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Silk Ikkat Sarees : The Unique Craft

Posted on August 03 2022

From the auspicious land of Lord Jagannath, Odisha is the seat of another unique and beautiful craftwork called Ikkat.  Odisha Ikkat is also known as "Bandhakala" or "Bandha". The name "Bandhakala" or "Bandha" is born out of the way the ikkat is done. Odisha Ikkat is produced through a resist dyeing technique.

This silk art is linked to the Lord Jagannath cult practice which is a tradition in Odisha. Every colour used in the fabric reflects a symbolic concept of the Jagannath cult: the four primary colours used in keeping with this tradition are white, black, yellow, and red, with green added at a rather recent date. These colours are said to denote the past, present, and future, to the Vedas and the Gods. It is also inferred that the Ikkat silk art came into existence by copying the temple architecture which existed much earlier.

It is made through a process of tie-dying the warp and weft threads to create the design on the loom prior to weaving. It is unlike any other ikat woven in the rest of the country because of its design process, which has been called "poetry on the loom". The pattern on the silk fabric evolves through a process of resist dyeing the warp and weft threads before the weaving process starts. This technique is what differentiates Odisha ikkat from other methods in which yarns of various colours are woven first or in which patterns are printed on the fabric.
To create the coloured design, other cloth is affixed to the yarns at specific locations on the loom. The dye is absorbed by the cloth which, when it is removed from the loom, leaves the yarn dyed at the places where it touchs the yarn. Single dyeing leaves the yarn spotted in colour.
For detailed designs are produced through an eight-stage process of tying and dyeing the yarn, it requires a high degree of skill and time. It is also the practice to tie the weft threads and occasionally the warp threads to transfer colour to the untied part. More colours are added by repeating the process of tieing and dyeing on previously coloured parts; in this way, many colours are added to give the fabric a very bright and distinctive shade.

A unique feature in Ikkat is that it depicts the same colourful design motif on both its front and back sides. No additional yarn is required to produce this effect. The designs gradually evolve during the tying and dyeing process according to the imagination of the craftsman, who does not follow any pre-designed pattern but creates the design as he works. This makes every Ikkat saree exclusive and unique to it's aesthetics.

The motifs developed on the Ikkat are generally of birds, various animals, rudraksh beads, geometric designs, dice, temple towers, and pinnacles. The silk fabric made at Nuapatna in the Cuttack district is woven with Ikat yarn as hymns from the Gitagovinda, and this fabric adorns the idols at the Jagannath Temple daily. The Ikat produced by Bhullas from Western Odisha is considered superior in both the use of the fabric and pattern (which include double Ikat) compared to the product from Eastern Odisha.

The process of making a saree of Ikkat by hand takes about seven months and involves two craftsmen, as the production goes through 14 stages of creation.

The silk used for Ikkat is also of the finest quality. Since initially produced in the name of Lord Jagannath and bore a considerable holiness to it, therefore the fabric used is of the best quality. Silk Ikkat sarees are of high demand all across the country.

Dailybuyys works in unison with Odisha Silk Ikkat generational weavers to bring to the customers the finest and most genuine sarees.

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