Ikat limar is an ancient Malay weft ikat cloth, produced by a highly sophisticated technique which involved using tie-dye weft yarns. Ikat limar is documented in classical Malay literature and poems and was regarded as the finest and most valuable textile, and thus it was specially made for the royal court and the nobility during past times. Unfortunately, the ikat limar is no longer produced in Malaysia, due to its complexity in weaving and at present no weavers understand the weft ikat technique. In principle, ikat or resist dyeing involves the sequence of tying and dyeing sections of bundled yarn to a predetermined colour scheme prior to weaving. Thus, the dye penetrates only the exposed sections of the yarn to form the pattern, which is then woven into fabric.
This book represents a systemic study undertaken on ikat limar patterns and motifs, using authentic limar fabrics from museums, antique shops, local weavers and personal collections. The first section provides a historical prerspective on the Malays in Malaysia and their culture which relates towards their textile. What is notable about Malay textiles is that they have kept their value in creating patterns and motifs within their surroundings and experience of everyday life. In Malay textiles various motifs and patterns from the past are still preserved in songket textiles but not ikat limar which is also a part of the Malay heritage. This first section of the book provides a new historical perspective on Malaysian motifs and patterns for ikat limar.
In reviving the ikat limar, field trips to countries which are still practising ikat weaving were carried out to study the weft ikat techniques. Brief comparison studies between the ikat weaving in Thailand, Indonesia and India were conducted. In the conclusion of these studies it was ascertained that weft ikat techniques could be revived for the making of ikat limar cloth. This knowledge has been passed to the weavers of Pahang, and the resulting weaving can be seen in the final section of this book.
Prior to the 19th century, these textiles were produced under royal patronage – possession of an ikat or songket cloth symbolized wealth and status in the community. (From our newsletter)