Thursday, October 25, 2012

Patan Patola

I visited Pattan in Gujarat this August to check out the most prized sarees in all of India.
The Patan Patola.

Comparison - Single Ikat (lower half), double Ikat (upper half)
To understand Patola we must first understand the process of making ‘Ikat’ fabric.

Single Ikat – This is a resist-dye process where bound patterns (like in tie & dye) are applied to the ‘warp’ threads in keeping with the exact design that is desired later upon weaving these threads with extreme precisi
on. More the number of bindings and colours, more intricate & elaborate the design. The weft thread is of a plain colour without any bindings. Sambalpuri, Pochampalli, Rajkoti Patola are fine Indian examples of single Ikat work.


Double Ikat Patan Patola Saree threads before the weave
Double Ikat – Both warp & weft is dyed before the weaving begins. This requires expertise and pin-point accuracy as displacement of even one thread may result in a deformed pattern on the cloth.

They are so unique that they are the geographical indication tags for Gujarat as Patan Patolas and Andhra Pradesh as Bhoodan Pochampally. They were used in spice trade
Guatemala, India, Japan and Indonesia are famous for this kind of work.


Handcrafted Patola (also called Patolu) from Pattan is a heritage double Ikat fabric manufactured only for direct clients and delivered to them without any middleman by the Salvi family in Pattan, Gujarat. Any shop, show-room, emporium claiming to sell it is either selling a fake or second hand Patan Patola.

Key features-


1. Equal design and wearable on both sides. Even weavers can’t identify which is the front or back once the weaving is over.

2. Only 3 families in Pattan make them today, out of the original 700 families.

3. 3 people take 4 to 6 months to weave one saree which is 5.5 meters long and 48 inches wide.

4. No computers or power looms are used. Mental calculations, deep concentration, patience, undivided attention and a lot of hard work are the skill sets that make one saree.

5. The measurement tapes (which can measure up to 100th part of an inch) are the same which were invented 1000 years ago.

6. Made only in silk (patt is short for ‘Pattakalam’ which means silk in Sanskrit) as it lasts 80 to 100 years. They consider making it in cotton a waste of their time as it will tear in 40 to 50 years. 

Costliest Patan Patola Saree

7. Their cheapest saree starts at 1.5 lac rupees and takes 1.5 to 2 years for delivery. For people who do not want to spend that much they have options of Dupattas (40 to 50,000/- rupees) or handkerchiefs (3 to 4,000/- rupees). A good Patola costs Rs. 3 lacs.

8. Their costliest saree cost Rs 7 lac (above pic) which depicts the procession of Siddh Hemgranth. 12 to 15 people worked for 2.5 years to make it using materials required for making 27 normal Patola sarees.

9. Colours last for over 300 years.

10. They do use chemicals to dye for their lower end sarees but also use pure vegetable dyes for patrons who do not mind the escalated cost.

Trivia-

Three sarees being made at a time
It has a geographical indication tag. Nationally awarded. Patan Patola Postage stamp released on 15th Nov 2002. Sonia Gandhi wore one at the closing ceremony of CWG 2010 which has been handed down to her by Mrs. Indira Gandhi. International exposure has encouraged the weavers to not let this art disappear like the ‘Malmal of Dhaka’.

(As told by Mr. Mehul Salvi)

8 comments:

  1. Nice info and great snaps. Never heard of Ikat, I've heard of Bandhni, which is a handmade saree from Gujarat.

    Btw, one saree of 1.5 lacs with 300 years of durability can easily serve 5-6 generations!

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  2. Yeah like the 140 rupees Vimal saree is paying for itself as I use it as the second generation :)

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  3. Such an unearthly beauty.Never knew such finer details of this great fabric work!Thanks!

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  4. Such an unearthly beauty.Never knew such finer details of this great fabric work!Thanks!

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  5. You are welcome. Yes, ikat weaving is an art and test of mental alertness at the same time. Especially double ikat.

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  6. This is so overwhelming. As a saree wearer , a Patola is on my wishlist , but as they say Man chale par tattu na chale. Or If wishes were horses..........

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  7. Mine too. It has been on my wishlist for so long now. They are exquisite and so out of my reach that I simply sigh and aspire. Man chale par tattu chale na....what a lovely saying. Will keep it in mind. I am going through your blogs at the moment. Ragi upama yum yum.

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    1. Oh Yes , I'm in the business of sighing too. Specially when I see sarees. I wear one everyday and have a daily saree journal on Instagram , so more space , posts and opportunities of ogling at sarees . Plenty of patolas flitting by , though I'm sure they are not the real things.
      As for food , now experimenting with zero fat , vegan food.

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