What is Ikat or Ikkat ?

Ikkat, or Ikat, is a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles that employs a resist dyeing process on the warp fibres, the weft fibres, or in the rare and costly ‘double ikat’ both warp and weft, prior to dyeing and weaving.

In ikat, the resist is formed by binding bundles of threads with a tight wrapping applied in the desired pattern. The threads are then dyed. The bindings may then be altered and the thread bundles dyed again with another color to produce elaborate, multicolored patterns. When the dyeing is finished the bindings are removed and the threads are woven into a cloth. In other resist-dyeing techniques such as tie-dye and batik, the resist is applied to one side of the woven cloth, whereas in ikat the threads are dyed before weaving, and both sides are essentially identical in appearance.

Ikat is more of Indonesia product, though ikats have also been woven in India and central Asia. Double ikats are produced in a few places including the village of Tenganan in Bali, the Okinawa islands of Japan,  and the villages of Puttapaka and Bhoodan Pochampally in Telangana state of India.

Types of Ikat

In warp ikat the patterns are clearly visible in the warp threads on the loom even before the plain colored weft is introduced to produce the fabric. Warp ikat is, amongst others, produced in Indonesia; more specifically in Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Sumatra by respectively the Dayaks, Torajans and Bataks.

In weft ikat it is the weaving or weft thread that carries the dyed patterns which only appear as the weaving proceeds. In weft ikat the weaving proceeds much slower than in warp ikat as the passes of the weft must be carefully adjusted to maintain the clarity of the patterns.

Double Ikat - a technique in which both weft and the warp are resist-dyed prior to stringing on the handloom. Double ikat is produced pnly in three countries: India, Indonesia and Japan. The double ikat of Indonesia is only made in one small Bali Aga village, Tenganan in east Bali. In Japan it is a type of kasuri. It is woven in the Okinawa islands where it is called tate-yoko gasuri.  The double ikat of India is predominantly woven in Gujarat and is called patola and it is also woven in Pochampally and Puttapaka,Nalgonda District of Telangana State in India and is called Puttapaka Saree.

Cotton Saree - Pochampally Ikat Style

Double Ikat Cotton Saree from Pochampally

Gajam Anjaiah honoured with Padma Shri by President of India

Gajam Anjaiah (born 16 May 1955) is an Indian master handloom designer who is widely recognised in the handloom industry for his innovations and developments of Tie and Dye handloom products along with Telia Rumal technique of weaving (IKAT / Tie & Dye process). He received Padma Shri from Government of India under Art category in 2013. He is known for his traditional design known as Puttapaka Sarees in Tie and dye skill, that is the traditional art of designing on paper and then transferring it on to cloth. His dedication to the Handloom Industry has kept the Indian tradition of weaving alive, brought livelihood to the weavers and gave exclusive/unique designed handloom products to the people in India.

Telia Rumal Cotton Saree

What is a Telia Rumal design?

Telia Rumal is a design for the oil treatment. It is an art of Ikat tradition using natural vegetable dyes. Weavers of Pochampalli and Puttapaka are popular for Telia Rumal designs. 

Cotton Saree

Buy Telia Rumal Cotton Saree

These double ikat squares were created in a small area of Telangana using an unusual combination of Alizarin, iron or indigo and numerous vegetable oils in the process. The colours were all a variation of red, pink or purple depending on the oil mordants used. The name Telia means oil and Rumal means handkerchief or square. The making of telia rumal (literally oily handkerchief) involves dipping the yarn into an oily solution before weaving.The finished cloth has a strong oil smell. These were used by fishermen as turbans and loincloths as well as by nobility. Ikats and brocade silks in Telangana are skillfully woven at home under the supervision of master weavers. The wages at the end of the day depends on the quality and richness of the silks woven and the weaver who makes plain silks does not earn much. Puttapaka and Pochampalli in Nalgonda district  are famous for their work in tie-and-dye weaving. 

This craft involves a detailed and sophisticated process where the warp and the weft are tied and dyed according to a predetermined design. Both cotton and silk fabrics are prepared using this process. The patola or ikat saris of Pochampalli are generally centered on geometrical designs. A large variety of cotton lungis or cotton sarongs (draped around the waist ) for men are also prepared using this technique.

Weavers from Puttapaka
During the Nizam’s dynasty “Puttapaka” a small backward village of Telangana region had about 20 families engaged in handloom weaving, who were patronized by the rich Muslim families, Damsthanams and Nizam rulers. With very limited resources the weavers used to achieve spectacular results. The Gajam family have lived in Puttapaka for the last 100 years having a pioneering history of producing the Telia Rumal. The late Shri Gajam Veeraiah, father of the present weavers was a Master weaver in his community. The Master weaver status began in 1956 after India’s independence and with the inception of the Co-operative movement. Presently two of the brothers hold the master weaver status. The late Pupal Jayakar – then advisor to the Government of India visited the village of Puttapaka and apprised their work.  Mr. G. Ramulu, eldest brother was awarded the “VISVAKARMA”  by the late Smt. Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India. He was also awarded with “National Award in Tie and Dye (Ikat) in 1990 and  has won a UNESCO craft prize in 1992  for his contribution to the craft. More recently National Awards have been bestowed on Ramulu’s wife Rambhaiamma and his other brother Narsimha.

Buy Telia Rumal Sarees in Double Ikat


Master Weaver Ramulu of Puttapaka weaving a Telia Rumal