DNA of IKAT ART
There are only several countries in the world (Afghanistan, Argentina, Cambodia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Myanmar, Philippines, Spain (Mallorca), Tajikistan, and Thailand), where Abr-textiles, better known as ikats, are produced.
Ahrbandi (Central Asian ikats) represents a special and recognisable group among ikat textiles, and its main features are bright colours and a certain blurriness of patterns. Abr-Textiles became popular mainly during the 19th and 20th centuries in Central Asia and are considered to be one of the most significant textile legacies in the history of the transcontinental Great Silk Road.
During the nineteenth century, ikat fabrics played an important economic role: commercially, they were luxuries and valuable trading goods. These fabrics indicated social distinction in costume, presents (e.g. representative robes), and ceremonial costumes. Both the taste of consumers of Abr-textiles as well as the textiles’ pattern designs have experienced a multitude of transformations. Since the 1960s, the value of traditional textile handicraft in Uzbekistan – the main centre of Central Asia ikat production - has been re-discovered and developed. Since Uzbekistan gained political independence in 1991, the Abr-textiles have experienced a new renaissance in fashion design and in the folklore business.
Contemporary ikat production is not as varied and rich as it was in ancient times and half a century ago. Many traditional textiles are not produced anymore. When they are mentioned in literature, there is often a lack of precise explanations about technology, terminology, and nomenclature.
In the middle of first decade of the 21st century, Uzbek ikats began making their way into the world of international fashion. In 2005, one of the most famous US designers, Oscar de la Renta, was the first to present an “Uzbek” collection. Later, in 2007, a series of experiments with Uzbek ikats was successfully made by Nicolas Ghesquiere (House of Balenciaga). Frida Giannini, creative director of Gucci and Dries Van Noten, was inspired by the traditional textiles of Uzbek culture. Since that time, ikat has become one of the hits in international fashion. Outfits with Uzbek print have been produced by almost all popular fashion brands.
The special web search executed for this project has found numerous Central Asian Ikat collections in many world-famous museums. Among them are the Textile Museum in Washington (USA), the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (UK), the Linden Museum in Stuttgart (BRG), the Kunstkamera in Saint-Petersburg (Russia), the Asia and Pacific Museum in Warsaw (Poland), the Israel Museum (Jerusalem), and the Islamic Arts Museum (Malaysia).
The possibilities generated by electronic data and the World Wide Web have inspired this broad-ranged and multi-disciplinary “IKAT-DNA” project that fosters further research and transfer of knowledge about the ikat textiles of Uzbekistan in order to analyze, streamline, and formalize the scientific knowledge about the subject. The project is geared towards a specific task: to develop the initial foundation of a computer database.
“IKAT DNA” – a digital database devoted to Central Asian ikats, is an independent electronic multimedia tool for scientific, educational, industrial, and handicraft production purposes and a resource for designers, textile professionals, ethnographers, textile anthropologists, cultural mediators, artists, ethnologists, and students.