim trend in Indian manufacturing started by Gandhi, but certainly is a rou home textile that I can't see as inappropriate to any time or place, since primitive techniques of hand spinning and weaving. Check out this site for more info. The technique used to decorate it is "block printing", a process near an my heart. :) It's dye-printed, meaning the black and red was stamped d the cloth, rather than resist-printed, where a substance was stamped on to prevent a dye from staining that section of fabric. If you flip the sha print has not permeated the other side, that's an easy way to figure out how it was done. It took two different b two different stamping rounds to get the black and the red on the textile. In some places, the human factor can they do not line up perfectly. These are still available in a variety of colors. They were a certain Pennsic pick for me, since they are simple seem nigh-indestructible!

Vintage Block-Print Sari

This is a chiffon vintage sari with a very traditional bloc design. I can see it is a hand block print, because the colo line up exactly, and there are edges to the pattern where were aligned. The term "vintage" is worth noting. "Vinta very old, not "very period". It usually describes somethin the vicinity of 50 years ago, and held by a private collect are usually very attractive, collectible saris, quite often in condition. But they are old, and not necessarily up to the regular wear. Nor do they say anything about the historic their techniques or patterns. They *may* be historical, b

to know what you are looking for. The difference of 50 y between the manufacture of these textiles and now is far than the difference of 350 years between the end of the S and the vintage sari era. The English colonization of Ind great impact in the time in between.


Embroidery can be really hard to trace down as a period technique. I'm working on it, but there's a lot more re be done in this area. It's quite likely, and even probable, that people did embroidery, and a couple of trusted fr assured me of seeing extant textile in books from the Calico Museum and the book "Zardozi: Glittering Gold Embroidery". Of note, modernly, there's a couple of different techniques worth talking about.


Tribal embroidery generally features bright colors and simple m are often free hand, with no signs of being marked, or necessari symmetrical. They are usually done with colored thread, and th stitches, subject matter, and layout define the tribes who produc Tribal research is generally exceedingly difficult, as the tribes i India were not usually literate, and historic writings of foreign o are not often seen translated into English. This is about the sum what I know about tribal embroidery. I'm an urban temple girl, The image to the left is a wall hanging of what I would call a ba design.

Shisha Mirror
Shisha mirror embroidery is the process of attaching tiny mirrors to a textile, usually in combination with other types of tribal stitches. I would definitely call it a tribal technique. Folks I trust I have told me that primitive shisha embroidery is period, according to extant samples. The image at right shows shisha mirrors attached to a wool shawl.

Zardozi Embroidery

Zardozi is the process if attaching various types of gold thread to a piece of fabric. It includes chain stitching gold thread, attaching gold beads and sequins, couching on thick gold threads and twists, and sewing on a variety of gold coils, called "purl" or "bullion". Silver and copper metals are also used. I'm told this is an Islamic inspired technique, used by the end of our period. I'm still awaiting the documentation (any day now, coming by airmail!). I would call this a courtly art, rather than a tribal motif. I rarely see t combined. The pictures to either side of this note come from a zardozi shawl t last year at Pennsic. They show a variety of silver metal techniques on a thin c shawl. For information (and documentation!) on zardozi techniques, come to my gold thread embroidery clas Boredom War in May, we'll be doing a hands-on workshop