Kutchi shawl likely to get GI tag

Claiming a 500-year-old history linked with the weaving of Kutchi shawls in Gujarat, the Kutch Weavers' Association (KWA) has filed an application for grant of GI with the Registrar in Chennai.

"The application for registration of Kutch shawls for GI has been accepted. It is now placed for comments from the public," Deputy Registrar (Trade Marks and GI), G L Verma said over phone from Chennai.

The shawls made of acrylic wool are dyed and have one solid bright colour throughout.

"The weavers of shawl in Kutch claim a 500 year old history in the region and are originally from Rajasthan. They are called Meghwal wankars (weavers)," said Gabhu Magariya, a member of Kutch Weavers Association (KWA).

There are currently 1,200 weavers who work in 210 villages of Kutch, 800-900 practice the craft full time. Around 2,400 women are engaged in preparatory and finishing processes, the GI application stated.

"The shawl is woven with traditional Kutchi motifs and is processed on handlooms largely in Bhujodi, a village of Kutch," Magariya said, adding 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," he 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 dhabda," Magariya 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," he 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 the Maheswari and Marwara subcastes practiced weaving and leather work.

Thus the Meghwal community from Rajasthan migrated to Kutch, bringing with them the art of handloom weaving. Traditionally, weavers used hand spun yarn provided by Rabaris, a nomadic community of sheep and goat herders.

Among the Meghwals, the Marwadas developed a style of weaving, which provided the Kachchh community with blankets, cloth and traditional dress fabrics.

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