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Patolas of Patan – Double Ikkat most Complex Textile

As being Gujarati, from childhood  I am hearing  folk song ‘Chhelaji Re Mare Hatu Patan thi Patola Mongha Lavjo’ means ‘O my dear, Do Bring the Precious Patola Sari from Patan for me’!. As like this song, charm and fame of hand-woven Patola is also same today.

India has rich ancient heritage in textiles. The double Ikkat Patola Sarees of Patan also glorifies the heritage in terms of gorgeous colors, design and durability. Each and every thread is individually colored and put together to obtain beautiful design, so that not a single piece can be reproduced due to intricacy of work. It is not just an ordinary Sari after all; it tops the handicraft in the world. It is epitome of luxury as tremendous hard work and skills goes in making it.

History behind Patola:

A double Ikat weave, Patola saris originated in the town of Patan in Gujarat; former capital of Gujarat. It is believed that the 12th century ruler, King Kumarpal of solanki dynasty used to wear Patola silk for his daily worship. He was wearing new Patola silk as Dhoti everyday which was supplied from the parts of Mahrashtra to Patan. The silk weavers of the salvi caste from the Maharashtra were involved in weaving it.

After that when the King conquered the parts of Maharashtra, he had invited all 700 silk weavers living in Jalna, Maharshtra to come and settle down in Patan, Gujarat. From that time onward Patolas are made in Patan only. The King Kumar Pal popularized  Patolas by donning them for all festivities and significant occasions. After the decline of Solanki Empire, Patola silk became popular among Gujarati women as a sign of rich social status.Today only three Salvi families are involved in this precious Patola weaving art.

As I moved from Rani ki Vav towards Main cross-road, modern building grabbed my attention. The building named as ‘Patola Museum’; unfortunately it was closed at that time and I inquired for Patola weaving workshop. The museum is dedicated to familiarize the tourists for Patola making process.

The road beside the Patola museum led towards the workshop of one of the Salvi family. I was keen to understand how they do this complex process.

Difficult Weaving Process:

As I saw, it was about forming and arranging threads, tyeing and dyeing and then adjusting it on yarn to weave majestic Patola. As it looks simple; but it is the most complicated process I ever seen.

First of all, design graph is made as per the requirement of customer or designer. Then comes to choose the thread. Mostly Patolas are made using silk thread as cotton fade away with the time. They are generally imported from Bangalore or china.

These threads are set in particular number like six threads or eight threads to make weft. After that knots of cotton thread are made on warp and weft as per the pattern decided. The tying is done by experienced master artist as it involves intricate complex process. The pre calculation of where the dye should come on the warp/weft, for it to accurately form an overlap with the same or different colored stretch on the second weft/warp to weave a majestic textile called double Ikkat fabric. What a genius mind the artists have!!

After making knots on warp and weft, it undergoes multiple processes of dye and tie following specific orders of colours. The tied portion is meant to remain unexposed to the color while dyeing. United portion, which has absorbed one colour, may be tied while dyeing in another color. Tying, untying, re-tying and dyeing in different shades are the main features of this process.

After completion of dyeing work,it put together in a sequence on the loom and threads are separated using needle so that the design becomes visible. The process is highly laborious, time-consuming and requires a high amount of skills, precision and patience. Even a smallest mistake will make design unfinished.

The unique feature of the sari is that three differently skilled craftsmen work on one sari; they can weave just about 8 to 9 inch in a day. It can take six months to a year depending on the length and intricacy of design to make one Patola Saree.

Colours:

The person at workshop led us towards a room where dyes were stored. He informed that natural colours are made out of natural resources and plants like indigo, kesudo, pomegranate skin, turmeric, henna, marigold flower etc. Today modern chemical dyes are also used to make rich vibrant colours like red, dark green etc due to cost and efficiency concerns.

Designs:

A gujarati folk song “Padi Patola Bhat,Fatey Pan Fite Nai’ (means Patola can tear off but its design will not); that shows the richness of the colour and design that is used in Patola. Each saree can survive over century without losing colour and grandeur!!!

The designs that were used during King Kumarpal are still alive today in making Patolas. Be it the Jains, Hindus or Muslims, every community added its own value to the Patola silk. While the Jains prefer geometric patterns, the Bohra Muslims prefer the Vohra Gaji Bhaat and Gujarati Hindu women prefer the elephant, flower, parrot and Paan designs.

Speciality of Patola:

Both the warp and the weft thread are dyed in double ikat Patolas. Because of the unique technique, Patola sarees are reversible and look exactly the same on both sides. Both the sides have same colour and design; you can wear it on either way. Hence it is said to be most complicated textile design in the world.

Patola Sarees and Art Today:

This precious Patola saree is priced at INR 100000-150000 and up which makes it favourite among celebrities and their designers. Designer Gaurang Shah Showcase this art at many of his shows. This declining art form has transcribed to shawls, scarves, duppatas and handkerchief to introduce among wider audience.

As Patola being a precious piece, ordinary people cannot afford to buy it. Today single ikkat Patola imitations are flooded in market with chemicals dyes that is replacing natural dyes which is threatening to genuine Patola weaving art. There aren’t many weavers who are expert at this art and few numbers of weavers make the weaving process tedious and long. The younger generations has to be trained in preservation of such beautiful and heritage crafts.

But despite of so many facts, till today Patola remains priced possession in women’s wardrobe.

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Mayuri Patel

I am solo female traveler from India who is sharing experiences of her travel on the blog

29 thoughts on “Patolas of Patan – Double Ikkat most Complex Textile

  • March 20, 2018 at 16:20
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    These sarees are pieces of art.
    It was interesting to learn about the processes involved. Thank you. 🙂

    Reply
    • March 21, 2018 at 16:20
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      Hey Tahnk you for the read.Agree that it is precious art.

      Reply
  • March 21, 2018 at 16:20
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    Its an amazing art. It looks very tough process and would hear more about some this places and other art like “bandhni”. Thank you, Mayuri

    Reply
  • April 4, 2018 at 16:20
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    Saw many homes that are involved in Patan for Patola weaving. And yes they are expensive….i didn’t buy one 🙁

    Reply
    • April 11, 2018 at 16:20
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      yeah Shoma, I couldn’t buy it too
      even scarf was expensive at price 25K

      Reply
  • April 16, 2018 at 16:20
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    That is such a special post with fascinating details and photographs too.

    I’ll touch base with you for the Gujarat trip this winter 🙂

    Reply
    • April 19, 2018 at 16:20
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      Ohh ya sure Shubham, Come soon here
      Patola weaving centre is must visit if you are in Patan. Its such complex textile weaving and glad to know about it.

      Reply
  • April 16, 2018 at 16:20
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    I will rather go on a trip to Europe than buy a saree 😀

    Reply
    • April 17, 2018 at 16:20
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      Yess Mam, agree that.I am also not Saree person and even don’t like to waste money on such expensive stuff rather would love to invest in travels.

      Reply
  • August 9, 2018 at 16:20
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    That is one of my fav garbas! I love Patola saree and how rich it looks no matter which age and when! I have semi patola obviously because of the cost but someday I’ll have the real deal, hopefully 🙂

    Reply
  • August 9, 2018 at 16:20
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    This is so interesting. I had no idea weaving could be so intricate! I suppose it explains why the textiles are all so beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • August 9, 2018 at 16:20
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      yeah, it is one of the most complicated textile that comes at big price!!

      Reply
  • August 9, 2018 at 16:20
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    These designs are gorgeous! I have so much respect for someone who can do this. I wouldn’t have the skills or the patience!

    Reply
    • August 10, 2018 at 16:20
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      Definately, skilled workers are now less.It requires patience too.

      Reply
  • August 9, 2018 at 16:20
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    incredible the amount of work that goes into this. I could never have imagined how long it would take to make these pieces. It means to much more that any one piece could never be duplicated.

    Reply
    • August 10, 2018 at 16:20
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      Yeah, agree that..This is the unique charecteristic of Patola sarees.

      Reply
  • August 9, 2018 at 16:20
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    This is so interesting! I can see why it’s so expensive, 6 months to a year to make one Patola Saree, that’s long. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  • August 9, 2018 at 16:20
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    I totally agree with the previous commenters! This is much more like art than something to wear…but that makes it more awesome, as you’d be a walking work of art when dressed in this!!

    I love that you got to see how these materials are woven. What a cool experience!!

    Reply
  • August 9, 2018 at 16:20
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    Wow!!! I’m a sucker for good textile. I would have spent ALL my money there lol. I spent soo much when I was in Mexico too. I just love seeing other cultures through fabric.

    Reply
  • August 9, 2018 at 16:20
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    Very pretty and definitely interesting how they are made. Not sure it’s something I would buy though hehe

    Reply
  • August 10, 2018 at 16:20
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    This is the most amazing textile I have ever learnt about. It was an incredible visit to the Salvi House of Patola making. You have described the details and experiences quite well. Thanks for making me relive the memory.

    Reply
    • August 10, 2018 at 16:20
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      yeah I loved visiting it.How can I forget those days!!

      Reply

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