Posts Tagged ‘Patola’


COLORS OF GUJARAT: unparalleled, original and gorgeous! So are the colors of its rich textiles. Gujarat is home to some of the most exquisite handiwork of India.

A craft that is almost synonymous to the heritage of Gujarati textiles is the Patola (Sari) of Patan. Even before the invention of machines, this craft was developed with the help of insight and strength. It is believed that Patolas date back to the 4th century AD and the art originated in Patan, North Gujarat. The tie and dye has unique colors, techniques and designs that glorify Gujarat. The word Patola comes from the term ‘Patt’ that means a silk cloth in Tamil and Malayalam.


Patolas enjoy the luxury of being auspicious. Epics like the Ramayana and Narsinh Puran refer to the use of Patola in marriage ceremonies as a holy garment. Ramayana mentions that during the Ram-Rajya, King Janak had presented a Patola to Sita, the wife of Lord Ram. In addition, during the period of Lord Krishna, Narsinh Mehta had presented a Patola to Kunvarbai.

This traditional art received great patronage during the Chalukya period of King Kumarpal’s reign before about 800 years. King Kumarpal ruled Patan after Siddhraj Jaisingh. The King’s queen supposedly wore a new Patola daily. This is recorded in the autobiography of Kumarpal. It is also believed that he used a new Patola daily to offer prayers. Patola being made out of pure silk was acceptable by Jainism for worship. The King, hence, invited 700 families of Patola weavers from Jalna (South Maharashtra) to settle down in Patan and ever since Patolas are attached to Patan as an inseparable tradition.

Apart from these, some paintings in the famous Ajanta caves also resemble the tie and dye technique of Patolas.


Patola is often termed as the queen of all saris. They are one of the finest hand-woven qualities of textiles available in India. The style of Patola that is weaved in Patan is called ‘Double-Ikat’ (Ikat is an Indonesian word). The art is a tedious process, which takes days of hard work.

The Patolas are produced from thousands of years by the same process as it was before, until today. No technician or invention of machines is in a position to make a single percent modification in the technique and the process of preparing a Patola, as it is a special skill.

The technique involved in Patan Patola is that both the warp and the weft threads are tied in areas where the original is to be retained and then dyed. They continue to tie the threads from the lighter color to the darker color until the final pattern is dyed on to the unwoven thread. After this both tied and dyed weft and warp threads are woven and the design emerges. This is known as Patola. The ‘Double-Ikat’ style is different as here, the warp and weft is the tied and dyed before they are woven. The pattern emerges as the warp is laid out and then is brilliantly outlined when the weft is thrown across.

Tying-untying, retying and dyeing in different shades are the main features of this process that is done in a manner that the knotted portions of the thread do not catch color. It is very complex and meticulous.


The peculiar way of preparing the warp and weft used in Patolas, gives it an appearance of double cloth though it is single with the same colors in particular design on both the sides.

Traditionally pure silk and natural dyes were used to prepare Patolas. However, since about last 100 years, tradition had given way to the use of fast-to-bleach and easy-to-dye chemical colors. Therefore, the use of natural dyes in Patola is discontinued. Since last twenty years, the old traditions have made a comeback due to their eco-friendliness and with a view to maintain the heritage.

The re-introduced vegetable materials are Turmeric, Marigold Flower, Onion Skin, Pomegranate Rinds, Madder, Lac, Catechu, Cochineal, Indigo along with different mordant like Alum, Tin Chloride, Ferrous Sulphate, Copper Sulphate, Tennic Acid, Oxalic Acid, Potassium Dichromate etc. The colors OF Patola are so fast that there is a popular Gujarati saying about the Patola saris that “The Patola may tear, but the color will not fade.” Some of the natural, vegetable colors are Wax, Indigo, Pomegranate Bark, Katho, Majith, Kapilo, Alum, Kirmaj, Harsingar, Bojgar, Iron Rust, Logware, Turmeric etc.

Essentially the designs in a Patola are based on traditional motifs called “Bhat”. The main Patola designs are pan bhat – leaf design, ratan chok bhat – jewel square, popat kunjar bhat – parrot and elephant design, nari kunjar bhat – woman and elephant design, chhabadi bhat – basket design and vohra gali bhat – pattern preferred by Vohra Muslims. Originally, Patola was woven in four distinct styles. For Jains and Hindus, it was done in Double Ikat style with all over patterns of flowers, parrots, dancing figures and elephants. For the Muslim Vohra community, wedding saris were woven with geometric and floral designs. For Maharashtrian Brahmins, Nari Kunj saris of plain, dark-color body and borders, with women and birds were woven. Lastly, there were exclusive saris woven for the traditional export markets in the Far East.

The designs, which may comprise floral, animal or human motifs, are first drawn on paper to achieve accuracy.


One of them is the Salvi community. The products of the Patola loom are predominantly sari lengths, which are among the most famous textiles in the world. These Double Ikat textiles were woven in Patan, Surat and other centers, but there are now only about two families of Jains weaving them in Patan. Cheaper Patola imitations are woven in Single Ikat at Rajkot, Saurashtra and in both single and double Ikat in Andhra Pradesh in the south.


The process of coloring the threads takes nearly 75 days, followed by 3-4 months by 4-5 artisans to weave just one sari. A weaver can weave only 5-6 inches within a day. After working for 10-12 hours a day, no holidays and a group working together, it takes almost one and half year to complete a Patola sari.

For preparing Patola, skilled labor, precision, calculation and patience are of utmost importance. As a result, a Patola sari costs high but as it gets older its cost increases inspite of decreasing. One sari under normal use lasts for 80-100 years. Therefore, it is considered as an ornament and a priceless dignity, even today.


The unique artisanship of Patola is not only appreciated but also conferred with many awards. – National Award in 1983 by the then President Shri Zail Singh
– Master crafts persons awards in 1965, 1978, 1987, 1997
– Government of India has launched ‘Patan Patola’s postage stamp of Rs. 5/- on 15th November, 2002
– Award by National Innovation Foundation on 5th January, 2005 given away by Shri Abdul Kalam
– Best Award in Handicraft Works in 2006 given by Shri Narendra Modi
– Introduced at the international exhibition held in UK in September 2009 as a part of Swarnim Gujarat

These awards on an individual basis and community basis have boosted the morale of the artisans to a great level.


The mention of Patan’s Patola in various folk and traditional songs has made Patolas a unique identity of Patan. It has put Patan on the world map, making Patolas not only a pride of Gujarat but also that of India.

‘Chhellaji re mare hatu Patan thi Patola mongha laavjo…’ is a very famous folk-song in which a wife puts forward her demand for an expensive Patola to her husband. Just like the popularity of the song, the fame and charm of Patolas is unrivalled even today.

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