Ikat is a resist-dyeing technique that uses water repellant cord. It tied to a bundle of yarns before dye bath to produced desired motifs when woven. Cord for ikat is usually made from raffia, palm leaves, or plastic which are tied tightly to cotton or silk yarns. Ikat is a Bahasa Indonesia word that can be translated as “tie” or “bind”. This technique is used by almost all weaving communities across Indonesia.
The process of making motifs in ikat happens before yarns undergo weaving process. A bundle of cotton or silk yarns is tied in precise intervals and width in accordance with the pattern design. This process could be done several times to produce several colours in the pattern. After all the tie and dye processes have been accomplished, all ties are open to reveal stripes on the thread.
Single Ikat process could be done to weft (weft ikat) or warp (warp ikat) yarns. In the weaving process, weft or warp yarns have to be woven precisely one yarn after another in order to reveal the intended motifs. In a double ikat process, both the weft and warp yarns undergo the tie and dye process, consequently, the weaving process demands extra accuracy to achieve precision between weft and warp yarns in order to reveal the motifs. Double ikat in Indonesia can be found in Geringsing cloth made by Bali Aga community in Tenganan Penggeringsingan village in Bali. It’s one in only three communities of the world that practice double ikat, alongside India and Japan.
Almost all weaving community across Indonesia practice ikat technique and each of them has a distinctive Ikat pattern, ranging from abstract, geometric, floral, to full-blown human figure. To name a few of them, Ulos cloth from Toba Highland has panah-panah (arrow-like), hotang (rattan), and flash-like pattern. Weavers in Yogyakarta use ikat in their lurik cloth to produce udan liris (drizzly rain) pattern. In Sengkang Kalimantan, weavers use ikat to produce zig-zag pattern for silk sarong. The motifs of Endek cloth from Bali range from geometric to floral. East Nusa Tenggara ikat is famous for their motifs that range from intricate small designs to large scale human figures. Motifs include floral such as kenari (plants from Canarium genus) flower, people riding a horse, animals such as horse, chicken and gecko.