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.
The first step involves tying of the yarn with cotton thread according to the pattern that has been decided. The tying of yarn is done by an experienced master artist as it is an intricate and time consuming process. Measurements can be as small as 1/100th of an inch and requires careful scrutiny. The yarn undergoes multiple cycles of tying and dyeing, following a specific order of colours.
Displacement of even a single yarn can disturb the design arrangement and make the entire set of yarns redundant. Every colour has a unique place in the saree and the design has to be carefully aligned while weaving. Such intricacy requires extreme precision and patience. A unique feature of the Patola loom is that it is tilted to one side and requires two people to sit and work together on just one saree. It can take six months to a year or even more, depending on the length as well as the intricacy of the pattern to make one of these Patola sarees.
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.
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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