◊ The Ikat weaving process
The essential characteristic of ikat is the dyeing of patterns before the weaving takes place. The patterns are created by means of a resist dyeing process on either the warp or weft twine, or on both. Ikat is an ancient technique used to pattern textiles. We used cotton warp ikat, the technique most common in Indonesia. The ikat process begins with bundles of warp threads being strung up on a frame, close together and properly tightened. Then the pattern is drawn on to them in outline. Bindings that resist dye penetration are applied in locations defined by the motif.
After the bindings required to protect all material that should not be coloured in the first round of dying are in place, the threads are taken off the frame and dipped in a dye bath. After dying, the bindings are cut away. The threads are strung onto the frame again and arranged carefully so that they match exactly. New bindings are put in place for all locations that should not receive colour in the second round of dying. Then the tied threads are taken off the frame again, dipped in the next dye bath – and so on until the desired multicoloured pattern has been created.
The next step is to arrange the warp threads on the loom. The warp threads are attached to two parallel wooden bars or sticks, one of which is either tied to stakes in the ground, or, in its most primitive form, held behind the feet of the weaver, and the other is attached to a belt around the weaver’s waist. These weaving looms are in the span of the weaver’s arms. As a consequence all wider Indonesian ikat textiles consist of two or more panels stitched together along the selvages. As you can see, ikat is an extremely difficult art to master because it requires a great deal of practice and patience. Each ikat is a work of art and will take months up to one and a half year to create.
:: The Ikat patterns ::
The background of the Savu ikat
Savu is a small island in Eastern Indonesia. According to the secret and sacred genealogies of the island, the society was divided into two groups descended from two sisters, Muji Babo and Lou Babo, a long time before the (male) clans were created. The two sisters were given respectively a large and a small bunch of nuts of the areca palm by their older brother, Wunu babo. This Savu had at its origin the classical structure of a matrilineal society where woman together with the (ideally elder) brother were in charge of the social organisation of the group. The names of the two groups were derived from the gift of the areca nut; hubi ae, or ‘large palm blossom’ and hubi iki, or ‘small palm blossom’. The distinction between large and small does not refer to a hierarchical status, or a class, but simply to the birth rank of the sisters.
The pattern on our products is hubi iki.
The Flores ikat
Flores is a big island in Eastern Indonesia. The ikat pattern of our products are from Sikka-district in East Flores. The Sikka people produce very complex fabrics for exchange in marriage. The designs are still closely connected to the patrilineal clans. These textiles are an important manifestation of the complex network of social relationships.