Gujarat famous Kutchi shawl gets GI tag
"We have been granted the GI tag for our Kutchi shawls, which is famous worldwide. The tag will provide a push to its marketing and also help check the cheap imitation being done in other parts of the nation," President Kutch Weavers Association (KWA) Gabhubhai Vankar told PTI.
The GI registration of this shawl will convey assurance of quality and distinctiveness essentially attributed to the place of its origin in a defined geographical locality. "This tag will help over 1,200 weavers of Vankar and Meghwal samaaj, in Kutch region spread across 210 villages," he said adding that Kutch is the only regional cluster of weavers in India who can create intricate motifs in thicker yarns of wool, cotton and silk.
There are currently 1,200 weavers who work in 210 villages of Kutch of which 800-900 practice the craft full time. Around 2,400 women are engaged in preparatory and finishing processes, the GI application stated. The market of these shawls has been appropriated by cheap industrial imitations of their intricate designs by factories in Ludhiana, a KWA member said.
The shawls made of acrylic wool are dyed and have one solid bright colour throughout. "The shawl is woven with traditional Kutchi motifs and is processed on handlooms largely in Bhujodi, a village of Kutch," Vankar said adding that villages like Gambudi, Manukna, Bundra, Tukma also house communities of such shawl weavers.
"The Kutchi shawls are sold in domestic markets and are exported as well, to countries like US and Europe, among others," he said.
A 500-year-old history is linked with the weaving of Kutchi shawls in Gujarat, which is deftly made by hereditary skills of the craftsmen and women in Kutch. "The weavers of shawl in Kutch, who are originally from Western Rajasthan, say there is a 500 year old history in the region linked to it. They are called Meghwal Wankars (weavers)," Vankar said.
The origin of weaving of Kutchi shawls was from the Dhadba or what the Kachchhis call the Hiragiriyu, which is a typical design style of the dhadba, he said.
These motifs and techniques along with the ones used in the traditional shoulder wear and female veils evolved into the modern day shawls that are a major tourist attractions in Kutch, Vankar said.
There are popularly two stories of migration of weavers to Kutch. One story goes that when a girl of a very rich Rabari family was given in marriage and came to Kutch, a weaver was included as part of her dowry so that he could weave the clothes that she would need. This family of weavers gradually grew into a larger community and spread in different settlements of Kutch.
As per the second story a saint- Ramdev Peer – came to Narayan Sarovar in Kutch on a pilgrimage from Rajasthan. At that time some followers built a temple for him and requested him to bring his kin from Marwar in Rajasthan for the upkeep of the temple. That was the beginning of the settlement of the Meghwal community of weavers from Marwar. Of these, Maheswari and Marwara subcastes practised weaving and leather work. Thus the Meghwal community from Rajasthan migrated to Kutch, bringing with them the art of handloom weaving.
Traditionally, the weavers used hand spun yarn provided by Rabaris, a nomadic community of sheep and goat herders. But among the Meghwals, the Marwadas developed a style of weaving, which provided the Kachchh community with blankets, cloth and traditional dress fabrics.