Weaving a warp ikat. © Tim Stanley

Weaving a warp ikat. © Tim Stanley

When all the dyes are applied to the ikat warp, the threads are once again returned to the binding workshop and unbound for the final time and sent to the weaving workshop. There the warp is cut into shorter lengths ready for weaving. The warp is attached to a simple treadle loom (a loom in which pedals move the warps so that the wefts can be passed through). Central Asian ikats are warp-faced textiles, which means that the warp thread is much denser than the weft thread. The pattern of the warp is therefore not interrupted by the weft so the work of the designers, binders and dyers is visible to full effect.

The final stage is to apply a finish to the the textile to give it its distinctly shiny surface. Various methods such as an egg-white solution or a type of glue are used - this is applied to the cloth and beaten with a convex wooden hammer or a glass sphere, which also helps to shine, soften the surface and give the cloth a slightly rippled effect. Alternitavely, no finishing solution was applied but the cloth is beaten in the same way. This releases the natural oils of the silk thread and provides a shine to the surface.

Photograph © Tim Stanley