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Pols and Mashru Fabric : Unique identity of Patan

Pol, pronounced Pod or Por literally means a gate. It is an unique concept in community living in Gujarat, where homes are located close together in a walled compound. Access is controlled via a large doorway or a gate. Usually all homes in a Pol belong to the same community. It is a safe place for children to grow up in and for women to bond with each other. The homes are quaint, and have good ventilation.

Patan is full of such Pols. This Pol in Patan has homes of the Khatri community, who weave Mashru fabric. Mashru fabric is an unique fabric that used to be a mix of Silk and Cotton.

The visible side has a vibrant sheen and a satin finish, while the reverse is plain cotton. There are two theories behind the name Mashru, some say the word ‘Mashru’ comes from Arabic and means ‘permitted’, while some say it comes from the Sanskrit root ‘Mishra’ means ‘mixed’. The fabric is mainly manufactured in Patan and Mandvi in Gujarat, India on pitlooms with a fly shuttle.

Earlier, the weavers used pure mulberry silk yarn and fine cotton. This weaving technique resulted in a silky shine from the outside, and the comfort of Cotton on the inside. Nowadays though, the silk yarn is replaced with rayon to make the fabric cost effective.

- Shefali Vaidya

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