Patola are double ikat woven saris, usually made from silk, manufactured in Patan, Gujarat, India. The word patola is the plural form; the singular is patolu. They are very expensive and were once worn only by those belonging to royal and aristocratic families. The sari is now popular among the elite.
Patola are tie and dye designs. A bunch of yarn is dyed and woven into fine fabrics of various designs and motifs. These motifs created out of dyed yarn designs are equally prominent on either side of the sari. This silk cloth with double Ikat patterns is considered to be holy and is believed to possess miraculous powers of attracting prosperity.
Patola weaving is a closely guarded family tradition. There are three families in Patan that weave these highly-prized double ikat saris. It is said that this technique is taught to no one in the family except the sons. It can take six months to one year to make one sari due to the long process of dyeing each strand separately before weaving them together.
Four distinct patterns are woven primarily in Gujarat by the Salvi community. In Jain and Hindu communities, double ikat saris with designs of parrots, flowers, elephants, and dancing figures are generally used. In Muslim communities, saris with geometric designs and flower patterns are typical, being worn mostly on weddings and other special occasions. Maharashtrian Brahmins wear saris woven with plain, dark-colored borders and body, and a bird design called Nari Kunj.