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Ikats, knitting Majorca’s past

With striking colors and infinite geometric shapes, ikats have dressed Mallorcans for centuries. These fabrics, still handcrafted nowadays, are inspired in the designs that arrived in large ships coming from Asia on their way through the Silk Road.

Because of its strategic location, Mallorca became a key stop for ships moving through the commercial routes between Asia and Europe between the 500s and 800s. In their cellars, these ships carried multiple objects, spices and exotic trades, which in many occasions ended in the locals’ hands. That’s how Mallorcans discovered what was then known as flámulas, today called fabrics of flames.

They receive this name because of the strange and convoluted shapes of its design, which remind of the movement of flames when a fire is burning. As years passed, they have acquired an own character that portrays the Mediterranean winds, being considered an indigenous product of the area.

Nevertheless, as a result of the connection of the island with remote countries, some samples of the same type of fabrics have been found in places like Afghanistan, Indonesia, Colombia or Mexico. This technique was also used in Spain and the rest of Europe, but the fact of Mallorca being an island helped preserve it and conserve the tradition to our days.

Ikats are produced following a millenary technique based on dyeing the fibers by reserve. This means that they use knots in order for some parts of the thread not to be dyed. Once the dye has been applied, the piece starts to be knitted and the design starts appearing as the dyed threads take their place.

Unique designs made with natural threads

The tonalities, matching to perfection, and the fun patterns have been the cause that these fabrics have been used for so many different purposes. You can find them decorating windows, as a part of tapestry, or adding to the house’s decoration a very special mediterranean touch. The fabrics of flames also dress Mallorcans’ feet, since they’re used in the production of espadrilles.

However, nowadays there’s a shortage of workshops that still produce ikats in a traditional manner. One of the few that continues with their activity is Teixit Vicents, a family company specialized in the fabrication of fabrics of flames since 1854. Despite the passing of time, they still produce their fabrics the old way.

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In their studio, they prepare the white cotton to dye it looking for the perfect design, which they compose through the process mentioned before. The result is a unique and quality product, produced with natural threads (70% cotton and 30% linen).

In their factory they produce espadrilles, cushions, curtains and tablecloths that wear Mallorca’s seal of tradition and bright colors with geometric shapes.

This local product is one of the most important icons of the island. Not only for its tradition, but also for its beauty and value. Ikats or fabrics of flames are the best portrayal of Mallorca’s design and craftsmanship.

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