Legend of Ikat

Once upon a time one of the rulers of Margilan (a city founded by Alexander the Great and an important stop on the Silk Road), decided to get married for the 5th time. His choice fell on a young lady – daughter of a poor weaver. The father felt upset and didn’t want to give his daughter in marriage to the king and begged the monarch to cease his interest in his daughter. The king promised that he would fulfil the weaver’s wish only under one condition – the poor were to create something unusual and unique by dawn that would make the king forget the beauty of the young daughter.

Sore in heart and mind, the poor weaver sat on the bank of a river when all of a sudden he saw in the water the reflection of clouds, coloured in rainbow dyes after the rain. “Oh dear sky, thank you for the idea!” he exclaimed and ran home to make the idea a reality.

By the morning, based on the silhouette he had seen in the reflection, he weaved an extraordinary textile – light and airy like a cloud, cool like fresh mountain air and iridescent of all rainbow colours.

The young lady’s father presented the textile to the king. He was stunned by its magical beauty and asked the weaver how he produced such a garment. The weaver responded, “I took green of foliage washed by rain, added colour of tulip-petals, blush of dusk, blue of night sky, the glare of the sun in the running water of the river, scintillation of the eyes of my beloved daughter, and mixed everything.”

This textile was named “˜han-atlas” (the king’s silk) or ikat as it is known today, and the daughter was given in marriage to king’s son. Silk ikat garments were the height of fashion in XIX century Uzbekistan and a symbol of wealth and status.