From the striking indigo and white geometric forms of a Chilean Mapuche chief’s poncho to the delicate zigzag designs of a Bolivian Aymara weaving, Tied, Dyed and Woven presents the conceptual and technical mastery of ikat dyers and weavers from seven Latin American countries over the last 100 years. Their distinctive designs and methods offer historical clues into the innovative processes underlying the development of ikat practices, and attest to the significance of this resist-dye technique in the continuum of textile traditions.

The origin and history of ikat production in the Americas is not fully known, however there is intriguing evidence that this technique was practised in Ecuador and Peru pre-Conquest. The remarkable evolution of this craft is highlighted through two ikat traditions that exist today: one is associated with the weaving of ponchos in Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador, and the other with the weaving of women’s shawls in Ecuador, Mexico and Guatemala. Used for ceremonial and ritual occasions, ikat cloth encodes identity, history and change, as well as personal and cultural creative visions.

Tied, Dyed and Woven draws from the Textile Museum of Canada’s rich permanent collection and features contemporary work by artist Guillermo Bert (Chile), master dyer and weaver Arturo Estrada Hernández (Mexico), and weavers Laura Sánchez and Quispe Huamán Victoria (Peru). The exhibition examines interrelationships among ikat traditions in Latin America and explores the meaning and place of ikat in the design repertoires of these cultures. Beyond its continued importance in encoding cultural values within weaving communities, the technical and visual fluency of these ikat designs have also found popular currency in the global marketplace and in the worlds of fashion.