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Geographical indication and sarees - Seven Sarees

Geographical indication and sarees


World Intellectual Property Organisation defines Geographical Indication as a status given to products when there is a clear link between a product and its original place of production. 

With fast moving mass production and easy availability of replicas, it is important to protect and apply better business practices to original and authentic goods. Thus was born the GI- tagging system.

The significance of sarees as Geographical Indicators

As of 2019, India had a whopping list of 46 sarees which are awarded GI status. This list doesn't include GI status issued crafts applied to sarees as embellishments.

This shows how the saree cannot be looked at as yet another garment like dresses or shirts. Each saree has a history and even if tried, the best of replicas cannot match the original. The place has a lot to do with why certain sarees will not look the same if produced outside.

This starts with the raw material grown in the place which is intricately woven with the geography of the place. The amount of sun, humidity, the soil type, the water table , the rivers all play a beautiful medley to come up with the authentic crop and color. The weaver’s build and handwork come next. These cannot be digitized or copied nor can they be taken out of the soil.

Examples of authentic crafts

For instance, take the case of pochampally Ikat. Ikat designs became widely popular in the late 2010’s with the look , not the weave, getting replicated across all sorts of products. But the original pochampally weave is a pleasure to look at. The subtle gradation at the end of each peak, the beautiful color play all comes from first resist dyeing the yarns and then weaving them into geometric patterns followed by a final finishing at the end. So much effort cannot be re-created with a simple digital print.

The same goes for Lucknow Chikankari craft. With Machine embroidery fervently trying to replicate the look, a simple turn of the fabric shows how many knots and loops are created to preserve the handmade status of this craft. Infact, in chikan clusters, the product is never even touched by multiple hands so that the embroidery stroke is preserved throughout.

Preserving our heritage and supporting artisans

When the World and India are going to such extents to preserve our heritage and support artisans, we can do our cause by buying authentic products and ensuring a strong business model for them to not survive but rightfully flourish.

पिछला लेख Ajrakh- A labour of Love
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