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Woven Vibrance of Patan Patola

The designs commonly found on Patan patolas have remained constant for centuries. The main designs found on this fabric are the Nari Kunjar, the Ratanchawk, the Phul bhat and the Navratna. Other popular motifs include Voragaji, Chhabdi Bhat, Chokhta Bhat, Chanda Bhat, Pan Bhat, Phul Bhat, Laheriya Bhat, Tarliya Bhat, Zumar Bhat, Sankal Bhat, Diamond Bhat, Star Bhat, Butta Bhat and Sarvariya Bhat.

The Nari Kunjar is the motif of an elephant, made of gopinis. Lord Krishna is seen riding this elephant in many patolas.

Undaali borders dyed naturally
Undaali borders dyed naturally

The Ratan Chown Bhat has floral motifs in geometrical form. Akhrot Bhat is comprised of walnut motifs, while Popat Kunjar has parrot motifs. Mahras Bhat has motifs of dancing women.

A pattern of two elephants
A pattern of two elephants

Navratna motif in yellow   Navratna motif in green
L: Navratna motif in yellow
R: Navratna motif in green

The dyes originally were natural and the continued use of these dyes has proved beneficial for producer communities in every way. Patolas have been acknowledged and supported in the international arena because of the eco-friendly nature of dyeing and printing. Wax, indigo, pomegranate bark, katho, majith, kapilo, alum, kirmaj, harsingar, bojgar, iron rust, logware and turmeric are the different natural dyes that have been put to use. In the current times, however, chemical dyes are also used sometimes due to the ease of application in comparison to the extraction and use of natural dyes.

Patan patola with animal motifs  Human and animal motifs
L: Patan patola with animal motifs
R: Human and animal motifs

A patola saree lasts for about 80 - 100 years under normal usage. These sarees might wear down if worn frequently, but the colours are believed to be so fast that the motifs should remain intact for an extremely long time. This is due to the use of double resist horizontal dyeing process for the patolas. The value of a patola saree increases as it gets older, instead of diminishing, due to the high acclaim that it upholds. Patolas have become a prized posession because of this esteem and longetivity.


Images: Reading Cloth, Patan Patola, Wikipedia, Craft of Gujarat