Ikats of Andhra

 The term ikat is from Malay – “Mangikat”meaning to bind, knot or wind.

The quiet town of Puttapakka and Koyyelgudam (Nalgonda district) is  home to Single and double ikats of Andhra, and the Telia Rumal; their stunning and precise geometric patterns conveys the dexterity and experience of the weavers!

The yarns are pre-dyed in both single and double ikats. The reason why double ikats are expensive is that both warp and weft threads are tied and dyed separately (which calls for precision) and precision in weaving to match the designs in warp and weft (matching the axis of a pointed star, or any other pattern as the case may be).

Chirala was the oldest center for weaving, which was a part of yesteryears’ Madras Presidency. The famous Telia Rumals and chowkas (diamond within a sqaure) were worn by the Indian fisherfolk, cowherds as lungis, loincloths and turbans. In 1930’s, there were exported to Burma, Middle east and east aftrica and they were known as Asia Rumal.

The unique differentiation in a Telia rumal is the pre-treatment of yarn before dying. The yarn is soaked in castor oil or gingelly oil, and the dye spreads uniformly and gives a density to the color. And also helped the fisherfolks in their fabrics being water-resistant to a certain degree.

Double ikat tie and dye, translation of designs, mathematical precision lies in the unsaid technical brilliance of the dyers and  weavers. See how the fine silk double ikat designs are translated to weft first, and with the aid of graphs.

Weft 1.jpg

Graph

And the technical brilliance of the handloom weavers come in when they actually match the warp precisely over the weft – and so that’s why its called a double ikat!

Double ikat silk.jpg

Puttapakka has about 25000 weavers, and the good news is the demand exceeds supply. And the market and unique designs goes to the master weavers first. The weavers prefer to work on silk double ikats than cottons because of the wages!

Had a chance to meet the master weaver, “Gajam Anjaiah” – he is the National award winner for 1987, Sant Kabir Award 2010, Padma Shri Award 2013!

In a simple khadi white shirt, smile and sundara telugu, he shows and explains the award winning 16 symbol motif saree of Jainism.

Gajam Anjaih

And see his video of the making of this saree!

 

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