INSPIRATION: Resist Dyeing

Located in the far left of the FSAD lobby area.

Resist dyeing refers to techniques where a part of the fabric or yarn has been tied or coated so that dye can no longer penetrate the fiber. Resists may occur through tying fabric or yarns tightly, or using some kind of paste (e.g., hot wax or a starchy thick liquid).

Dress, green adire eleko Detail Close Up

The backdrop in this case, featured in the TEXTILE section towards the end of the page, and the ensemble to the right were made by Yoruba people in Western Nigeria in the 1950s, using a cassava root paste as the resist. The backdrop was painted with the starchy resist and then dyed with indigo, whereas the western-style dress in front was colored first with a synthetic green dye, then painted with the cassava root resist, and then dyed again with a darker green. Both textiles feature bird imagery: on the dress, the spots suggest guineafowl of some kind, but the overall shape and posture depicted appears much more like a chicken because the tail is pointed upwards (guineafowl almost never raise their tails in this way). On the backdrop, the short legs and long, whimsical tail of this bird suggest some kind of widowbird; however, its up right posture also conjures up a stylized Secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius), with extremely stout legs. What bird do you see here?

Dress, wax print Detail Close Up

The ensemble to the left features a Graylag Goose (Anser anser) rendered through batik (wax resist). The textile is a copy of M.C. Escher’s 1938 woodcut print, Sky and Water I and a classic example of a “Dutch wax print.” In the mid-19th century, the Dutch took advantage of new roller printing technologies to imitate labor-intensive batik designs they appropriated from their Indonesian colonies (then, the Dutch East Indies).

Sari, ikat bird design Detail Close Up

On the right, a bright orange Pochampally saree, from the Yadadri Bhuvanagiri district of Telangana, India, features a warp ikat bird design. The pronounced tail adorned with spots suggests this bird may be a peacock or Gray Peacock-Pheasant (Polyplectron bicalcaratum); however, the posture depicted through the ikat design are more reminiscent of chickens that carry their tails up right. Ikat refers to a resist dyeing technique in which the yarns are tied, successively dyed, and then warped onto a loom and woven. In other words, the textile design is dyed onto the yarns before the cloth is made. This complex resist dyeing technique is incredibly labor intensive and often imitated with mechanized techniques like silk screen printing; however, if you look closely at an authentic ikat fabric you will notice the hazy edges of the design follow exactly along the warp (vertical yarns of the textile, as compared to the weft, which run horizontally). This saree is a warp ikat (single ikat), but double ikat fabrics (where the weft has also been designed and pre-dyed) are also produced in Telangana, India. In order to identify a double ikat, hazy edges will be found in both vertical (warp) and horizontal (weft) yarns.