Also known as ‘Poetry of the Loom’, Ekkat got this name due to the tedious and often long process of manufacturing. Indians widely use this traditional pattern to make beautiful clothes. As we associate the state of Odisha with Indian Ekkat, Bengal has several stores which has good collections. Therefore, we get to keep beautiful Ekkat items in our wardrobe. If you are one of the unfortunate ones to not own one, buy it immediately. But before you decide to treat yourself a gorgeous Ekkat shrug or top from Dakshinapan Saree shop, let’s read about it a little more.
What exactly is Ekkat?
Ekkat literally translates to “to bind” in Malay language. It refers to the technique used for dyeing the fabric to get the pattern which it is so famous for. Therefore, to be conceptually correct, Ekkat is more of a dying technique than a print or pattern.
The mystery regarding its origination
While no one really knows from where this particular dyeing technique originates, according to many, it grew its roots in either India or Indonesia. As per some sources, artians migrating from Gujarat brought with them the famous Orissa Ekkat around 12th century. They mostly migrated from the Pathan region and carried forward the craft with themselves. Historians have also found this particular patterns in the garments in Ajanta cave paintings which dates back to the fifth century.
According to other sources, Ekkat originates in the South-east region of Asia, Indonesia and Cambodia being the popular candidate. Other likely origin locations are Peru and Chile.
In conclusion, we can say that the pattern of dyeing it is not really a single pattern. It is, in fact, a collective pattern which had evolved independently in several places at several time-period.
The making of Ekkat in Odisha
In Odisha, weavers commonly use Ekkat pattern to manufacture beautiful silk or cotton items. They create this particular pattern in the process commonly known as `resist dying’.
The warp or weft threads are bundled and bounded with dye resistant rubber bands. Weaver then tie this bundle to a wooden frame and soak them into the dye vat. Here it receives several dye treatments to generate bands of vibrant patterns. Once the dying process is complete, the weavers weaves these treads through intricate and complex process producing the exquisite fabrics. These fabrics are then turned to wonderful cloths. Back in the old days, colors extracted from plants, flowers, and barks of trees were used as dyes. But in recent times, due to the increased demand, chemical dyes are also being used.
One can pair gorgeous Ekkat tops with beautiful oxidised jewellery in Kolkata.