How is it Made?


Ikat means “to tie” in Malay/ Indonesian languages. Here are two women in Flores Island, Indonesia, tying bundles of white cotton threads that are stretched on a frame. They use palm leaves as the ties. Each tie creates a knot that held the threads together, and the arrangement of many knots create a pattern. When the tying is finished, the women will take off the threads from the frame and dip them in a dye bath to add color. But the dyes cannot penetrate the bound areas protected by the palm-leaf knots, so those areas preserve the natural white of the cotton. This is how different colors are created in ikat cloth.

Maumere, Flores, 1980s. Photos by Nobuko Kajitani

An Example From the Collection…