Geringsing: The Double Ikat Cloth of Bali
Weaving is a handicraft practised using various techniques all over Southeast Asia, but there can be none as intricately complicated as double ikat, which is found in Japan, India and Indonesia.
Ikat, which means ‘to bundle or tie’, involves dyeing a pattern into the threads of the fabric before weaving takes place. The threads are set up on the loom and the pattern is tied onto bunches of threads; the pattern is created when, through a repeated process, layers of the ties are removed and the threads dyed. In the double ikat process, both the warp and the weft threads go through this dyeing process.
In Indonesia, the double ikat technique is practised only in Bali, in the Bali Aga village of Tenganan, where the process is used to create a type of cloth called gringsing. Gringsing fabrics, which traditionally could take up to five years to create, are an essential part of the ceremonial dress and are believed to contain extraordinary powers. A few hundred years ago, researchers say, gringsing cloth was dyed with human blood, which had the power to protect the wearer from evil vibrations.