Handkerchief art gets legal protection in Himachal Pradesh

November 13th, 2008 - 11:44 am ICT by IANS  

Shimla, Nov 13 (IANS) The Himachal Pradesh government has now provided legal protection to a dying art form - miniature embroidery on handkerchiefs on the lines of the globally famous Chamba school of miniature painting.The art of embroidery on the Chamba rumal (handkerchief), as it is known, originated and flourished in the same princely hill state of Chamba (now Chamba district) in the 16th and 17th centuries where the Chamba school of miniature paintings got royal patronage.

Now this art form has been registered under the Geographical Indications (GI) of Goods (Registration and Protecton) Act,1999, by the Chennai-based Geographical Indications Registry.

According to S.S. Chandel, officer in charge of the Himachal Pradesh Patent Information Centre, the registration of the Chamba handkerchief under the GI Act would now help the artisans, producers and others in marketing their original product around the world.

“The certification of the product by a department of the central government will stamp the genuineness and origin of the product. This will, of course, help boost its exports too. The ultimate gainer is the entire community of artisans,” Chandel said.

“The GI stamping will also prevent unauthorised production and use of the brand name ‘Chamba rumal’ by any producer outside the geographical regions of Chamba,” he added.

The GI registration is a community patent in which instead of an individual, the entire community of artisans, producers and other stakeholders of a particular area are benefited.

Earlier, the Chamba handkerchief was used to wrap gifts exchanged among friends on special occasions like birthdays, weddings, fairs and festivals.

This custom was predominant especially among the royal families. During a wedding, the specially embroidered handkerchiefs would be exchanged between parents of the bride and the bridegroom.

“The oldest handkerchief belonging to the 16th century is now kept in a Sikh shrine in Punjab’s Hoshiarpur town. It is believed that it was woven by Bebe Nanki, sister of Guru Nanak.

“Another historical artefact has been displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The handkerchief, depicting the battle of Kurukshetra, was presented by Raja Gopal Singh to the British in 1883,” said Prem Sharma, director of the state department of language, art and culture.

The Chamba handkerchief is the third product of the hill state that has been registered under the GI Act. The others are Kullu shawl and Kangra tea.

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