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Meet the Weavers of Patan Patola

The Salvi community involved in the creation of Patan Patolas are the residents of Patan, Gujarat. They were brought to the region by the Rajput nobility who captured various parts of the region and invited the skilled weavers of the region to Patan, under their patronage. The community successfully flourished as traders in Gujarat and beyond, even after their supporters, the Rajputs, ceased to exist.

A woman belonging to the Salvi community
A woman belonging to the Salvi community

The name of the Salvi community is derived from the word sal, which is associated the sal loom. They are also referred to as the Patliwala community or the Patua community. These people are of South Indian origin, originally from Maharashtra and Karnataka, and then brought to Gujarat. This migration has enabled them to create masterpieces combining different aesthetic tastes and sensibilities.

A craftsman at the loom
A craftsman at the loom

The community is traditionally associated with the art of weaving silk. The qualities of patience, attention to detail and excellence have been passed down through generations, as have the technical skills of weaving Patan patolas.

A traditional Patan patola woven by the community
A traditional Patan patola woven by the community

Artisans discuss the next steps in the weaving of Patan patola   An artisan prepares for weaving
L: Artisans discuss the next steps in the weaving of Patan patola
R: An artisan prepares for weaving

The families that were initially involved in the creation of Patan patolas have gradually moved to less taxing jobs, causing the production of these sarees to dwindle. Currently, only three or four families are dedicated to the making Patan patolas. The others have found occupation elsewhere in order to sustain their families.

An animal motif commonly used on Patan patolas
A pattern used for Patan patolas

The tag of Geographical Indication (GI) has been given to the patolas being produced by the families residing in Patan, in order to give a boost to the dwindling craft and combat the market being flooded with imitations. The patola of Patan uses eight ply silk, while the imitations do not. Since Patan patola is the most unique of all ikats, deeming it as a Geographical Indication has helped to bring back awareness of the high technical skill required for the craft, as well as boosting sales all over the world.

 

Images: Tourtravelworld, Gaatha, Milaap, Indiamart, Trekearth