Secrets of Indian Handloom — Pochampally Ikat

Updated: Nov 8, 2019

Intricate designs come to life from master craftsmen of Pochampally

The Pochampally Ikat products are handcrafted to perfection by skilled artisans who are endowed with critical skills in intricate designs, having decades of experience behind them in their respective fields. In certain cases, these masterpieces can take up to one hundred and twenty days to take final shape, to the satisfaction of the craftsmen. The Ikat thus produced is the unique characteristic of Pochampally Ikat and is peculiar to it alone and to no other Ikat in India.

Pochampally Ikat is made of natural materials such as cotton or silk or a combination of both, having designs that are evocative of the diffused diamond or chowka (diamond within a square) design. The process of making Pochampally lkat involves tying and dyeing the threads in a visualized design before weaving of the fabric. The fabric so woven is used as Sarees for centuries.

3 basic forms of Pochampally Ikat

Pochampally Ikat has the designs that are reminiscent to the diamond or Chowka (diamond within a square) design, woven in pairs of specified length and is characterized by its bold, diffused and geometrical motifs in red, black and white colors, offset by wide single-colored borders. The diffused edges of the said designs evolved using special skills in the visualization of design are again unique to Pochampally Ikat. Along with the traditional diamond motifs, parrot, elephant, and flower motifs are also used. The 3 forms of Pochampally Ikat are ...

  1. Single Ikat, where either warp or weft threads are tied and dyed prior to weaving

  2. Combined Ikat, where warp and weft ikat may co-exist in different parts of the fabric occasionally overlapping

  3. Double Ikat, which is by far the most complex form. Here both warp and weft threads are tied and dyed with such precision, that when woven threads form both axes, mesh exactly at certain points to form a complete motif or pattern.


History of Pochampally Ikat

In late 19th century, 'Chirala', the oldest center for weaving of Pochampally Ikat, situated on the rail route between Vijayawada and Chennai (formerly known as Madras), was once known to produce the famous cotton 'Telia Rumals' or 'Chowkas' (diamond within a square) woven in pairs and measuring 55 to 75 square cms. Characterized by their bold geometrical motifs, in red, black and white, offset by wide single-colored borders, they were used in India by fisherfolk and cowherds as loincloths, lungis or turbans. In the 1930's they were exported in large numbers to Burma, the Middle East and East Africa where they were known as Asia Rumals. The term lkat stems from the Malay - Indonesian expression 'Mangikat' meaning to bind, knot or wind around.

What's unique about Pochampally Ikat

Pochampally lkat consists of fabric made by a process of tying and dyeing the yarn prior to weaving, mainly cotton or silk, or a combination of both originating from the geographical region of Nalgonda and Warangal Districts in the State of Andhra Pradesh (now Telangana) in India, having single, combined or double Ikat, in several variations, ranging from

  1. the use of diamond or chowka (diamond within a square) designs

  2. diagonal or square grids in which geometrical, floral figurative motifs are woven

  3. striped or chevron forms

  4. to other abstract variations

Secret to creating sustainable and responsible fabric — Pochampally Ikat

In principle, Pochampally Ikat or resist dyeing involves the sequence of tying (or wrapping) and dyeing sections of bundled yarn to a predetermined color scheme prior to weaving. Thus the dye penetrates the exposed section, while the tied section remains un-dyed. The patterns formed by this process on the yarn are then woven into the fabric. Telia Rumal is one such type of Pochampally Ikat.

Traditional process of making Telia Rumal

The general principles for the manufacture of Telia Rumal are explained below with an example. About 0.45 kilograms of yarn is required to make a ten-meter length material. Usually, a larger quantity is prepared as detailed in the following recipe.

Pre-dye treatment

  • 4.5 kg 120 count cotton yarn divided into 10 bundles

  • 10 kg fresh sheep dung (mixed with 25 liters water)