Institute of Khmer Traditional Textiles
Ikat Tying, memory from the hand
Cambodian Ikat is tied and dyed three times or more before weaving, using thin strips of banana fibre each one millimeter long. We use banana fibre instead of plastic, due to its superior strength and waterproof qualities, traditionally it was used in rope for ships. It is these qualities that make it the best possible tool for tying our designs, considering that once tied, these threads maybe dyed over five times.
Our designs and motifs are passed down through generations, and the weavers remember everything by heart and hand. No drawings or sketches inform the designs, only that of the creations' previous. With every design the individuals bring their own style and sense of beauty, this is what makes each design so special and unique. The artist brings a lifetime of memories and emotions into each piece, making traditional Ikat so spectacular; our fabric embodies the soul of the weaver.
Although Cambodian Ikat has a basic colour palette, it is the knowledge and skill of an experienced weaver that masters the use of these colours. By cleverly placing and interweaving certain colour combinations, the weaver can create an astonishing depth of colour. The more experienced the weaver, the more knowledge they have about the range of colours available to her through using such a basic palette, to the point where she can play with different hues and tones.
To prepare the weave, several of the women villagers come together and prepare the warp thread. They do so by pulling the thread out, anything up to 7 meters and combing it out to the width of the weft. Once they have combed the warp threads into place, they will then prepare it on the loom. All our looms are hand made, often by the men of the village who are experienced carpenters. It may take up to 3 months to complete some of our larger pieces; the time and effort involved give our fabrics their quality and character.