“Double Ikat” is one of the most complex forms of artistry amongst the textile collectors and curators. The word ikat has an Indonesian origin and according to them, it means “to bind”. What double ikat weving style actually means is that, “Double Ikat is an ancient dyeing technique that resists the dye from spreading to the whole fabric forcing it to make a pattern!”
Double ikat both wrap and weft threads are tied and dyed with such precision that when woven, threads from both axes meshes exactly at certain points to form a complete motif or pattern.Once double Ikat weave gets complete and the saree or fabric is woven, you cannot differentiate between the sides – the colour and the intensity, the feel and the look, are the same on both sides.
However, Patola of Patan (Gujarat) is unique in its geometric floral and figurative patterns executed with precision of design planning, and meticulously accurate weaving alignment which results in precise outline of the patterns. This requires immense visualization and coordination skills. It is a marvel of weaving and precision, with its many coloured warp and weft matching perfectly at their designated places to create intricate motifs.
Double Ikat is a tie and dye technique has been used by many weavers of Indonesia, India, Japan, Latin America and many other countries around the world. But if you devour through the history of Textile curator, the artisans that has weaved the rarest and the most precious form of silk cloth using the Double Ikat technique, you will hear only one name, “Patan Patolas”. This rare art of Patola fabric that blossomed in the Patan city of Gujarat under the patronage of “Chaulukya Rajputs” is a closed family tradition of the Salvi caste and is renowned by the name of “Patan Na Patola”.
With its footprints way back in till the 12th Century, Double Ikat Patan Patola is a hand woven fabric made out of genuine silk, folk motifs and five coloured resist dyes that are created by using the vegetable dyes. The colour and intricacy of the Patola Fabric is the true identity of it. A genuine Patan Patola will pass the silk burn test, the true Patola saree colours will not fade at least for 300 years! It is as the Gujaatis say, “Padi patole bhat, faate pan fite nai” which means that “Patolas might tear, but it will not fade!” Also a Patan Patola saree looks alike on the both the sides and hence there is no reverse side to it, which means it can be worn on either side.
It takes 4-5 months for a Master Weaver to completely weave one Patolu and in the ancient times, it was only worn by royal families. The British then used it as the royal gift to establish trade in different parts of the world! The art is considered as a sacred tradition and is passed on only to the males of the families. Even today, a genuine Patan Patola today is a high-end product and is considered rare and royal by the ones that wear it!