Patola Techniques

Patola is created by tying and dying a pattern into both the warp and weft threads, which are laboriously aligned during the weaving process.

Once wound onto tying frames, both sets of threads are first tied to cover all areas that will be reserved white or later dyed yellow, green or blue, then the thread is removed from the tying frames and dyed in red.

The threads are returned to the frame and tied to resist areas not to be dyed yellow, then removed and dyed in yellow, and so on. Tying is done with wetted cotton, and the craftsmen wrap a forefinger to protect their skin as they repeatedly pull the cotton tight enough to resist the dye.

  

Unlike the mudmee tying that I saw in Laos and Thailand, here a graphed pattern was used as an aid during tying and measurements were charcoaled onto the threads.

  

Only two sari lengths of thread are tied at the same time, in order to make a more precise pattern with this smaller volume of thread being bound. There are 250 threads in each tie.


Once dyeing is completed, the threads are mounted on a loom that is operated by two weavers sitting side by side. The loom is angled to allow the weaver on the right to better see that the pattern dyed in the weft threads is well aligned with the pattern dyed in the warp threads before changing the shed to grip the weft thread. The loom was also placed to catch light coming through a window on the left of the loom.

Salvi brothers weaving side by side as they have done since their father taught them patola weaving as young men

 

About 8 inches (20cm) of cloth is woven each day, and the weavers stop every 4 inches or so to “finish” the pattern by scraping the cloth with sharp metal rods to coax the warp and weft threads into better pattern alignment.

  This loom also used a double string heddle to allow a closer sett of the warp threads (visible above)  

The repeat of the “basket” (Chhabadi Bhat) pattern on the loom here is 7 inches. A single sari length takes 3-4 months to weave.

   The only part of the pattern that is not dyed into both warp and weft is the stripes at each edge, which are only in the warp.

 Another section of weft ready for “basket” pattern:

 

See also Patan Patola

4 thoughts on “Patola Techniques

  1. This is mind-blowing… The hours of work that go into preparing one piece of cloth are incredible. It’s the precision of the pre-dyed threads I admire most I think! Wonderful photos and videos, thanks for sharing.

  2. Amazing photographic angles and fine vedio documention.I too got opportunity to meet Satish Salvi but could not photograph as it was stolen before i reach Patan.Salvi brothers were kind enough to give some of their photos from their collection.They sustain on this art and are very well off than many other weaving communities.

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