songket, suzani, ikat; cotton, silk, velvet, viscose
Songket, is a precious fabric that belongs to the brocade family of textiles of South-East Asia. Traditionally worn during ceremonial occasions as a sarong, shoulder cloth or head tie. It is hand woven in silk or cotton and delicately patterned with gold or silver thread. These gold and silver threads are inserted between the silk or cotton weft (latitudinal) threads. The term Songket comes from the Malay/Indonesian word sungkit,which means ‘to hook’ and has its root in the method through which the songket is made; to hook and pick a group of threads and then slip the gold and silver threads through.
Suzani refers to a type of embroidered and decorative tribal Central-Asian textile. Originating from the Persian word Suzan meaning ‘needle’, the art of producing this textile is extremely time consuming. Theyusually have a cotton andsometime silk fabric base, which is then embroidered using chain, satin and buttonhole stitches in silk or cotton threads. Couching, is also used in which decorative thread laid on the fabric as a raised line is stitched in place using a second thread. It is common to find Souzanis produced in several pieces that are later sewn together. Traditionally Central-Asian brides produced Sousanis as part of their dowry, presented to the bridegroom on their wedding day.
Ikat, derived from the Indonesian word mengikat ‘to tie’, is a dyeing technique that produces patterned textiles and is produced through a resist dyeing process on either the warp (longitudinal) or weft (transverse) thread prior to weaving. Bindings, which resist-dyeing, are applied to the threads (silk, cotton or wool) in the intended patterns and then dyed. Elaborate, intricate designs are produced through the alteration between the bindings and dyeing using several colours. Once the dyeing process is completed, the threads are ready to be woven. In warp ikat the patterns are clearly visible in the warp threads on the loom even before the plain colored weft is introduced to produce the fabric. In weft ikat it is the weaving or weft thread that carries the dyed patterns which only appear as the weaving proceeds. The weaving process of a weft ikat is much slower, as the passes of the weft must be closely followed and adjusted to maintain the clarity of pattern and design. Double Ikat is where both warp and the weft are resist-dyed prior to stringing on the loom.