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Elephant patolu

Elephant patolu

  • Place of origin:

    Gujarat (made)

  • Date:

    19th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Double ikat silk

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This type of silk cloth is called a ‘patolu’. The design of four large elephants fills the entire length of the cloth. As far as we can judge, ‘patola’ of this type were made in Gujarat, India, exclusively for export to Indonesia. There they fulfilled a ceremonial role for their aristocratic owners. Over time people came to treasure ‘patola’ as heirlooms, revere them as sacred objects and credit them with magical powers.

The weaving technique used to create ‘patola’ is very sophisticated. Weavers tie and dye the warp and weft threads in patterns and then weave them together to create a pattern on both sides of the cloth.

Physical description

Red and black ceremonial cloth with two pairs of caparisoned elephants.

Place of Origin

Gujarat (made)


19th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Double ikat silk


Length: 480 cm, Width: 100 cm, Weight: 11.5 kg Weighed on roller

Object history note

Made in Gujarat for the Indonesian market

Descriptive line

Ceremonial cloth (patolu), silk, double ikat, depicting two pairs of caparisoned elephants, Gujarat for the Indonesian market, 19th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

J. Guy, Woven Cargoes. Indian Textiles in the East, 1998, pp. 4-5.
pp.54-55, pl. 41
Indian ikat textiles / Rosemary Crill. London: V&A Publications, 1998 Number: 1851772421

Labels and date


Silk patola - ceremonial textiles made in the demanding 'double ikat' dyeing and weaving technique - were the Indian cloths most highly prized in Indonesia. This ceremonial banner, with its four large elephants, would have been highly revered. Never made for use in India itself, this type of patola was exported to the remote islands of eastern Indonesia, where most surviving examples have been collected.

Silk (double ikat weave)
Gujarat, probably Patan, 1850-1900
V&A: 1S.74-1993 [03/10/2015-10/01/2016]





Subjects depicted

Tiger; Lion; Elephant




South & South East Asia Collection

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