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Pitching on the Patola

SRAVASTI DATTA
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CRAFT Narshi Bhai’s Patola saris and dupattas are works of fine craftsmanship. They are on display at Basava Ambara

Narshi Bhai spreads out one gorgeous Patola sari after another, while explaining the effort that went into weaving them. “All of them are hand-made in the single Ikkat technique. It takes two weavers to make one sari and 20 days for it to be completed.” The slightly-built Narshi Bhai, with a few members of his family of artisans, is in their city with a collection of their finely-woven saris and dupattas at Basava Amabara.

Patola, an ancient weaving technique, includes tie and dye work. The patterns range from geometrical designs to even motifs of dancing girls and animals. From Narshi Bhai’s collection of saris, there isn’t one that escapes your eye. Each delicate silk sari stands out for its vibrant combination of colours, such as royal peacock blue with jet black, or flaming orange muted by hints of peach. The patterns range from the delicate to the grand. Considerable thought and creativity have gone into each one of them. “I am always on the lookout for interesting designs. Whenever a design interests me, it takes shape in my mind and I create a unique design out of it,” says Narshi Bhai. Narshi Bhai hails from Katariya village in Gujrat, and has been weaving Patola saris and other garments for 15 years. His father Dhanabhai used to weave khadi, but Narshi Bhai chose to weave Patolas to make ends meet. From Dhanabhai’s one loom, today Narshi Bhai has five looms, with a workforce of 20 people. Over the last few years, about a 100 people are involved in making Patolas.

The commercial success of weaving Patolas has had a ripple effect on the village. It has made the village completely self sufficient. The villagers do not have to go to urban areas for employment. And around 200 to 350 children study in schools in the village.

Narshi Bhai, has received support from NGOs such as Saath in Gujarat. Ask him if the Government has helped at all, and the soft-spoken Narshi Bhai says emphatically: “No, they haven’t supported us in the least. NGOs have done so.”

Narshi Bhai sells his saris without the interference of middle-men. He says that he has, with a few members of his artisan community, travelled to different cities in India, from Chennai to Mumbai, carrying all the products on their own.

He has even showcased his work at art fairs in Bangalore. He says he has a particular fondness for Basava Amabara, with its old-world charm and display of antiques and exquisite clothing and jewellery.

The saris are priced approximately between Rs. 7000 to Rs. 10,000 and the dupattas start from Rs. 2000, approximately.

The saris and dupattas are available till February 10 at Basava Amabara 93, Kanakapura Road, next to New Generation School, opposite Krishna Rao Park, Basavangudi. Call 26561940.

SRAVASTI DATTA

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