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Craft type: Weaving
Weaving is a method of textile production in which two distinct sets of yarns or threads are interlaced at right angles to form a fabric or cloth. Other methods are knitting, crocheting, felting, and braiding or plaiting. The longitudinal threads are called the warp and the lateral threads are the weft or filling. The method in which these threads are inter-woven affects the characteristics of the cloth.
Cloth is usually woven on a loom, a device that holds the warp threads in place while filling threads are woven through them. A fabric band which meets this definition of cloth can also be made using other methods, including tablet weaving, back strap loom, or other techniques without looms.
The traditional Kutch weaving is a 600-year-old tradition. It is done by an extra-weft weaving technique, where a weft yarn is used in the warp of the loom. The weaving with extra weft creates the distinctive designs with geometric patterns. The characteristic, intricately handwoven motifs form the identity of the Kutch weaving.
Shawls are woven with motifs, which have been passed down through generations of artisan communities. They were originally made from local desi wools and were traditionally worn as veils. Artisans continue to design and produce shawls for the local market as their shawls are widely worn throughout Kutch in the winter months. Over the years, the weavers spread out in large clusters and smaller pockets throughout Kutch.
Rajan Vankar is a young master weaver in the 4th generation from the rural Kutch region of India. The 21 year old artist is fully dedicated to his craft of traditional Kutch weaving, while sharing the story and culture with the world. “When I was a child, at the age of 10, I had a dream – to introduce my weaving all over the world. In my heart, I dreamed about going abroad, to show my weavings and to present myself, and to represent, maintain and preserve my traditions.” He has been learning and practicing the art of weaving since the age of nine, when his father started to teach him how to weave. In the same year he went to the capital New Delhi for the first time. Travel, work, weaving and family business were all new to him. After a 15 days trip, he came back to the village and started to learn the process. Since then, he has been learning and practicing weaving, dying and how to manage the family business on the side.
“When I was ten, eleven, twelve years old, many visitors were coming to our village and family workshop to view the looms. In my family no one understands or speaks English very well, so I wanted to change that matter. I realized there are some foreign visitors in our workshop and a guide who translated between my father and the visitors. I was watching them and the scene was hurting me, because they did not know what the guide told the visitors.” Rajan taught himself English. It was not included in the curriculum of his regional school, but as he puts it, “If I can speak English, I can tell the truth. I can tell my own stories. I can express my love about my weaving, what we are doing, how we preserve them. Now I have worked with one designer from Japan for two years and I learned a little Japanese. I speak little Russian, little Turkish. And now I’m starting to learn Arabic.”
Many young people choose to not go in their parents’ footsteps and continue the craft traditions. When asked if he at any point had second thoughts about his path as a weaver growing up, he reveals it could also have come differently“That’s the thing; my family never expected that I would pass the exam when I completed my 10th class studies, because I was always working on my weaving and traveling for shows in India. But I passed the exam and my family said that I can continue. One half of me wants to join university, while the other half thought about how I was born in this traditional weaving family.” Rajan decided to go to university to study computer engineering. Two and half years into his studies, 80 percent of his focus was always with the weaving. Thus, he discontinued the computer engineering studies and dedicated himself to the Kutch weaving. “I felt that I was born for weaving and I think weaving has selected me. There are so many people in my community. This is the art practiced by my community, in my village and in my entire region.”
But, Rajan points out, if he would only weave, while nobody knew his work, it would not be enough to keep it up. “I have to maintain the weaving, the dying, telling the story, managing the everyday business and travel to the cities. That makes the artist in a sense, and makes the difference to the others. I feel that the weaving selected me to present my family traditions all over the world.”
Traditional Kutch Weaving
The traditional Kutch weaving is a 600 years old tradition and practiced by Rajan’s family since 150 years. The weaving is done by an extra-weft weaving technique, where a weft yarn is used in the warp of the loom. The weaving with extra weft creates the distinctive designs with geometric patterns. The characteristic, intricately handwoven motifs form the identity of the Kutch weaving. The design and materials have developed and changed with time, but the motives stay the same.
In the 1950s, Rajan’s grandfather was weaving traditional Dahbda blankets. The Rabari community in the Kutch region are cattle herders. They provided sheep wool to the Vankar family and Rajan’s grandfather would in return weave the Dahbda blankets for the Rabari community. At that time, the Dahbda was a much demanded, typical product in the region, and a system of circulation of material and products was in place between the communities. In 1980’s the Vankar family started to make stoles in acrylic wool. In 2000, the big change was Australian merino wool. Since then, the family has innovated their weaving with many types of yarns, such as handspun tussar silk and organic cotton.
Rajan uses primarily handspun fibers such as sheep’s wool, tussar silk and cotton. For the fine merino yarn, the raw wool is imported from Australia to Ludhiana in the Punjab region in northern India, where the mills of the pure fine wool are located. Rajan’s family sources their wool there since four decades. Additionally, he uses local desi wool. The yarns are dyed with natural and azo-free dyes.
Rajan mainly makes shawls and stoles, but also handwoven bedspreads. The desi sheep wool is handspun by his grandmother and older women of the Rabari community. He points out that it requires extraordinary skill and understanding about the yarn and how to spin fiber to thread. Rajan has taken to Instagram to share the process and tradition that goes into the family’s products. In stories and videos he explains each part of Kutch weaving, the symbolic meaning of the motifs, and how the material is treated from spinning and dying to finished shawl.
Creativity and tradition in the design process
Rajan and his father both weave the same motifs, but have developed different styles and different color palettes. Rajan elaborates on his design process. “We think our designs in our mind. Then we create by our heart and we do the design by our hand. We do not use any paper or something like that to weave the design. When I am making a new design, I am fully focused on that. Sometimes I take fifteen days or one month to think about the new design. Because I want to make a marketable design. If I don’t make a marketable design, there’s no meaning for my days. And I take my full time, before I start the weaving.”
The weaving features many intricately handwoven designs. Rajan combines his weaving with needle work and embroidery, with shibori and clamp dye. He says, sometimes a stole takes three days to weave, some pieces take five days or one day to complete. One day is needed to make the tassels at the end of the stole. One day is needed for washing the product in a traditional technique. Then it is pressed and shipped to the client.
Some designs combine weaving and mirror work. The mirror work is done by Rajan’s mother and other women in the surrounding communities. Rajan is working with 20-25 women from nearby villages who make handmade mirror work. After the weaving, the mirrors are placed in tiny spots left open in the fabric. “If I take five days for weaving one stole, the women normally need three days to accomplish the mirror work. It depends on the design. Some shawls take 15 days to complete, others take one month to complete with the entire weaving, mirror work and the finishing by tassels.”
In India, Rajan and his family are exhibiting in New Delhi, Calcutta, Bangalore, Bombay at selected shows. They sell to retailers, sometimes direct to consumer, and take wholesale orders. Rajan also sells direct to costumers internationally and set up his own shop on Etsy.
There is competition from machine-made fabrics, some people try to copy the weaving. But Rajan says, “Some try to copy but they don’t get this kind of look, it is the power of our culture. They can’t match our quality, never. But it is our responsibility to protect our designs, protect our secrets. Some things I keep secret while I am producing my new designs. After one or two years, once they are on the market and many other weavers know about them, I already earn a good income from that design. We create significant textiles which are only made by my family, so we don’t have to worry because no one can make this kind of piece.”
Striving towards excellence in his craftsmanship is part of the role as a master art. “It is my responsibility to take my craft to a higher level, to the next level. To recognize my family and recognize myself in this entire world. And I feel that it is a big thing for me, because I don’t have too many other things or resources. I belong to a small village but I feel proud to have connections. I’m hoping that I am able to travel to Europe or the U.S. next year”.
The next generation of artisans
One aspect threatening traditional craft techniques is cheaper, industrial production. But another issue is that many young people would rather choose other professions than to continue with the work of their parents, go into computer science or marketing, something which might offer less hard work for more pay. Rajan has an advice for the future of young artists of his generation, who are 20 years old and ask themselves if they should commit their life to craft.
“If they continue to practice their craft, their crafts are carried on to the next generation. If they choose the computer or marketing, then they lose the culture and their crafts. Once the craft traditions are lost, nobody can revive them again. That’s my thing: When I was a child, when I was teenager, my weaving connected with me, and today I feel that I was born for weaving, weaving selected me, to play with the weaving, to play with the loom, and express my love about weaving and share it with the entire world. I feel proud that through my weaving, I am able to travel internationally, to work with international designers, to teach people from different countries, to speak to people like you. And today I speak English because for my craft, if I didn’t, my craft and I would not have a chance to meet you.”
To shape a next generation of artisans it not only takes the people, Rajan says, but they have to feel a passion for their crafts and their traditions. “If they only follow the traditions of their ancestors forcefully, things aren’t going to work out. They have to learn from their elders and respect them, and they need to have a creative vision; a creative vision in their mind and heart to make something different from the other artists and the rest of the world, to make the craft and culture more renowned.”
Rajan believes two skills are especially important for the next generation of artisans. “If they learn how to use the computer and to speak English, that will help them to make connections and to generate sales of their crafts, and that will change their lives. Learning those things, I think is the best way to represent and maintain their traditions. I didn’t know the proper grammar, but I speak and people understand. If I have passion for my weaving and a creative vision, then I am able to do all of those things that follow. To do something different than others, it takes time, passion and creative vision.”
Preserving and sharing traditions with a global audience
Rajan Vankar’s childhood vision as a boy in the small village of Sarli has started to come true, and he has already had the opportunity to show his work on an international stage. At 17 years old, his dream of international exposure was becoming reality when was selected for a craft show in Thailand, but since he did not have a passport at the time it had to pass. Last year he was finally selected among the 200 artists from 80 countries to participate in the International Craft Festival in Uzbekistan. “I feel grateful to my ancestors who preserved our weaving traditions. And I am thankful to my father, who taught me about my weaving and guided me when I was a child. I fulfilled one of my dreams and went to Uzbekistan to take part in a very beautiful programme. I learned about other artists and cultures and built new relationships with other communities.”
“I inherited this beautiful tradition of weaving, of colors, designs from my father and my ancestors. Now it’s my responsibility to make a business, to make a good product, to make a good name in this world. And then, to take it forward to the next generation, so that they know that this is the regime from our family, how they have done it in the past.”
Khadi is a hand-spun and hand-woven fabric from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan mainly made out of cotton. This is an artisanal heritage handloom textile,made entirely in hand crafted processes—from spinning the threads on a charkha (spinning wheel) to weaving on handloom.
The cloth is usually woven from cotton and may also include silk, or wool. Khadi is sometimes treated with starch to give it a stiffer texture.
Bengal weavers have been practicing this craft of weaving very fine count Khadi yarn of hand-spun cotton and silk for centuries. Mahatma Gandhi was a strong proponent of handicrafts, in particular the handloom Khadi. The technique and associated ideology was promoted by Gandhi to inspire self-reliance of the people, and support ancient skills and traditional crafts.
Anuprerna is an artisanal heritage textile company in West Bengal, the easternmost state of India, bordering Bangladesh—the neighbouring country forming the other half of the Bengal region. Anuprerna works closely with nearly 300 artisans to produce handloom textiles in indigenous weaving techniques and materials of the region. This includes fine muslin Khadi and Jamdani in different varieties of wild and cultivated silks and cotton. At the core of Anuprerna lies long term, personal relationships with the artisans, some cultivated over nearly 40 years, for continuous & consistent innovations on East India’s traditional crafts to create beautiful textiles. A conversation with Amit Singha.
The name, Anuprerna, comes from theBengali word for inspiration. Amit Singha—who is heading the company in the second generation after it was founded by his father Anup Kumar Singha in the early 80ies—explains the mission: “Anuprerna wants to be the ‘source of inspiration’ to earn love and respect for East India’s textile and craft, use of natural and sustainable fabrics and share the tradition with the world. We strive to create a recognition for East India’s textiles to bestow value onto ordinary lives of the artisans with extraordinary skills. Once the value is recognised globally, it should translate into higher wages for weavers and inspire millions of rural-based livelihoods.”
The Craft Culture of Bengal
The Bengal region, today consisting of the Indian state of West Bengal in the West, and Bangladesh in the East, has a rich and enduring tradition of folk art and craftsmanship. The finest cottons were traded already in the first and second centuries, and the muslin of Dhaka, today in Bangladesh, was legendary for the world’s finest muslin, sought after already by the Roman Empire, and traded all over the world in the 17th and 18th centuries. Under British colonial rule, this craftsmanship was brutally suppressed to strengthen the British market and textiles. As a result, the knowledge and craftsmanship was almost lost during two centuries.
Mahatma Gandhi was a strong proponent of handicrafts, in particular the handloom Khadi, a fabric made entirely in hand crafted processes—from spinning the threads on a charkha to weaving on handloom. Bengal weavers have been practicing this craft of weaving very fine count Khadi yarn of handspun cotton and silk for centuries. The technique and associated ideology was promoted by Gandhi to inspire self-reliance of the people, and support ancient skills and traditional crafts.
Jamdani is considered to be one of finest varieties of handwoven muslin made in a supplementary weft technique of weaving. Anuprerna is working with around 100+ Jamdani weavers scattered across four villages. The name, Jamdani, is of Persian origin and comes from the word jam meaning flower and dani meaning vase, descriptive of the floral motifs. The weaving is time-consuming and labor-intensive because of the richness of its motifs, which are created directly on the hand loom using the discontinuous weft technique.
The region is a natural habitat to many varieties of wild silk such as Matka, Tussar and Ketya Silk. Those silks are harvested and produced in a way that lets the moths mature before boiling the cocoons to extract the fiber, a process also known as peace silk.
Since its inception in 1983, Anuprerna has traded indigenous weaves from rural artisans to a primarily domestic Indian market. The network of artisans consists of 28 small artisan clusters, each with their own specialization in a specific craft technique. Apart from the typical Bengal crafts, this includes clusters working with block printing and Shibori dyeing as well.
Future of Handloom
Amit Singha believes in a sustainable, fair future for handloom textiles. He splits his time between the dynamic city of Bangalore with his wife, adopted dog and a passion for music, and his native West Bengal, where Anuprernas operations take place and the artisans are based. Bangalore is well known for its tech industry and from here Amit is building the online platform of Anuprerna, to provide an innovative, transparent way of sharing the story of Anuprerna’s artisans and crafts.
Two years ago, he stepped into the artisanal textile business founded by his father. “Post my education as an engineer & MBA graduate and with work experience of 3+ years in the field of finance & strategy, I dedicate myself to this venture with a purpose to preserve & revive those traditions & crafts.” Amit’s commitment to the craft heritage comes from growing up around weavers and fabrics. He says,“The business has been pioneered and driven by my father in 1983. Inspired by the artisan community around, it started out of a small village in the Burdwan district of West Bengal, India. I’ve grown up seeing and speaking to weavers who used to be regular visitors at our place. My father has been working closely with the weaver’s community and connecting the crafts primarily to domestic consumers through small retail stores across India. Eventually with that generation of weavers, weaving as a profession ceased to exist in the surrounding village areas.”
The demand for Khadi handloom fabric has crumpled in recent years, “This is due to different factors, but especially the increasing prices of handloom while challenged by more and more machine-made fabrics on the market, and many customers not realizing the value of handmade and thus not willing to pay the higher price” says Amit. He is now focusing on exploring different and new markets internationally, establishing a wider audience for their weaves beyond India’s borders, supplying fashion and interior designers–especially small to medium-sized, ethically and sustainably minded labels. Anuprerna is now working on the first collaboration with the Finnish textile designer Maria Tolvanen, melting Bengal heritage with Scandinavian craft and design. The collection is planned to launch in 2021 and is developed with natural dyes and hand painted techniques. “In the next few years, we want to create and innovate new textiles in line with contemporary fashion, leveraging Bengal’s crafts and artisans’ skill sets. In the future, we want to build and share a sustainable business model with other craftsmen across India and make it India a sourcing hub of natural, authentic and sustainable textiles for global fashion brands.”
The artisan communities behind Anuprerna
At present, Anuprerna works with close to 300 artisans from multiple clusters across West Bengal. Different clusters are equipped with different weaving expertise. Most artisans are located in a remote village distant from city life. Road connectivity has been improved over the years but there is still a lack of rail connectivity. To pursue other opportunities, a person from the community needs to shift to an urban location. Amit explains the benefit of home-based workshops “These artisans live in the village community where they are born and brought up, enjoying an inclusive society in the time of festivals, functions and other ceremonies. That’s why all of them have built home workshops on their own.”
West Bengal has multiple festivals happening throughout the year, and the culture is described by locals with “Baro masher tero parban” (thirteen festivals in twelve months). The artisans are embedded in this cultural rhythm of festivities with their friends and family.
The weaving workshops are usually a family-oriented homeworker environment where the men are responsible for weaving and the women involved in pre-weaving activity. Amit adds, “There are few expert women weavers too, skilled in techniques like Jamdani. It wouldn’t be difficult for women to do the weaving activity if men started taking responsibility for household chores.”
Ethical standards in artisan business
When asked about how to ensure the ethical work conditions of the weavers, Amit says they are not able to carry the cost of conventional certification, which is common for small-scale and distributed artisan businesses. However, they are aligning themselves with the ethical compliance standards of Nest, and in the case a brand partner needs a certificate and is willing to carry the cost, they don’t mind to go that path. The long term, direct relationships with their weavers enables a transparency that might be even more valuable than a certificate alone. Amit is working hard to uplift their artisan weavers and telling their story. “Weaving wages are fair and sufficient for them to live a healthy life but one thing they always look for is continuous yearlong work as most of them are paid on contract weaving basis.“
The COVID-19 lockdown hit hard on India. The uncertainty brings a difficult situation also to the artisan sector. Amit says they try to support their artisans financially, raising finances and work for those in most hardship. While wholesale is standing still and in lack of new orders and cancelled orders, they focus on building up their own platform online and finding new customers.
Amit wants to foster the artisan community for the generations to come: “These crafts are passed on from generations. The basics of the crafts is easy but mastering the craft for creating intricate designs and patterns needs experience, patience and skills.” Skills and training that needs to be nourished and nurtured. “To keep the craft & tradition alive, we need to incorporate good practices, creating an inspiring & improved livelihood for the betterment of our artisan community. A challenging but important step is to come up with structured training & guidance, to improve the skill sets and empower the artisans to ensure the next generation passionately pursues the tradition as well. One of our near term goals is to educate our existing artisans to create designs more in line with the contemporary market.”
To explain the value of the longstanding partnerships with the weavers, Amit shares a story of one particular artisan, Basudev Singh, “He has been associated with us since the beginning. From the moment he started, he had been learning and growing; he started working with other artisans at his village, eventually trained a team of weavers and set up a small business himself in his village; creating and innovating new textiles on his own and connecting directly to buyers and brands. It brings me immense joy to see someone become self-sufficient and help grow the community around him. We still work together and have a lot of respect for each other.”
Production by masses, not mass production
The Indian handloom industry is built upon Mahatma Gandhi’s model of decentralization which proposes a “Production by masses” as opposed to “Mass production”. Amit describes the benefit of handloom, “Primary crafts that we work with are hand spun & hand woven Khadi & Jamdani. Both these crafts have positive impacts on the weaving community & weavers—for every 1 person that is needed to run a yarn spinning machine, 50 jobs are created by hand spinning, and for every 1 person needed to run an automated loom, 10 jobs are created hand weaving.”
Handloom textiles are as such not only amazingly beautiful fabrics, but also an act of decolonization, reclaiming and honoring the craftsmanship of hundreds of years and generations of master weavers.
Anuprerna offers artisanal, handloom fabrics, sarees and scarves both wholesale and to direct-to-consumer in natural fibers such as cotton and indigenous silks. Special requests, designs and collaboration requests are welcome.
The Khasa are strip-woven wool blankets from the Fulani people in West Africa.
Many of the Fulani live a nomadic life. The heavy Khasa blankets serve to protect the cattle herders, or Wodaabe, from the cold in winter and the mosquitos. The weight and the thickness of the blankets are important for this purpose. Typically, after use by the herders, the blankets are sold to traders, repaired and resold throughout West Africa.
The Khasa blanket is made on a double-heddle loom by hereditary male weavers, the Madoube. The cloth is woven in narrow strips, sewn together into the final blanket.
Nanjing Yunjin is an exquisite kind of silk brocade from Nanjing, China. “Yunjin”, meaning “beautiful as clouds at sunset”, is a more than 1500 year old craft incorporating fine materials such as silk, gold and peacock feather yarn.
In the Chinese tradition of weaving Nanjing Yunjin brocade, two craftspeople operate the upper (sorting threads) and lower parts (weaves) of a 4 meter high loom to produce textiles. A team can produce only five centimeters of yunjin per day.
Preserved primarily in Jiangsu province in eastern China, the method comprises more than a hundred procedures, including manufacturing looms, drafting patterns, the creation of jacquard cards for programming weaving patterns, dressing the loom and the many stages of weaving itself.
The sarape is a long blanket-like shawl, often brightly colored and fringed at the ends, worn in Mexico, especially by men. The term sarape is for the rectangular woven blanket, though in more recent years it can also be used to refer to a very soft rectangular blanket with an opening in the middle for one’s head, similar to a poncho called gabán, or jorongo in Mexico.
The traditional Li textile techniques by women of the Li ethnic group on the island of Hainan, China, were recognized by Unesco in 2009 as in Need of Urgent Safeguarding on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Spinning, dyeing, weaving and embroidering are employed to make cotton, hemp and other fibres into clothing and other daily necessities. The techniques involved, including warp ikat, double-face embroidery, and single-face jacquard weaving, are passed down from mothers to daughters from early childhood through verbal instruction and personal demonstration. Li women design the textile patterns using only their imagination and knowledge of traditional styles. In the absence of a written language, these patterns record the history and legends of Li culture as well as aspects of worship, taboos, beliefs, traditions and folkways. The patterns also distinguish the five major spoken dialects of Hainan Island.
Huipil is the most common traditional garment worn by indigenous women from central Mexico to Central America.
It is a loose-fitting tunic, generally made from two or three rectangular pieces of fabric which are then joined together with stitching, ribbons or fabric strips, with an opening for the head and, if the sides are sewn, openings for the arms. Traditional huipils, especially ceremonial ones, are usually made with fabric woven on a backstrap loom and are heavily decorated with designs woven into the fabric, embroidery, ribbons, lace and more. However, some huipils are also made from commercial fabric.
Lengths of the huipil can vary from a short blouse-like garment or long enough to reach the floor. The style of traditional huipils generally indicates the ethnicity and community of the wearer as each have their own methods of creating the fabric and decorations. Some huipils have intricate and meaningful designs. Ceremonial huipils are the most elaborate and are reserved for weddings, burials, women of high rank and even to dress the statues of saints.
Al Sadu is a traditional weaving technique practised by the Bedouin people. The weaving style is characterised by geometric shapes forming distinctive patterns. Traditional colours are black, brown, beige and red. Al Sadu weaving was inscribed on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding in 2011.
Jamdani is a type of very fine woven muslin fabric. The art of Jamdani weaving has been practised in the Bengal region—nowadays Bangladesh and East India—since centuries. The characteristic designs are made in a supplementary weft technique of weaving. The traditional art of Jamdani weaving was included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2013.
The name, Jamdani, is of Persian origin and comes from the word jam meaning flower and dani meaning vase, descriptive of the floral motifs. The weaving is time-consuming and labor-intensive because of the richness of its motifs, which are created directly on the hand loom using the discontinuous weft technique.
Wadmal is an ancient technique from Northern Europe where wool is first woven, then felted until the single threads can barely be distinguished and an even surface is created. It makes a robust, warm, water- and windproof fabric.
Soumak is a tapestry technique of weaving strong and decorative textiles used as rugs and domestic bags. Soumak is a type of flat weave, somewhat resembling but stronger and thicker than kilim, with a smooth front face and a ragged back, where kilim is smooth on both sides. Soumak lacks the slits characteristic of kilim, as it is usually woven with supplementary weft threads as continuous supports.
The technique involves wrapping coloured weft threads over and under the warp threads, adding strength and embroidery-like pattern.
Soumak is also spelled Soumakh, Sumak, Sumac, or Soumac.
Ikat fabric is a dyeing technique used to create a distinct style of textile patterns. Ikat is done by resist dyeing sections of the yarns prior to weaving the fabric.
In ikat the resist is formed by binding individual yarns or bundles of yarns with a tight wrapping applied in the desired pattern. The yarns are then dyed. The bindings may then be altered to create a new pattern and the yarns dyed again with another colour. This process may be repeated multiple times to produce elaborate, multicolored patterns. When the dyeing is finished all the bindings are removed and the yarns are woven into cloth. In other resist-dyeing techniques such as tie-dye and batik the resist is applied to the woven cloth, whereas in ikat the resist is applied to the yarns before they are woven into cloth. Because the surface design is created in the yarns rather than on the finished cloth, in ikat both fabric faces are patterned.
A characteristic of ikat textiles is an apparent “blurriness” to the design. The blurriness is a result of the extreme difficulty the weaver has lining up the dyed yarns so that the pattern comes out perfectly in the finished cloth. The blurriness can be reduced by using finer yarns or by the skill of the craftsperson. Ikats with little blurriness, multiple colours and complicated patterns are more difficult to create and therefore often more expensive. However, the blurriness that is so characteristic of ikat is often prized by textile collectors.
Kente is a type of silk and cotton fabric made of interwoven cloth strips and is native to the Akan tribe in Ghana. Kente is made in Akan lands such as Ashanti Kingdom and by Akans in Ivory Coast. It is also worn by many other groups who have been influenced by Akans. Kente comes from the word kenten, which means basket in Akan dialect Asante. Akans refer to kente as nwentoma, meaning woven cloth.
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