The ancient art of patola weaving (double Ikkat ), dating back to the 4th century AD originated in Patan, Gujarat. Epics like Ramayana and Narsinha Purana refer to the use of patola in marriage ceremonies as an auspicious garment. This traditional art received great patronage during the Chalukya period. The most time consuming and elaborate saree created in the western region is which has intricate five-colour designs resist-dyed into both warp and weft threads before weaving, resulting in a completely reversible fabric.
The process itself has never left the area of its origin – although imitations do exist. The final product is available in an array of beautiful, bright colors, and that the weave is pretty tight, and a closely knit one, that’s often complemented by bright, Indian motifs and designs. It is used as a bridal wear in Gujarat. In almost all Patolas, the entire body of sari is patterned and combinations of designs are used in borders and pallav. A few have double Ikat borders and pallav with single coloured plain body.
Their distinctive repetitive, often geometric designs fall into three types
- purely geometric forms reminiscent of Islamic architectural embellishments and ajrak (complex geometric print designs of the (sind), such as the navaratna bhat (nine jewels design);
- floral and vegetable patterns which, like the former, catered to the needs of the Muslim market which eschewed depictions of animals and people, such as the Vobra bhat (Vohra community design), paan bhat (paan leaf or peepal tree leaf design) and chhaabdi bhat (floral basket design); and
- designs depicting such forms as the nari (dancing women), kunjar (elephant) and popat (parrot). Patola made for the South-East Asian market often had large triangular tumpals resist-dyed into the endpiece, a pattern missing from most patola made for the Indian market. Only the Vohra Muslims used a version of it in their wedding sarees.
A silk ikat saree industry has recently developed in Rajkot (Gujarat) that creates patola and modern geometric designs in the weft threads only: Because so much less labour is involved in making these sarees, they are considerably cheaper than the double-ikat patola.
The tie and dye weave method is resulting in identical pattern on both sides of fabric. Red, Yellow, Green, Black, and White are traditional colours used in weaving.
The basic patterns which are mostly used; are of plant, zoomorphic and geometrical motifs. The most popular designs are Narikunjar, Pan Bhat, Fulwagh and Chaokadhi Bhat using motifs of flowers and birds.
The most found designs are:
- Chhabdi Bhat: Basket pattern.
- Fulvadi Bhat: Flowering pattern.
- Ratanchowk Bhat: Jewel mosaic- includes floral elements.
- Pann Bhat: Pipal leaf pattern.
- Akhrot Bhat: Walnut motifs.
- Nari Bhat: Women and Elephants designs.
- Wagh Bar Hathi Bhat: Consisting of tigers and 12 Elephants.
- Vohra Cheer Bhat: A geometrical pattern usually worn by Vohra Muslims at wedding and auspicious days.
- Maharas Bhat: Women dancing a typical Gujarati folk dance.