Ikat warp, bamboo/handspun cotton, Sumba, Indonesia, 1900-1940
This warp ikat was made in Sumba, Indoesia.
Warp ikat involves the tying and dyeing of the warp (vertical) threads with the design for the textile prior to weaving. Shown here are the threads prepared for a continuous warp ikat from Sumba.
Batik and ikat are the two textile traditions most strongly associated with Indonesia, and both are resist dye processes. In warp ikat, which is the most common type of ikat, the warp yarns are wound onto a frame and the design is formed by binding small bundles of yarns to prevent penetration of the dye. For each colour different areas of the yarns must be tied off or the binding removed before immersing in the dye bath. In weft ikat only the wefts are prepared in this way, and in the rare double ikat both warp and weft are patterned prior to weaving.
The Sumbanese believe that a person takes on the special powers and characteristics of an animal when they wear a textile bearing its image. It's a little hard to tell whether these animals are deer or horses, though probably deer with spreading antlers, which are a symbol of royalty. The large curling motifs in the lower half are shrimps, because shrimps shed their shells in the process of renewal, they symbolise the powers of the ruler.
This warp ikat was made 1900-1940.d