The term ‘ikat’ is derived from the Malay-Indonesian word ‘mangikat’ that means to bind or knot. It is a yarn resist technique wherein the yarns are tie-dyed, and on weaving a pattern is created on the surface of the fabric. An ikat textile can be identified from the typical hazy patterning on fabric due to the resist dyeing of the yarns prior to weaving.

Ikat can be classified into three categories:

  • Single ikat: There are two kinds of single ikat namely warp ikat and weft ikat. as the name suggests, in warp ikat, the warp yarns are tie-dyed and woven with plain solid coloured weft yarns and similarly and in weft ikat, the weft yarns are tie-dyed and woven with plain warp yarns.
  • double ikat: In double ikat, both warp and weft yarns are tie-dyed according to a  pre-determined pattern and then woven to create clear designs on fabric
  • Combined ikat: In combined ikat, both warp and weft yarns are tie dyed but they are present in selected areas of a textile, to create interesting patterns.

The earliest reference to ikat can be found in the ajanta cave paintings of the 6th century ad. designs similar to ikat are seen on the dresses of the females portrayed in the murals of ajanta. There is a mention of double ikat in the couplets of rani ranakdevi, gujarati literature from 11th century ad as well as in the records of european travelers from 16th century ad.

The main production centres of ikat in India are gujarat, odisha and andhra Pradesh. The ikat of each region known by different names can be identified from the motifs and the patterns achieved on weaving the tie-dyed yarns.

The ikat textiles of India can be classified into three categories on the basis of region as follows:

  • Patola of gujarat
  • Bandhas of odisha
  • Ikat textiles of andhra Pradesh: Telia rumal and Pochampalli