It was an invite from Qissaa that drew me to ICCR for the exhibition of Patola saris. There was no doubt that the colors and weaves would take more than the usual time to appreciate the beauty of each display.

Vibha Mitra the Sutradhar of Qissaa ( looked vibrant and energetic as ever as she recounted the story of the unique saris. “Textures and designs fascinated me as did Indian myths and traditions” says Vibha talking about the exhibition.  Patolas are handwoven silk sarees and that makes them all the more unique.

As you walk around the exhibition you realise why they are a rage and such a wanted item. The finest dyed fabrics were very exclusive and as you moved from one display to the other you lost time and drifted back to history.  In the days of the Rajas and Maharanis it was only those from the royal and aristocratic families who wore a Patola. “It takes six months to one year of make each Patola sari” explains Vibha.

Patolas originated and in Patan, Surat and Ahmedabad in a very traditional style that only the family members of the weavers are familiar with. They put their creativity and art into each warp and weft thread as a result of which you get to see unique and very exclusive saris”.

Quoting very aptly from Baishali Chatterjee Dutt,

“What songs have been woven into you by hundreds of hands,

hands as ancient as the sea,

and as deft with the warp & weft

as with fishing nets.”

Double Ikats were also on display and showcase styles of weaving techniques individualized to each region. The silk masterpieces that come from Patan, Gujarat are very colorful and have geometric patterns that are in much demand even today.

Patola saris, due to their high costs are worn as a social status symbol during special occasions such as weddings. In my mind the double ikat patterns like flowers, elephants, dancing figures make the sari more gorgeous and special.

Vibha continues to bring art to life and a visit to her store says it all, keeping tradition and culture alive beyond the short exhibition days. Her store displays unique selected apparel and lifestyle items making a choice very difficult. She believes that we should take pride in our own country and support as well as encourage the artisans by buying handloom products as this would keep our traditions alive.

It is important to note that Madhvi Handicrafts represented by the father-son duo of Sunil and Shyam Soni have kept this weaving tradition alive. They brought their exquisite creations, in all original colors and designs which were initiated a thousand years ago, recreated by them today. The Qissaa of the dyed yarn was brought to Kolkata textile aficionados by Qissaa and Vibha.

Address: 21/1, Lansdowne Place, Kolkata 700029 Ph: 098835 20202. Hours:  11am – 8pm.