The modern-day Ikat saree has gone through many innovations but you can't mistake that distinct pattern despite contemporary styling
The unique ‘beautiful blurriness’ of the Ikat saree is what makes it so sought after.
The Ikat saree is truly exceptional – the designs are identical on both sides, a result of the process by which it is created. The art of Ikat is much like Bandhini, where the patterns are created through the resist-dyeing method. The only difference in Ikat is that the restraining threads are tied directly on to the yarn, not the woven fabric. Once the threads or ‘resists’ are opened, the rewards are beautiful fluid designs. Since it’s difficult to line up the yarns perfectly for dyeing (possible in the fabric), there is a characteristic blurriness that’s part and parcel of the Ikat saree. It is this ‘imperfection’ that gives the Ikat its unique appeal.
Indonesia, where the origins of Ikat lie, is still home to several artisans skilled in this unique dyeing method. In fact, there’s a word in Malay ‘mengikat’ which means “to tie” – clearly indicating Ikat was a part of that culture. But perhaps due to trade links, Ikat flourished in Patan in Gujarat and parts of Orissa and Telengana from ancient times. Since then, local and regional influences have given the Ikat saree a unique pride of place in the sartorial canvas of sarees in India.
Given the process of yarn dyeing, it is an organic fallout that the designs be bold and vibrant, geometric or abstract patterns. Sometimes, there may be repeat bindings on the yarns to create a more complex pattern.