The creation of every opulent Patan patola is a great skill in itself, acquired by the artisans from their age old traditions of spinning and weaving. Made in pure silk, these sarees are the ultimate manifestation of weaving perfection that has been attained over several centuries.
A magnificent Patan patola saree showing its delicate drape
The town of Patan is located in the state of Gujarat, outside Ahmedabad. The silk cloth with double Ikat patterns is considered to be holy and possess miraculous powers of attracting prosperity. These sarees were also mentioned in a 2000 year old Jain holy book, the 'Kalpsutra'.
The making of a Patan patola
The making of Patan patola sarees is extremely laborious and requires anywhere between five months to one year to create a single saree. Four to five family members work in unison, delicately weaving the unique creation. Another feature of these hand-dyed patolas which makes them stand out is that the feel and look of the fabric is exactly the same from both sides. This is due to the use of horizontal double-resist technique of dyeing in the process of colouring the fabric. The use of natural dyes makes it very eco-friendly, garnering even more applause for the technique.
L: A floral motif on Patan patola
R: A motif on Patan patola depicting elephants
The art of Ikat weaving is also practiced in different parts of the country, but patolas from Patan are hailed as the most exquisite among them. This skill of ikat weaving has spread to several parts of South-East and Central Asia, producing different variations of the same technique. Patan patolas have taken several forms in the past, appearing as sarees, stoles, scarves and handkerchiefs. An indulgence for the elite, these sarees depict a slice of the region in which they are created. The extraordinary levels of skill required in the creation of fine patola makes them highly prized, and it is unsurprising for them to be passed down as heirlooms.
L: A traditional border with geometric motifs
R: Patan patola saree with zari border
Though the popularity of these sarees has drastically reduced over the past few decades, this exquisite craft is being restored to its original stature by the building of a Patola museum with the help of the younger members of the producer community.
A double ikat Patan patola saree
Images: Art Gallery of New South Wales, UINU, Patan Patola, Ikat, Appleblossomy, Wikipedia