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The saree making process

First the yarn is tied in bundles. Yarn could be silk, cotton, jute or any other fibre chosen as base material. The resist bindings in the form of wax or any other dye resistant material, is then applied over the yarn. The dye is applied carefully and systematically and according to the desired shade.

The procedure of application of resist bindings afresh for different colours is repeated till the dyeing process of all colours used is complete.

Washed and dried in shade, the coloured threads are laid out on the loom and the weft on small spindles is used to interweave across the warp threads to create the fabric. Important is the pattern that has to surface accurately on the warp for which the alignment of the warp threads is a pre-requisite. If the alignment is precise, the resulting motif comes out as a fine print rather than as a weave.

Here the skill of the weaver comes into play. The warp threads are manually raised selectively to allow the weft thread to pass through and how keenly this follows the intended design determines the fineness of the resulting pattern on the fabric.

Patterns can be formed vertically, horizontally or diagonally.

Weft ikat is preferred when it is the overall picture that is important and not the precision of the patterns. Double ikkat is even rarer and an example is the Patan Patola of Gujarat. Lesser accurate or poor imitation double ikkat versions are available in the market.

The artistic excellence of ikat prints can be gauged from its traditional motifs of flowers, dancing girl, creepers, leafs, parrot, animals, birds, mythological characters and geometrical patterns. Most of the ikkat printed sarees have repeated geometrical patterns of diamonds (rattan chowk), circles, squares, lines etc.