Patola sarees are exquisite sarees from Patan, Gujarat, traditionally woven for royalty only. The fineness of the fabric and complex weaving technique used made these sarees very expensive which is why only the richest merchants and noblewomen were able to afford them. To this date, the true Patola saree takes anything between 6 months to 2 years to weave, depending on the design and pattern. This ancient craft is still practiced by the Salvi family in Patan, who are the sole producers of the authentic Patola sari.
Though different versions of Patola silk sarees exist, in many parts of western and southern India, the original (and still considered the ‘purest’) are the Patan Patola sarees. These are double ikkat sarees, made by using one of the complicated weaving techniques in the world. The warp and weft threads are tied to resist the dye in order to achieve the final effect of the fabric and this process is repeated for every thread. This strategic knotting is what contributes to the unique texture of double ikkat sarees. They have an immensely rich color variation and great depth in the simplest of designs. Another distinguishing factor of the Patola silk saree is the type of design used. Inspired by natural and food related motifs, one can find artistic depictions and geometric shapes that simply cannot be imitated using any other technique. A Patan Patola saree takes a long time to craft and each saree is unique in its design and pattern. These sarees therefore tend to be quite expensive and are more appropriate for formal occasions. In fact initially Patola silk was so expensive and magnificently rich it was only worn by Gujarati noblewomen, who considered it a sign of royalty and affluence.
This saree is in fact a traditional saree of the state of Gujarat. In Gujarat, Patola sarees are known for their long life and the fastness of the dye. Thus this is the kind of saree women prefer to buy as a life-long investment, something that could even be passed down through the generations. It is said that a Patola of Gujarat may endure tears but not wear; thus, the color will never fade away.
The single ikkat technique can also be used to produce these outfits. Rajkot patola silk sarees are very beautiful, with artistic designs and a similarly multi-hued appearance, but tend to be more cost-effective. They are produced using much less labor-intensive techniques and utilizing more affordable materials. Rajkot patola sarees are a boon for modern women who want gorgeous sarees like these for less formal events.
Some of the common Patola saree designs include dancing girls, mangoes, parrots, peacocks, water cress, diamond patterns and floral spray. Traditional designs tend to be restricted to certain classic ethnic motifs inspired by nature but with the increasing innovations in fabrics and weaving, one can find newer, more western style Patola saree designs as well. In fact designers have, in the past, utilized this luxurious fabric to create gorgeous contemporary sarees with different types of designs.
Silk patola sarees come in a wide range of colors, from soft pastel shades to bright reds and blues. They are often multihued as well, with the subtle shifts in color being one of the main attractions of this saree style.
Wearing a Patola Sari
The sophistication and high-class vibe of the Patan patola silk saree demands a similarly superior set of accessories. Traditionally these sarees were accessorized by Indian jewelry sets, including necklaces, earrings, bangles, mang-tikkas and anklets. Gold jewelry matches well with the luxurious sheen of the patola saree and really brings out the beauty of the multi-hued designs. For a slightly more contemporary effect, tone down the jewelry by opting for simple pendants or large dangling earrings. A large chunky gold necklace with intricate Indian motifs matching the designs on the saree will look both glamorous and traditional.
In terms of the blouse, it is best to go with the classic half-sleeve silk blouse. The border on the blouse can pair with the designs on the patola silk saree while the color can be either complementary or matching. With the heaviest and richest Patan silk patolas, a vintage full-sleeve or three-fourth sleeve blouse will add a stately and refined beauty to the over-all look.
To complete the saree look, high heel sandals are essential. This really helps a fabric as graceful as Patola silk fall in just the right way and also creates an aura of glamour. For the handbag, the classic favorite with sarees is a clutch or a potli. With Patola silk sarees, brocade clutches and silk potlis will add the right amount of ethnic beauty.