GI Tag - Cuttack’s famed silver filigree work and Majuli masks of Assam

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GI Tag - Cuttack’s famed silver filigree work and Majuli masks of Assam Blog Image

What’s in today’s article?

  • Why in news?
  • What is GI Tag?
  • What are Majuli masks of Assam?
  • What is Majuli manuscript painting?
  • What is Cuttack’s Rupa Tarakasi (Silver Filigree)?

Why in news?

The famous Cuttack Rupa Tarakasi (Silver Filigree), traditional Majuli masks & Majuli manuscript painting in Assam were given a Geographical Indication (GI) tag by the Centre.

GI Tag

  • About
    • A GI tag is conferred upon products originating from a specific geographical region, signifying unique characteristics and qualities.
    • It serves as a trademark in the international market.
    • The GI tag would help consumers differentiate between authentic products and products sourced from outside the said geographical region.
  • Legal provision: The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act was enacted in India in September 2003.
  • Governing body for GI
    • International Level: It is governed by WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
      • It derives its origin from Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.
    • In India - Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks, who is also Registrar of Geographical Indications.

Majuli masks of Assam

  • Background: Majuli
    • Majuli is the largest river island in the world. It is also the seat of Assam’s neo-Vaishnavite tradition.
    • It has been home to the art of mask-making since the 16th century.
    • Today, many of its traditional practitioners are working to take the art out of their traditional place in sattras, or monasteries.
  • About Majuli masks
    • These are handmade masks used in bhaonas on the island of Majuli in Assam.
      • Bhaonas are theatrical performances with devotional messages under the neo-Vaishnavite tradition.
    • The masks are used to depict characters in devotional performances.
    • It was introduced by the 15th-16th century reformer saint Srimanta Sankardeva.
  • Features of Majuli masks
    • The masks can depict gods, goddesses, demons, animals and birds — Ravana, Garuda, Narasimha, Hanuman, Varaha Surpanakha all feature among the masks.
    • They can range in size from:
      • those covering just the face (mukhmukha), which take around five days to make,
      • to those covering the whole head and body of the performer (chomukha), which can take up to one-and-a-half months to make.
    • The masks are made of bamboo, clay, dung, cloth, cotton, wood and other materials available in the riverine surroundings of their makers.
  • The art practised in monasteries
    • Majuli has 22 sattras, and the mask-making tradition is by and large concentrated in four of them — Samaguri Sattra, Natun Samaguri Sattra, Bihimpur Sattra and Alengi Narasimha Sattra.
      • Sattras are monastic institutions established by Srimanta Sankardev and his disciples as centres of religious, social and cultural reform.
      • Today, they are also centres of traditional performing arts such as borgeet (songs), xattriya (dance) and bhaona (theatre).

Majuli manuscript painting

  • It is a form of painting — also originating in the 16th century — done on sanchi pat, or manuscripts made of the bark of the sanchi or agar tree, using homemade ink.
  • The earliest example of an illustrated manuscript is said to be a rendering of the Adya Dasama of the Bhagwat Purana in Assamese by Srimanta Sankardev.
  • This art was patronised by the Ahom kings. It continues to be practised in every sattra in Majuli.
  • Majuli manuscript painting also received the GI tag.

Cuttack’s Rupa Tarakasi (Silver Filigree)

  • About
    • Odisha’s Cuttack is known for its silver filigree work, of intricate design and fine craftsmanship.
    • In Odia, tara means wire and kasi means to design.
    • Thus, as part of Rupa Tarakasi, silver bricks are transformed into thin fine wires or foils and used to create jewellery or showpieces.
    • While different grades of silver are used in the main metal alloy, the craftsmen also use other metals like copper, zinc, cadmium and tin.
  • Origin
    • While the exact origin of the filigree art in Cuttack is not clear, it is known to have existed as far back as the 12th century.
    • The art form received considerable patronage under the Mughals.
    • Over the years, as Cuttack transitioned through the hands of different rulers, the silver filigree took on a new form with each.
  • Popular product categories
    • The popular product categories now found in Cuttack are jewellery, decorative artifacts, accessories, home décor and religious/cultural pieces.
    • The iconic items found only in Cuttack are the Durga Puja Medha (silver decorations for the Durga idol and pandal), Odissi jewellery, religious/cultural pieces linked directly to the customs of Odisha, and the Dama chain.

Q1) What is Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)?

The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is a multilateral agreement that applies basic international trade principles to member states regarding intellectual property. TRIPS came into force in 1995 as part of the Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Q2) What is Majuli Island?

 Majuli is the world's largest river island, covering 352 square kilometers (136 square miles). It's located in the Brahmaputra River in the state of Assam, India. The island is formed by the Brahmaputra River, the Subansiri River, and the Kherkutia Xuti, an anabranch of the Brahmaputra.


Source: GI tag for Majuli masks of Assam: History, cultural significance of the centuries-old art form | Indian Express | The Hindu