We source all of our Uzbek and Central Asian textiles from a wonderful Uzbek antique textile dealer in Istanbul. We can never get enough of his kaleidoscopic silk and cotton Ikats.
Although Ikat is originally a Malay word, it is now commonly used in English to describe textiles created using the technique of resist dyeing the warp or weft prior to weaving. This method of weaving creates the signature hazy edges in the patterns.
The technique appears to have developed independently across various cultures since at least the Dark Ages, appearing in places like Pre-Columbian Peru and Guatemala, 10th century Yemen , Japan, Indonesia, India, and of course Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan is famed for its impeccable handwoven Ikat textiles. The Uzbek word for the entire range of indigenous Ikat is 'Abrabandi' which literally means 'weaving clouds'. The cloudy look of many Ikats comes from the dyes bleeding slightly into the resist areas.
A brilliantly coloured ikat coat has historically been considered a symbol of wealth and status.Ikat fabric has been highly prized all over Central Asia since the 19th century. It is widely recognised among Ikat-weaving societies that the weaving of Ikat requires exceptional skill, and weavers often dedicate their lives to perfecting the skill.
In Uzbekistan, the local market continues to prize and value Ikats, and most women own a few pieces, even when they might otherwise choose more westernised attire dress. Ikats make up Uzbek women's trousseaus, wedding dresses and special party attire.