Despite the history of turmoil, what is truly outstanding is that even today, India's textile craft traditions are alive and thriving.
Urbanisation and globalisation of consumer tastes have not robbed them of their place in India's cultural and social life. Double ikat Telia Rumal is one such example. India, Indonesia and Japan are the only three places in the world where double ikat is still manufactured.
Andhra Pradesh is India's most prolific producer of ikat. In fact, the ikat industry has grown immensely in the last four decades in Pochampalli. However, Pochampalli ikat owes its genesis to the Telia Rumal. The innate beauty of historical and contemporary Telia Rumal illustrates how traditional methods of hand weaving evolve and mature with limited resources and yet, have not changed fundamentally for centuries. They display an exceptionally high standard of craftsmanship and an intimate knowledge of materials handed down from generation to generation. No machine has been able to successfully reproduce the double Ikat.
INDIA'S TREASURE TROVE
Since time immemorial, the Indian sub-continent has been a storehouse of artistic talent including in the field of textiles. Ancient Indian texts, scriptures and myths have greatly influenced their shaping.
Ikat textile decoration can be called sui generis. Meticulous dexterity manifests in earthy designs. Though Rouffaer is credited with introducing the term ikat in Europe, it owes its origin to the Malay-Indonesian word mangikat which means to tie, wind or bind.
Ikat entails tying and dyeing of the yarn, before weaving, in a premeditated shade-design. Consequently, only the exposed portion of the thread is subjected to the dye effect, resulting in a typical motif.
There are three major types of ikat. In single Ikat either warp or weft is tied and dyed, before weaving. In Combined Ikat, intermittent overlapping at different portions is noticed as warp and weft effect. Double Ikat, using the Alizarin dyeing process, is the most intricate where both warp and weft are tied and dyed so intricately that the result is a unique woven design.
The ikat process varies in certain details throughout the world. Many ancient cultures practised Single Ikat craft but interestingly, India enjoys the distinction of carrying on the Double Ikat till date. Japan and Indonesia are the only other Ikat producers in the world.
Samples and information collected by historians establish the prevalence of deep-rooted Indian traditions of applying a wide spectrum of colours, mostly natural, from the ancient times up to the second half of the nineteenth century. This helped form the platform to showcase one of the world's finest Ikat techniques.