The first step in producing tenun ikat is laying out the threads around the loom. The craftmaster then ties (ikat) strings made of bamboo leaves (or today, raffia strings) around the threads according to the desired motifs. These wrappings causes certain parts of the threads to resist dye during the dyeing process. When these wrappings are ultimately opened, the desired motif / patterns are revealed. Unlike other resist-dyeing techniques like batik or tie-dye, ikat is unique in that the resist is applied to the threads before the actual weaving process. This is why the ikat stage is the most difficult part of the entire process.
Image: “Spun yarn in which the figures are tied with palm leaves (kain ikat),” Flores 1948/49