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Patola weaving is said to be a study of patience and precision. Unsurprising, considering that the process is a prolonged one, spanning four to seven months, entailing the efforts of three people. Every colour chosen has a particular role to play in the entire palette; there is no room for error and adjustment. Measurements may be as minute as 1/100th of an inch. And, depending on the intricacy and length, may take up to a year!
Little wonder, then, that this craft, dating back to the 12th century, is a closely guarded family business. Indeed, even today, these ikat sarees are woven by a very select group of artisans, well-versed but tight-lipped with the craft.
Typically, these ikat sarees are gorgeous, multi-hued canvases representing abstract designs and geometric patterns. Elephants, human figures, kalash, flowers, shikhar, paan and parrots as well as designs inspired by the architecture of Gujarat are popular. The most sought-after designs each carry unique names like nari kunjar bhat (women and elephant patterns), paan bhat (peepul leaf motif) navratna bhat (square-shaped pattersn), voharagaji (inspired by the Vohra community), fulvali bhatt (floral) and rattanchowk bhat (geometric).
Truly, these ikat print masterpieces are not just six yards of pure, unadulterated love for the craft, but a dizzying mathematical process!