THE STORY OF PATAN PATOLA
Patan Patola is one of the most beautiful forms of weaves. Patola has a deep rooted history and is considered holy creation. Patola is a double ikat woven saree made in a village named Patan in Gujrat, hence the name Patan Patola. It is considered as the ‘ultimate manifestation of weaving perfection’. It takes the combined effort of six to seven weavers for four to six months to weave a single saree. The process to make one saree is of dying each strand separately before weaving them together. This unique weave, usually made from silk, is a double Ikat and combines the techniques of tying, dyeing and weaving. Also, the dyeing and the weaving process are extremely complicated, requiring mathematical precision coupled with a vivid imagination. The double Ikat weave means once the saree or fabric is woven, you cannot differentiate between the sides – the colour and the intensity, the feel and the look, are the same on both sides. There are only two families in Patan that weave these highly prized double ikat saris.
A BRIEF HISTORY
The art of double ikat weaving patola dates back to centuries. The craftsmen were originally from Maharashtra. Some say the Patola weavers were part of the spoils of a war which King Kumarapal of the Solanki dynasty won over the ruler of Jalan in Southern Maharashtra in 11th century and it is believed that they were invited by King Kumarapal who was known to have a deep interest in Patola.
WORDS FROM WISEMEN
Rohit Salvi, one of the master weaver who is carrying the family tradition forward has won several awards from the government of India for preserving this art and tradition and his sons are carrying the legacy forward.
“Patola weaving requires a lot of mental calculations, patience, undivided attention and dexterity of the hand. A computerized machine or power loom cannot be of much help here, “says Rohit bhai Salvi, a master craftsman, and a member of one of the two surviving families who are practicing the Patola weave. Rohit bhai belongs to the 16th generation of a family that has been pursuing this weaving art form.
The fact, however, is that 700-odd weaver families did migrate and began to call Patan their home. But today, according to Rohit bhai, “only two families are practicing the art of double Ikat where one is Rohit’s family, the other is also related to the Salvis.
The Patan Patolas were considered to be auspicious and worn by the royals. It is a symbol of prosperity and good luck. For the few who are preserving this art, it’s a tradition to be upheld for generations to come.
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.
To take forward this art many celebrities (likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Om Puri, Jaya Bachchan and many more) have come forward and have shown immense liking for the sarees and shawl produced.