IKAT: METAMORPHOSIS FROM A TRADITIONAL TEXTILE PRODUCTION TO SUSTAINABLE OPTION- NEW VISTA
Dr. Purva Khurana, Associate Professor National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi (NIFT) NIFT campus, Hauz Khas, New Delhi-110016
The present paper focuses on the traditional textile craft of Ikat in Andhra Pradesh, (southern) India. Ikat as an art form, having emerged from socio- religious milieu of the State in the past and till date, continues to be so, is meant to support the local economy, help them underline the value of their cultural identity and in the process, enhance their design-enrichment. In this endeavour, it also studies its transformation by way of connectivity between tradition and modernity, besides exploring the much-needed “innovation” – in terms of process, fabric-material and dyeing-material while suitably dovetailing the retention of its identity and character i.e. a fast-getting extinct traditional craft which so much badly deserves preservation.
Despite plagued by history of turmoil, what is truly outstanding about the traditional ikat craft of Andhra Pradesh, is that it is still alive and thriving as also breathing part of the region’s cultural and social life. The Ikat weaving technique has been well adopted by the local weavers and its production has been impeccable which no machine has been able to successfully reproduce so far. Over the years, weavers have upgraded the whole process of ikat making by “cotemporarising”, giving it a sustainable identity which is able to cater to the growing market demands. It is a living art and unless new blood is poured into it all the time, it would die. So, it becomes imperative for Ikat tradition, to survive as a living craft, that it should lend itself to continuous process of experiments, change and growth as it has to justify itself as a universal language of aesthetic sensibility.
The instant Paper aims to examine contours of the ikat production process from its pure form, to fashion-driven and market-oriented production, with upgraded process, material and tools. In the context of material innovation, we see varied textures with suitable counts, giving totally new appeal to products and more emphatically, dyeing-material innovation. It tracks the journey of use of dyes, from the initial aal as would give traditional ikat the desired colour, to synthetic alizarin, in early twentieth century, which could cater to higher production levels, natural dyes lacked in because of the limited availability and lengthy extraction process from tree-roots and finally, to globally-acceptable eco-safe synthetic dyes which don’t harm the environment. With the passage of time, the lengthy dyeing process of alizarin which was mordant style of dyeing and not eco-friendly, owing to the presence of metal-ions released during the process as also due to the oily-smells it renders to dyeing material, gave way to its quicker alternative in form of eco-friendly dyes as could render yet higher production besides being more acceptable by the consumer.
The present paper summarises the results of the study carried out by the authors on the analysis of existing environmentally-safer dyes and their applications on Ikat besides exploring different methods of dyeing cotton yarn for Ikat-weaving and evaluating their colour-fastness properties, a highly desirable quotient for customer-satisfaction.
Dr. Purva Khurana is an Associate Professor with Fashion Design Department in National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi, having teaching experience of more than 18 years, is a Postgraduate with Major in Textiles and Clothing from Delhi University and has done her doctorate in field of Ikat craft in India.
Her area of specialization is Fashion and Textiles. She has been actively involved in organizing Fashion Shows and various Craft Cluster studies besides having executed numerous prestigious projects of designing of uniforms for various government organizations.
Having done extensive research in traditional textiles of India and Pattern development, especially kids wear she has presented research papers in national seminar, conference and apparel magazine.