In Indonesia, where the technique originated, the word ikat means “bind.” It refers to a method of resist-dyeing bound bundles of threads to create often-colorful and complex patterns that appear when a textile is woven. In Uzbekistan, this process is referred to in an ethereal way; the Uzbek term “abrband” means “tying a cloud.”
According to Aziz Murtazaev, founder of the Crafts Studio IkatUz cooperative, there are two processes that make ikat production unique. The first is the cultivation of silkworms and harvesting their cocoons. The second is the spinning and dyeing of threads. Aziz, who designs ikat patterns says, “Ikat making is a community work. […] At each stage, [threads are] handed to one of our masters, an expert in that particular stage, prior to being passed on. It’s because of this delicate teamwork and specific skills that the ikat production process is very particular, meticulous and time-consuming.” The entire dyeing routine can take up to ten days, depending on the complexity of the design.
Crafts Studio IkatUz offers an exciting variety of ikat items including luxurious silk tunics, caftans, and vests, as well as accessories to compliment them—a variety of clutches and soft scarves. Additionally, the cooperative produces collections of home goods including quilted cotton bedcovers, velvet cushions, and even transformable fabric trays for organizational needs. For those who prefer to craft their own ikat items, dye and woven adras is available by the yard.
Having studied business at institutions throughout Asia and Europe, Aziz’s artistic and financial acumen have allowed him to expand his business internationally. “I believe if the craft is developed as a business by constantly improving the working conditions, quality of products and bringing new ideas that result in prosperity and sustainability. […] I am proud that life turned me into an artist.”