Ikat (pronounced ee-kat) is a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles that employs a resist dyeing process similar to tie-dye. The defining characteristic of ikat is the dyeing of patterns, by means of bindings, into the threads before cloth construction, the weaving of the fabric, takes place. Herein lies the difference between ikat and tie-dye. In tie-dye the fabric is woven first and the resist bindings are then applied to the fabric which is dyed.
Ikat fabrics are the oldest known patterned textiles in the world. They appear in cultures as diverse as Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Guatemala, Turkey, and India. Because textiles rarely survive more than a few thousand years, it is unknown how far back Ikat patterns date.
Today’s interior designers are reinventing the Ikat, using the ancient techniques and creating fresh designs. Reproduction Ikat designs allow us to use these exciting patterns in ways that we could never use antique fabrics - upholstery, drapery, area rugs and fashion.