Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 04-14-2005 11:38 PM:

Ikat,Brocade, Ect...


Is it possible that the techniques utilized in the production of some other textiles, for which the Turkmen regions are so famous,be the origin of the symmetry of Turkmen pile weaving?

Follow this link to some examples of ikat weaving and examples of the resulting symmetry

Indonesian Ikat


Posted by Steve Price on 04-14-2005 11:55 PM:

Hi Dave

Your mention of Indonesian ikat reminded me that some ikats from mainland southeast Asia (Laos and Cambodia, in particular) may be relevant to the discussion. We did a Salon about them some time back; the link is


Steve Price

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 04-16-2005 12:11 PM:

A likely Candidate..

Hi Steve

Interesting. Seems to be some kindred symmetry here. First the ikat

and then the palas.

Whats the significance? Seems that ikat has an extensive history in this region of the world. Will get back in a while with some further info from Kalter regarding this history, and will see if I can find this certain website with some detailed info (and great photos) concerning it's production.


Posted by Steve Price on 04-16-2005 12:18 PM:

Hi Dave

That part of the Laotian skirt is brocaded, but the motifs certainly remind me of some of the palas designs.


Steve Price

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 04-16-2005 07:38 PM:


Hi Steve

True, this section is of brocade. Not entirely a bad thing. Perhaps this in itself might lend credence to the idea that these two techniques are of similar origins, or at least associated? find below an image of an ikat pattern which seems of same basic geometry as so many pile weaves, and of course the brocading of the palas as well.

Follow this link to the Indonesian Goods Shop for more examples.

I am of course no expert, but these ikat patterns and in turn the techniques used to create them are structurally based. The ikat is highly variable, and structure plays a critical role in the design and execution of patterns. Find below a description of the ikat weaving process, from the Wikipedia on line dictionary. Not the New England Journal of Medicine, but for a simple description will suffice.

Ikats created by dying the warp are the easiest to make. Before the warp strings are attached to the loom they are arranged into bundles. Each bundle is tied and dyed separately, so that a pattern will emerge when the loom is set up. This takes a good deal of skill. The tightly bound bundles are sometimes covered with wax or some other material that will keep the dyes from penetrating. The process is repeated several times for additional colors.

Some patterns have many strands in the cloth that are all dyed the same way which creates a blocky design. In some weaving traditions each strand of the cloth may be dyed differently from the ones next to it. Usually the pattern repeats in symmetrical or asymmetrical ways. In the illustration above, the right side of the weaving is identical to the left. To make these elaborate patterns the weaver will still bundle and dye several threads together, but when the loom is prepared, a single thread will be used from each bundle for each section of the pattern. Elaborate ikat patterns like this are often handed down from generation to generation in the same family.

After the threads are dyed the loom is set up. The pattern is visible to the weaver. Threads can be adjusted so that they line up correctly with each other. Some ikat styles (like in Japan and Guatemala) don't try to get the patterns precisely lined up, others (like in Timor in Indonesia) the patterns are so accurate, that you have to look closely to determine that the pattern was not printed on the cloth.

Dying the weft makes it much more difficult to make ikats with precise patterns. The weft is one continuous strand that is woven back and forth, so any errors in how the string is tied and dyed are cumulative. Because of this, weft ikats are usually used when the precision of the pattern is not the main concern. Some patterns become transformed by the weaving process into irregular and erratic designs.

Double ikats are the most difficult to produce. In the finest examples from India and Indonesia, the warp and the weft are precisely tied and dyed so that the patterns interlock and reinforce each other when the fabric is woven.

Mention of a specific type of weft faced ikat is also made, but it would take a much better structural person than me to cipher all of this. Suffice it to say that layout and execution are paramount, both it seems suggested/dictated by limitations of the medium.


Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 04-17-2005 11:59 AM:

Kalter On Ikat


This from Johannes Kalter from his "Arts And Crafts Of Turkestan".

Better represented in western collections is ikat, an outstanding product of Turkestan textile handicrafts. This was put to a variety of uses in Turkestan households as table cloths, niche curtains, tapestries, bedclothes, covers and cushion covers.

It's exremely varied patterns range from simple stripes to zigzag patterns through curved lines, to hooks, "cloudband" and circular ornamentation, classic Islamic motifs such as combinations of stars and crosses, reminescent of Seljuk tiling, realistic and abstract human figures and trees of life. Despite the credible work of the important reasearcher in the field of folk textiles, Alfred Buhler, and an article by A. Janata published in 1978, this fascinating field has barely been touched in my opinion. The authoritatitive monograph on central Asian ikat still remains to be written. Buhler assumes- and this assumption is supported by Janata- that ikat was already produced in Turkestan in the 8th cent. A.D.. The immense number and variety of patterns used in ikat offer an as yet undeciphered pattern book on which the cultures with which Turkestan had contact (China,Tibet,India ,Iran) may have left their mark.

The word "ikat" originated in indonesia. This method of fabric dyeing, like batik, is a so called "resist" or "reserve" technique, and was developed to a high degree of perfection there. According to the literature, in Turkestan, silk and mixed silk/cotton fabrics are called"abra" or "adra", in Afghanistan (according to Janata), generally "pardah" (meaning a curtain).

To make ikat, the yarn is stretched on the loom. The work is described by Janata as follows: "In the present case, the threads of the warp are dyed before weaving by tying them together in bundles according to the desired pattern. A material of several colors requires several binding and dyeing processes. Since it is impossible to tie the bundles so tightly that sharp outlines are produced, ikat weaves can be recognized by the way the colored sections flow in the direction of the patterned threads. One ikat weave requires the services of nine specialists, from spinning the silk yarn to weaving. In other places, for simpler products, fewer sufficed. It is not yet clear who made the ikat fabrics. The repeated expressed theory that it was made by Jews has not been substantiated. Janata's conclusion that they were made by Tadzhiks (Arab ethnics) is the most probable, especially since all the data relating to what craftsmen belonged to which ethnic groups, indicate most of the craftsmen practising technically sophisticated crafts were in fact Tadzhiks.

The importance of ikat in urban culture has been described by D. Dupaigne as follows: Ikat fabrics are luxuries given as gifts of honour at weddings and other important occasions. The wealth of a landlord or merchant is indicated by the richness or newness of his garb. The patterns change anually with the fashion."


P.S. I should note that a recent publication on the subject of ikat,

Kate Fitz Gibbon and Andrew Hale, Ikat: Splendid Silks of Central Asia: the Guido Goldman Collection (Lawrence King Publishing in Association with Alan Marcuson Publishing, 1999), as discussed

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 04-18-2005 11:12 PM:

(x) + (Y) = Symmetry

Hi Steve and All

While my understanding of the process of weaving ikat is far from perfect, it seems that the execution of the designs requires much of the stepping or counting off warp(X) and weft(Y), much as one might execute a rug. Perhaps this might serve to explain the often seen phenomenon of the unresolved corner, the weaver letting the materials determine where to end the row and make room for this lateral border?

Maybe this is a good place to recall Gerard Paquin's essay regarding the relationships which exists between ottoman carpet designs and those of silks and velvets.
It is logical to assume that a similar borrowing of design from the ikat was practiced by the Turkmen, the real question being the extent of the practice and the pervasiveness of the influence.Could this influence be that which sets the repetitive diagonal gul format of the Turkmen apart from other Turkic groups?

Also, what of these lappets seeming a feature of both pilewovwn and velvet yastics, as describet by Paquin? Could these stepped off triangles on terminating boundaries and borders be of analogus function/origin, albeit in ikat and palas weave? What of these triangles seen most everywhere in terminating boundaries?


Posted by Vincent Keers on 04-19-2005 01:43 AM:

Hi David,

The Turkmen patterns we see on Ikat from Indonesia are Turkmen/Turkish from origin.
The Dutch VOC (first multinational) traded in cotton, dyes, textiles and everything else that could be sold. So cotton from one country and dyes (They shipped wood from the other side of the world to Amsterdam and made the prisoners cut it in small pieces so a red dye could be made and exported the dye back to Indonesia) from another and textiles from Indonesia (a Dutch colony). The west wanted Turkish design.

Best regards,

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 04-19-2005 08:32 AM:


Hi Vincent

Those traders, they sure do know how to complicate things. Yet, ikat does originate from Indonesia, and was believed to have been introduced to Turkestan during the 8th century. I wonder of what the origional design repetoir of Indonesia consists.

None the less, these ikat patterns do seem heavily dependant upon structure for the drawing, execution and hence generation of design.

Now for the lappet effect of these terminal borders. These being copies of Turkish design may invalidate their use as an example of a technique generated form, but not necessairly. And why do these seem to imitate the lappet in velvet production? What is the relationship, if any? I wonder.


Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 04-20-2005 07:03 PM:

(x) + (Y) = Symmetry II

Greetings Everyone

Just a few more words on ikat and symmetry.
I came across this web,Phyllis Fiber's adventures and experiments in low tech weaving. The process of planning and execution of the design seems to closely parallel that of carpets. Interesting that the wefts play a central role in the execution and layout of the design, much as in the carpet .

Notice the linear progression of the design elements as simple repeating geometrics, vestigal evidence for which are found in the linear arrangement of Turkmen guls in the gul format ?
The design elements radiate from the center line in either direction just as in rugs, and that uniformity of design is achieved by counting off the warp bundles, just as carpets are knotted by counting individual warps. Seems to me a close parallel in structure and technique, between ikat and carpet.


Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 04-24-2005 12:16 PM:

Land Of A Thousand Brocades...

Greetings All

In Carel J. Du Ry's "Art Of Islam", we read on page 217 a brief summation of the textile arts during the Ilkhanid and Timurid period as follows

"The regular contacts between the Western and Easterrn Mongol princes had an appreciable influence on the production of woven fabrics. One mighjt speak of a revival of this industry, especially in gold and silver brocades, in which typically Chinese motifs such as the lotus, phoenix, the dragon, and stylized cloud forms are interwoven with great refinement in patterns of traditional Islamic design".

Silk Brocades are still an important industry today, especially in Asia. The following is from the Ming Dynasty, however.

Next is a modern example is from Turkey which was used in Morocco, where it was purchased, as a head cover for women. Interestingly, there is also a customary use by men. It seems the traditional silk brocade.

Notice the triangular formation of the wefts in this green tilework of the last image. Does this speak of symmetry and structural integrity?


Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 04-24-2005 01:04 PM:

Du Ry on the Safavids


The following is from Du Ry's "Art Of Islam" regarding textiles of the Safavid period.

"Carpets are undoubtably the most important products of the Safavid period. The long rule of this Persian dynasty afforded the opportunity for numerous local centers to evolve and flourish, so that the sixteenth century in Persia can be claimed as the "classical period" of carpet making. All the various influences of Turks, Mongols, and Arabs in the addition to the influence of other arts, particularly book illumination, seem to have been blended together in Isfahan at the command of Shah 'Abbas, who established his residence there. In Isfahan were also set up the court factories for weaving silk carpets so highly esteemed by Western Europeans. It was perhaps the richness and beauty of the large decorated areas, with their complex patterns in lovely pastel colors, often further embellished with silver and gold, that attracted "at first sight" Europeans with a taste for the magnificent. In fact, this marked the beginning of the end for the long-inviolate and noble tradition of true carpet making. The mixture of styles and materials enhanced the splendor, it is true, but weakened the "body" of the carpets.

The Safavid period was also one of great prosperity for woven fabrics, in which fantasy and taste vied for preeminence. Silk materials were woven in various colors, and shorn velvet and gold and silver brocade were popular. Many examples have reached private collections in the west, and give us an insight into the opulence of the Safavids."

Find below and image of a Safavid textile described as

"detail of a shorn velvet brocade with a repeat pattern of a beggar and a youth. 17th century, probably from Kashan"


Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 04-24-2005 01:29 PM:

Chinese Brocade and Embroidery

Greetings everyone

follow the link to a discussion of Textile Artists Of Southwestern China on Marla Malletts website and see for yourselves the importance of embroidery and brocade, among others which characterize the weaving cultures of these people.