Deconstructing GI to Create Value for the Handmade

Advocacy, IPR, Legalities, Policy, Safeguarding, Endangered

Deconstructing GI to Create Value for the Handmade

Sethi, Ritu

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Brand identity, design marks and the feting of designers is now an almost daily feature of our morning newspapers and television shows with a plethora of manufacturers vying to endorse and publicize their brands. Charges of cheating and infringement of design are not infrequent in these circles and counter-charges grab headlines, serving as still more fodder for the publicity mill. However, amidst all this babble of newsprint and televised footage, there is a marked absence of any mention of copying associated with the many hundreds of indigenous crafts and textiles that exist in this country. The Bronze castings of the Sthapathis of Swamimalai, the dhokra metalwork, the brilliantly woven Paithani, the hand painted Kalamkari and the hundreds of other masterpieces that India has been justly famous for are clearly delineated brand identities that have been honed over decades –often centuries – of aesthetic development, technological fine tuning, daily practice and diligent hard work. Executed through specific techniques, with vast vocabularies of motifs and colours, composition and style, and rooted in culture and history. Is this deafening silence because there is no copying of these hallowed traditions? Or is it because there is a widely accepted view that copying from traditional craftsperson’s and weavers is acceptable, and, in fact, even given tacit approval? We have all seen a Warli pa...
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