Ikat, is an intricate art of tying and dyeing the yarn in pre-conceived designs which emerge as the yarn is woven with precision in hand operated looms. A characteristic of Ikat is an apparent blurriness to the design. The blurriness is the result of the extreme difficulty the weaver has lining up the dyed yarns so that the patterns comes out perfectly in finished clothes. Ikat with its trademark blurriness, multiple colours and complicated patterns are more difficult to to create and therefore often more expensive. However the blurriness that is so characteristic of Ikat is often prized by textile collectors. Ikat, locally known as Baandha Kala (meaning the art of tie-n-dye in Odisha) dates back to ages and is linked to Lord Jagannath cult practices, which is a tradition in Odisha.
The basic colours used in the fabric reflect a symbolic concept of the Jaganath cult, the four primary colours used in keeping with this tradition are white, black, yellow and red with green added in later dates. These colors are said to denote the past, present, and future, to the Vedas and Gods.
In Warp Ikat it is only the warp yarns that are dyed using the Ikat technique. The weft yarns are dyed a solid colour. The Ikat pattern is clearly visible in the warp yarns wound onto the loom even before the weft is woven in. In Weft Ikat it is the welf yarn that carries the dyed patterns. Therefore, the pattern only appears as the weaving proceeds. Weft Ikats are much slower to weave than Warp Ikat because the weft yarns must be carefully adjusted after each passing of the shuttle to maintain the clarity of the design. Double Ikat is a technique in which both warp and the weft are resist-dyed prior to weaving. This for of Ikat is more difficult to produce and also the most expensive.