To support Old Art
Patan Patola, a traditional form of silk textile that is more than 750 years old, is on the verge of extinction. This ‘dyeing’ art is currently pursued by only four families in Gujarat. Can it be saved and can production of this kind of intricate silk textile be encouraged by people living in Patan? Will the protection of this tradition under Geographical Indications help these producers in commanding a better premium in the market place and thus attract more workers and producers to this tradition? What are the problems that SRISTI faced while trying to bring these families together to protect this tradition? What are the lessons that others wanting to extend similar support to other traditional, regionally known and reputed products (agriculture or otherwise), can draw from the experience of SRISTI? Efforts have been made to address some of these issues in this article.
Link: At least 500-600 g of silk is required to make one patola sari. The silk is bought from Bangalore or is imported from China, Japan, Korea or Brazil. The silk costs around Rs 2,000 per kg and the dye cost (per sari) is about Rs 2,500. In the case of vegetable dyes, the cost is likely to be much higher. A single Patan patola sari with synthetic dyes would cost a minimum of Rs 90, 000.
Both the sides of the sari display the same design; if a sari has a geometric design, it can be worn from any of the four corners. Each sari can survive for about 300 years and even maintain the colour the shuttle.
The designs are drawn on graph paper and then copied into the yarn. The number of threads required is calculated according to the design which must remain constant till the entire weaving of the sari. The measurement is made with a tape with the smallest measurement being 1/100th of an inch.
Eight silk threads are enmeshed into one. Raw silk threads are thinner than hair and hence eight such threads are woven together and bleached.
Next, they are twisted to make it strong. The process of dyeing the threads takes nearly 75 days. The dyed threads are then mounted on the loom in a sequence so that the design becomes visible. The threads of the wefts are wound on to bobbins and kept in the bamboo shuttle for the weaving process. It takes approximately 5-6 months to complete a sari with the help of 3-4 assistants. If a single person handles the entire process, it may take almost a year.
Patolas cannot be woven in humid climate. This is because when the humidity is high, the yarn tends to tangle. During monsoons, a heater is kept under the loom.
Starch is applied after every 8-10 inches of weaving so that the yarn does not get tangled.
The traditional loom is operated only by hand, has no leg paddle and is slanted at one end.
Maintenance of the tension of weft (tana) and warp (vana) is monitored during the weaving process.
Both the sides of the sari display the same design; The design is refocused after approximately 6-7 inches of weaving by tugging the warp yarn with an iron rod. The bobbin thread has to be passed from one side to the other manually at every step with the support of the vee made of sesame wood. The inclination of the loom makes it easier to move the shuttle.
Manufacturing Capacity: Yes
Problem Scale: Grave with local Community