Robes made with superior quality silks and complex designs were indicators of wealth and social status in central Asia. Two complicated, labour-intensive techniques were combined to make this spectacular and highly valued robe. The bold colours and patterns are created through a technique known as warp ikat. Before the weaving takes place, bundles of warp threads are tightly bound into the desired patterns to resist the penetration of dye, a process that is repeated for each colour. In rare instances like this, the ikat dyed warp threads are transformed, through the insertion of rods to form loops during weaving, into velvet. The loops are then cut to create the luxurious pile. When producing ikat velvet, meticulous care must be taken, during the ikat binding and dyeing process, so that the resulting designs are clear and defined within the velvet pile.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label