India, the land of kings and kingdoms, studded with so much of cultural history. The entire world perceives India as the land of colours while the rest of the world looks pretty bland in comparison. Our history seems the most colourful during the monarchy age. Whims and fancies of the kings of the South, North, East and West added more colour to Indian culture. Kings of different dynasties helped promote art by providing patronage to weavers, builders and artists. One of them was one from the Solanki Dynasty, Raja Kumarpal.
Raja Kumarpal – The best known Patola connoisseur!
He adored the weave so much that he invited 700 weaver families to come and settle down in Patan, Gujarat. The Patola weave was already famous then but the fact that a king asked families to shift to his kingdom for it, gave it even more impetus! These silk sarees are still very important to Gujarat. Women from Jain, Nagar Brahmin and Vohra communities of Gujarat still wear Patola sarees. Ever since the weaver families resided here, Gujarat has accepted ‘Patola Patan’ as part of its culture. They form a part of the Gujarati Bride’s trousseau! Patola holds huge cultural importance in Indonesia as well. What makes this weave so special?
These sarees belong to the double Ikat family. This means the designs on the saree are reflected on both sides. They resemble Sambalpuri sarees which also belongs to the double Ikat family. They’re different from Sambalpuri because the designs on Patola are more precise and sharp as compared to Sambalpuri sarees.
Making of a Patola Saree
- There are separate dyeing processes for the warp and the weft. The method of dyeing used is the resist-dyeing process in which cotton threads are tied to the warp/weft and then dyed. The cotton threads are retied many times to create different kinds of patterns.
- The threads of the dyed warp are put together on the loom thus bringing the newly created design in full view. The weft threads are tied to the bobbins, ready to weave.
- A hand-woven loom is used to weave the Patola. It contains a bamboo shuttle that moves to and fro the warp threads and each weft thread is matched with the warp design.
- Weavers maintain the precision by carefully controlling the warp and the weft threads. This takes up a lot of time, patience and dexterity.
A famous Gujarati proudly states :-
“Padi Patole Bhat Fate Pan Fate Nahi.” which translates to:
A Patola Saree might tear but its designs will remain intact. This is how seriously Patola weavers take the Patola Patan! Imagine the powerful thinking that goes behind the making a Patola come alive!
Patola holds sanctified significance in Gujarat. India as a country holds its traditions dear so it comes as no surprise that the same goes for articles associated with its holy rituals. The designs on these sarees are, therefore, handled very carefully. Unlike most other textiles, Patola’s motifs are very sharp and carefully constructed. It takes a lot of mathematical precision, imagination and advance planning to weave a Patola Saree. This is why they’re geometrically and aesthetically pleasing. The motifs include depictions of flora and fauna in geometric shapes in bright hues. Delicate floral or ornamental graphics decorate the pallav.
Specialty of a Patola Saree
Do you know the most fascinating thing about Patola Sarees? Today, these sarees are only woven by 3 families. The Salvi family, who’s the most prominent, continues to reside in Patan. They pass on the esoteric weaving knowledge from one generation to another and has been in the profession since the last 35 generations! This exclusivity makes the weave more special!