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CRAFTS OF INDIA / IKAT / TRADITIONAL TRIVIA
IKAT

Patola, the woven fabric of a coarser variety was the prime element of export to Southeast Asia and the Dutch Indies. So engrained was the Patola as a ritualistic and royal symbol in the Malayan archipelago that it was called MengIkat there, a title later shortened by the Indonesians to Ikat which became the internationally accepted nomenclature for this weave form. Indian and Indonesian examples typify highly precise double Ikat. Especially prized are the double Ikats woven in silk known in India and Indonesia as patola (singular: patolu). These were typically from Gujarat (Cambay) and used as prestigious trade cloths during the peak of the spice trade.

The origins of the Patola can be traced back to Gujarat’s Solanki royal family who invited weavers from Jalna, now in the state of Maharashtra to settle in Patan and explore the full potential of the weave construction. Here changes were also made on the existing looms requiring two people to operate it and the creativity of the Patola incorporated Gujarati sensibilities and design variations. It borrowed heavily from the geometrical yantric configurations of Solanki architecture such as the Udaymati Vav at Patan. Today, a few families at Patan have kept alive the double Ikat sheer poetry of the intermingling warp and weft of silken music that is the Patolu of covetous desire.

The history, skill and aura created by this amazing creation in silk has made it an item worth the wait as each sari is an individual work of art taking anything between three to six months to complete.