Left Udaipur for Rann of Kutch. Made a hot cuppa coffee in French Press using freshly ground beans – Peaberry Arabica from south of India. Perfect start to day.
First stop Patan. To check out Patola sarees, a famed tradition of Gujarat. Only Rohit Salvi’s family makes the real thing now. Or so he claims.
Back in 11th century, 700 families were engaged in Patola art under patronage of Solanki kings who ruled from Patan. They were invited to migrate from Jalna in south Maharashtra and settle here.
Over time, artisans migrated or sought alternate professions, and the art has since then become near extinct.
Patola was always coveted – a folk song sung by women for their traveling husbands in Gujarat: “O my dear! Do bring the precious Patola from Patan for me.” The same song in Gujarati: “Chhelaji re, mare hatu Patan thi Patola mongha lavjo.”
Traveller Ibn Batuta presented kings with Patolas to gain their friendship. These also found their way to Malaysia, Indonesia and other South-East Asian countries.
One saree takes 4-6 months to make. And costs Rs. 150 – 400 grand (US$ 3000-8000). Salvis booked for 6 years. Book now, price will remain as agreed upon.
Two Salvis manage to progress only 8-9 inches a day on a cloth 48 inches wide. It is woven on a slanting hand operated harness loom made of teakwood and bamboo strips.
If you got a Patola saree that is cheaper than that, then it may not be the real thing. Sorry folks, your treasure of Patola may not be as ‘treasured.’
Rohit Salvi says anyone who claims to make Patola is not doing it the true way. Technique called ‘Double Ikat,’ others follow ‘Single Ikat.’
Patola art lies is colouring silk threads by ‘tie and dye’ or Bandhani method in a way that they make desired pattern at weaving stage. You gotta see it to understand this.
There is no reverse side – both sides have the same intensity of colour and design.
Natural vegetable dyes are used, some raw materials include turmeric, marigold flowers, onion skin, pomegranate bark, madder, lac, catechu, cochineal and indigo.
A design is repeated only once in many years. The design for the wall piece that was work in progress when I visited was being repeated after 150 years.
Will Patola art die after Rohit Salvi’s generation? No, the next generation is already in – despite being trained as architects etc. Expects others to take the baton.
True Patola comes with the promise of natural colours to last hundreds of years even if fabric tears. A framed piece on the wall is 300 years.
Can’t non-family members be trained to make Patola? Rohit Salvi says they sent some for training, but they turned art into imitation. Let charity begin and end at home.
Rohit Salvi’s family has been living on the same spot for over 900 years. Wow! Some record. They sure take pride in their art, and it shows the way they show you around.
Recommended read: The Patola of Gujarat by Swiss writers Alfred Buhler and Eberhard Fischer. They took 34 years to complete book in 1979.
Contact: +91.2766.232274 / 231369, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.patanpatola.com. When you are in Patan, ask anyone for Patola sarees and everyone directs you to the same place.
Ajay Jain is currently on the Great Arabian Sea Drive, starting from Delhi and following the coastline all the way from Gujarat down to Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Follow all updates on:
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