Rajasthan’s incredibly colorful culture has found its expression in its traditional textile industry. From sturdy carpets to soft light-weight quilts, the skills of Rajasthani artisans know no bound.
Originated in west-most part of the state, Pattu is a unique weaving style used for the fabrication/manufacturing of woolen textiles. It is indeed surprising that one of the warmest states of India is the major manufacturer of this winter wear. The most prominent feature of the woolen Pattu of Rajasthan is also the feature that gave the art its name-the narrow striped pattern which in local language is called ‘patti’.
The process of making pattu fabrics is as distinct as the product itself. Though the typical twill weaving (weft on warp threads) is the substantial part of the process, the part that makes it unique is the use of the extra left out weft. The extra weft used in the process gives the fabric an appearance of embroidery, apart from making it thicker and subsequently warmer.
Both the weft and warp threads of Pattu is made of either camel or sheep wool, a fact that also clarifies the enigma as to why authentic pattu is always available in limited colors like black, brown, cream and off-white. For the want of more colors, however, manufacturers have begun using cotton fibers with synthetic dyes. In such multicolored Pattu fabric, the use of extra weft brings out the best output. For the task, the string of extra weft is tied around a small stick, which in turn is passed through regular intervals of picks. The numbers of picks taken in an interval decides the quality of final output.
Apparently, the task is no cakewalk, and requires skilled hands to complete it. Traditional workers of Pattu fabric in Rajasthan hail from Meghwal community, a community associated with the embroidery textile of Rajasthan. In fact, most of the cottage industries in Jaisalmer, Barmer, and other nearby villages where the art is flourishing to its maximum bloom have cottage industries manned by the people from Meghwal community.
Earlier, owing to the roughness of the material, products made from these industries were only worn by the rural people of Gujjar and Kumhar communities. But now, when the fabric is leaving impressions on major designer costumes, it has become a treasured handloom. Different types of Pattu, based on the patterns and motifs, that are stealing textile markets presently are- baladi, malani, bhojsari, kashida, and hiravali.