A Compendium of Indian Handicrafts & Handlooms covered under Geographical Indications (GI)
This publication contains details about the 149 Indian handicraft and handloom products with geographical indication (GI) certification as of April 2017. The 200-page compendium was published by the Development Commissioner (Handlooms) and the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) of the government of India’s Ministry of Textiles.
The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act,
1999, states that a GI certification identifies agricultural, natural or manufactured goods
as originating or being manufactured in a specific region, where the quality,
reputation or other characteristics of such goods is attributed to its
geographical origin. In case of manufactured goods, GI may also indicate that
at least one of the good’s production activities takes place in the said
As per the Act’s provisions, artisans and weavers
may register as ‘authorised users’ of a GI. The certification
prevents the sale of GI products that are not manufactured according to the Act’s mandate.
Coir yarn or ‘Alleppey coir’ has been produced along the coast of Kerala since ancient times. To produce the coir, coconuts husks are extracted, retted and beaten to make golden fibre which is then spun into yarn through traditional spinning wheels. The yarn is dyed and woven to make products such as mats, rugs, tiles and baskets.
Uttar Pradesh’s Banarasi brocade saris are made of finely woven silk and decorated using zari. The saris often have Mughal-inspired designs or elements such as kalga and bel (intricate floral and leaf motifs).
In Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district, lohshilp or wrought iron craft is practiced by lohar (ironsmith) communities that traditionally made farming and hunting implements for various tribal groups. Iron scraps from households or markets are recycled as raw materials for this craft, and artefacts are made using a furnace, hammer, forceps, tongs and chisels.
Bidri metalwork of Karnataka is produced using a blackened alloy of zinc and copper and inlaid with thin sheets of pure silver. Its origin, says the report, is attributed to the Bahamani sultans who ruled the Deccan region from 13th to 15th century. The craft is mainly practiced by muslim families and those from Lingayats sects in Bidar town.
Telangana’s Cheriyal paintings are drawn on khadi or cotton cloth. Traditionally done on scrolls of between 10 and 30 metres, these vivid paintings usually depict themes from Hindu epics in a narrative format. The paintings can be found on a variety of products like masks, gifts, jewelry boxes and greeting cards.
The card game ganjifa is believed to have originated in Persia (now Iran) which became popular in India around the 16th century during Mughal rule. The game is played with 96 cards arranged in eight suits. During the Mughal era, the cards – which are now mainly produced in Mysore, Karnataka – were made of ivory, tortoise shell, mother of pearl for the aristocrats and from papier-mâché, palm leaf or cloth for common people.
Puducherry’s Villianur terracotta is a clay craft in which refined clay is partially dried and cast, moulded or hand worked into figures, lamp shades, dolls and idols. The products have elaborate decorations and details and are available in various shapes and designs for different uses. These terracotta objects are mainly produced by Tamil Nadu’s Kulalar community.
Focus and Factoids by Anusha Parthasarthy.
Development Commissioner (Handlooms) and Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles, Government of India
Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, New Delhi