The ancient cities of Central Asia, along the Silk Road, had been known for centuries for producing luxury fabrics. In the case of ikat fabrics, the major production started in Bukhara and spread to Samarkand and then the Fergana Valley. The spectacular patterns and vivid colors of the ikat fabrics - the status symbols of Central Asia. The ikat was the supreme expression of the designer’s art and the dyer’s skill, an important product of a growing urban economy and a gift of significance and prestige.
One reason for the prestige of ikat fabrics is the difficulty of making them. The technology of ikat manufacturing is quite complicated and includes 37 steps.
Ikat is a very ancient way of creating designs in fabric by resist-dyeing the threads before the fabric is woven. In Uzbekistan such technique is called the abrband, which means “tying a cloud”, and the fabrics produced by such a method are called “abr”
Arbandi masters think abrbandy technique is very ancient. The term "Abr" is used in literary sources of the 16th century.
The technique of dyeing the threads of the base in the "Abr" method is quite complex: it is based on painstaking manual labor and requires a lot of art. Carefully prepared for the basis of the thread length from 200 to 300 meters are distributed on a special machine in small beams –libity. The number of threads in each libit (40 or 60) depends on the specific width of the fabric and its density. Libits are connected in pairs and wound on the cross bars of the frame-machine. On the surface formed by libits, a thin stick soaked in diluted water soot, the artist abrband applies half of the pattern on the vertical axis, marking the contours of his dashes. Knowing by heart dozens of traditional patterns, the master does not use any sketches or stencils. Disassembly of the pattern in color is carried out on the principle of gradual coloring of the individual elements of the pattern in different colors, and the details of the pattern are alternately reserved by tying the sections of the libites with thick cotton threads. Coloring is carried out by immersion of the prepared libites in boiling paint and boiling in it within several minutes.Ancient fabrics were stained with water extracts from the roots, fruits, leaves of those dye plants that grow in large quantities now in Central Asia.
After all the colors are applied and fixed, the base is freed from bandages and dried, unwinding of paired libites is performed.The subsequent process consists in" unfolding the picture", the pair libits are separated and placed on both sides of the vertical, after which, of course, the full picture is reproduced.
Before filling the machine thread bases are subjected to additional processing (combing, impregnating with starch, etc.).After a special finish, the front side of the half-silk fabrics acquires a kind of moire iridescence, and pure silk becomes shiny and soft. Special finishing of silk and semi-silk fabrics has been practiced in the textile industry of Central Asia since ancient times. To give shine applied burnish using egg whites. The end of the cut tissue was wetted in protein composition and folded into the dry part. Blows wooden hammer (kudung) master sought uniform distribution of liquid on the surface of the fabric.
Different regions of Uzbekistan are characterized by traditional color and characteristic color combinations. Colorful Abr tissue consists mainly of seven colors: yellow, burgundy, green, black, blue, pink, purple. The harmony of colors is also achieved due to the mutual presence of one color in another and the partial participation of the background color in the whole pattern. However, it should be noted that, despite the contrast of combinations, the masters achieve full color balance and harmony, since, when applying the pattern, always take into account the strength of colors and their ratio.
The laws of color ratios are very skillfully applied by masters in the process of practical work. Learned techniques of color combinations are never broken. When painting basics tissue masters subject to the following rules: the color Burgundy is used alongside pink and yellow, but not black. To yellow goes green and violet, to violet –white. Sometimes the master put green next to pink, considering that it adds some eccentricity. It is not recommended to combine yellow with white.If a colored background is placed the mud a pattern, selecting his color master adheres to longstanding traditions: on a maroon background placed item colored pink or yellow, yellow - purple or blue, white - black or green. The pink color in the colors of the fabrics, the wizard used very sparingly. It serves, in their figurative expression, to " picture blossomed like a flower."The coloristic perfection is so great in the Abr fabrics that the pattern of the fabric almost loses its meaning. Skillfully combining and varying in color the stock of the elements known to them, masters create the most difficult ornamental compositions.