Colors of the Oasis: Central Asian Ikats

Central Asian ikats are distinguished by bold, original designs using vibrant colors and are prized for their great beauty. In the streets of Central Asian oasis towns, a man’s clothing defined his status in society and proclaimed his wealth. In the home and during family ceremonies, ikat textiles provided luxurious embellishment. Today the influence of ikat designs can be seen in contemporary fashion and home décor.

These textiles derive their name from the technique used to create them, wherein bundled warps—and sometimes also the wefts—are bound and dyed several times before weaving, resulting in eye-catching designs in dazzling colors. Ikats display Central Asian artists’ and weavers’ attention to the harmony between design, color, and execution in order to create these master works.

It was through the generosity and foresight of the late Murad Megalli that this remarkable collection of Central Asian ikat textiles is available for the world to share in the appreciation of their beauty. Megalli, recipient of the 2010 Textile Museum Award of Distinction and museum trustee, donated his collection of nearly 200 spectacular nineteenth-century ikats to the museum. The exhibition was accompanied by a fully-illustrated color catalog.