If one could talk of a legend in weaves, Patola Silks would be the very epitome of it. Once an exclusive inheritance of royalty and aristocracy, patola sarees were and still are a prized possession, worn exclusively on special occasions like Vedic rituals and weddings. Patola sarees are considered sacred in a number of communities. These handwoven wonders are the product of months and years of tedious work and each piece in itself is unique as they can never be reproduced. Its immense value is not just because of its intricacy but also because of the tremendous amount of skill and perseverance that goes into making it.
Both the warp and the weft thread are dyed in double ikat Patolas. This means the weaving process requires that much more concentration and precision. Even a tiny mistake can ruin the entire design. Because of the unique technique, Patola sarees are reversible and look exactly the same on both sides. Often, even the weaver cannot tell the difference. They are also quite popular for their vibrant colours and geometric motifs.
Patola sarees make use of natural dyes like catechu, cochineal, indigo, turmeric, natural lakh, harde, madder roots, manjistha, Ratna Jyoti, Katha, kesudo, pomegranate skin, henna, marigold flower, etc in the colouring process. Alum, copper sulphate, ferrous sulphate, tin chloride, potassium dichromate and other mordents are also used, the result of which is vibrant colours dominated by patterns of bright red, dark green and yellow.
Be it the Jains, Hindus or Muslims, every community added its own value to the Patola silk. While the Jains prefer abstract designs and geometric patterns, the Ismaeli Shi’ite Muslims prefer the Vohra Gaji Bhaat and Gujarati Hindu women prefer the elephant, flower, girl, parrot and paan designs.
Based on their origin, there are essentially two varieties of Patola sarees – the Rajkot Patola and the Patan Patola. Rajkot Patolas are single ikat weaves that are vertically resist-dyed, while Patal Patolas are double ikat weaves that are horizontally resist-dyed. Needlessly to say, Patan Patolas are far more expensive as they are touted to be the most complicated textile design in the world. Both sides of the fabric have the exact same design and hence, you can wear a Patan Patola either way.
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