RAYAGADA: Rayagada district administration will seek help of the Handloom, Science and Technology departments to get geographical indication (GI) tag for Kapdaganda, the prestigious shawl of Dongria Kondh tribe.The Dongrias are particularly vulnerable tribal group who live in Niyamgiri hills of Rayagada and Kalahandi districts and the shawl is a part of their rich heritage of cultural and ethnic identity. Dongria Kondh art and craft reflect the importance of the mountains for the community. The triangular shape of mountains recur in the designs painted on the walls of the village shrine as well as in the colourful Kapdagunda that they wear.
As the shawl is in huge demand among domestic and international tourists, some traders have started making cheap replicas of the handwoven Kapdaganda. To curb the practice and preserve the unique identity of the shawl, the district administration, Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) and Dongria Kondh Development Agency (DKDA) have decided to apply for GI tag.
Woven with excellent craftsmanship, Kapdagunda is prepared by spinsters of the community who gift it to their beloved ones as a token of love. It is also presented by them to their brother and father as a symbol of affection. The off-white coarse cloth used as raw material for Kapdaganda is procured from the Domb, a local schedule caste community by bartering harvested crops. The designs are embroidered on the cloth by a needle using threads. Dongrias believe that red, green and yellow are the most auspicious colours. Red signifies blood, sacrifices and revenge while green symbolises their fertile mountain ecology. Yellow symbolises the origin of the Kondh. It also represents prosperity and turmeric cultivation.
“To prevent duplication of Kapdagunda, we have prepared an action plan to promote it as a product of Niyamgiri Hills. The GI tag is a part of the plan. With the help of the Handloom Department, we aim at creating a national market for the product. Its originality will be maintained and no machine will be used in preparing it,” said Collector Guha Punam Tapas Kumar, adding that the plan has been approved by the State Government. A producer group and a cooperative will be formed for production and funds generation to promote sale of Kapdagunda in other States and international market.
The district administration recently launched a three-month programme ‘Ama Parampara Ama Jeevika’ to train more weavers in traditional weaving of the shawl. At least 235 persons from 16 villages of two gram panchayats – Kurli and Munikhol – are being trained currently. Moreover, efforts are on to popularise the Kapdagunda patterns by replicating the embroidery designs on bags, mobile phone covers and conference pads. The programme is being funded by Handloom Department with ITDA-Gunupur as the facilitator.
Watta forms the three straight lines running at the bottom of the weave representing the imaginary boundary wall of their habitation. It symbolises social security.
Karlikanna is an axe-shaped design symbolising the blade of an axe which indicates the aggressiveness, revenge, energy, power, territorial fights and proves that they are the real protectors of their Dongar (mountain).Keriwatta is the design is derived from tamarind leaf. Being forest dwellers, everything learned by them from the forest is culturally expressed in this design.
Kuddilinga is the triangular design symbolising the abode of their household deity worshiped by them in all important rituals and ceremonial occasions.