IKATS AND SILK VELVETS
The first thing to say is that ikat is a weave not a print. The word "ikat" comes from the Malay word "to bind". Ikat is a way of weaving that uses a resist dyeing process similar to tie-dye on either the warp or weft, or sometimes the warp and the weft, before the threads are woven to create a pattern or design. Ikats can be found from Central Asia, to Malaysia, to South America - unusually the technique is pretty much the same in all these places.
Clothes and wall hangings made of sumptous ikats became status symbols in 19th century Central Asia, when some spectacular textiles were created. Unfortunately, during the Soviet period when the countries in which Central Asian ikats were produced were part of the USSR, anything showing social status was suppressed and ikat weaving went into sharp decline. A revival began in the 1970's and since the fall of the Soviet Union there has been a huge revival of this wonderful craft and a great resurgence of interest in it. Susan Deliss believes passionately in supporting this historic craftsmanship.