Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Celebrated Double Ikat Weavers of Patan


The fabric you are about to see took three and a half years to make, and so the creators tell me it will never be done again. If these men lived in Japan they would surely be declared living national treasures. They are certainly well honoured here in India and internationally.

Their workshop is on the pilgrimage route of any self respecting textile enthusiast, and as the visitors book proves they have regularly and enthusiastically welcomed guests from all over the world since the 1940’s.

I was greeted by the youngest member of the family who gave me a very comprehensive explanation of their work in excellent English. Their family has been weaving in the same spot since the 12th century, when legend says that King Kumarpal invited 700 families of Patola weavers to settle in Patan.

Today they are the last family in the area to weave using this age old technique. Every aspect of the cloth is created in their studio, from the point when the un-spun silk arrives from China, to the finished woven cloth. The dying process takes the longest. Both the warp and weft threads are tie-dyed,  in many cases several times - each time moving the ties to create the often complex motif. 

With each woven fabric (which are generally wedding saris) taking 4 to 6 months to make, there is no question of buying off the peg! If you would like to order now you will have to wait around 6 years.




The two Salvis (weavers) working together weave about 8 to 9 inches a day



A warp in preparation ties attached ready for its first dye bath, underneath on the stool is the pattern they are following for this particular cloth.



The dye area, only natural dyes have been used here for the last 30 years.


An ancient incredibly detailed patola (as these ikats are called) preserved behind glass.


800 year old vegetable dye 'the design laid down in patola may be torn but it shall never fade'

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