Gado Gado International

Sumba: Ikat Weavings

Posted in Culture and History by gadogadointl on April 2, 2009

by Tyler Keeley

The artisans of Sumba are particularly known for their ikat style of weaving, which uses a resist dyeing process before the threads are woven to create a pattern or design. The process is very labor intensive, and it involves wrapping the warp threads with waxed string or paper. It is then dyed, with the waxed thread acting as a “resist” that prevents the wrapped areas from accepting the dye. Vegetable dyes are still used.

Sumba ikat, stages 1 & 2

Sumba ikat, stages 1 & 2

Most ikat designs involve the use of more than one  color, and the threads must be re-wrapped between each dyeing if the current color is to be preserved.

Sumba ikat, stages 3 & 4

Sumba ikat, stages 3 & 4

Once the dyeing process is complete, the paper or waxed string is removed to reveal the design.

Ikat weaving, stage 5

Ikat weaving, stage 5

These steps all occur before the warp threads are integrated into the loom. The final pattern is often symmetrical, creating a blocky design. Due to the paper or waxed resist thread, there is sometimes a bleeding or tie-dye effect in the fabric. Ikats from Sumba are known for being precisely woven, unlike ikat styles from Japan or Guatemala.

Ikats

Ikats

These beautiful fabrics–as well as others from Bali, West Timor, India, and Nepal–can be found in our showroom in Santa Rosa.

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