BHUBANESWAR: An application seeking geographical indication (GI) tag for the Kapdaganda shawl, a handloom product unique to Dongria Kondha tribe, has been filed jointly by Niyamgiri Dongria Kandha Weavers Association and Directorate of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Research and Training Institute (SCSTRTI).
The shawl is woven and embroidered by women of the Dongria Kondh - a particularly vulnerable tribal group residing in the Niyamgiri hills of Rayagada. There are 58 Dongria-inhabited villages under Muniguda and Bissam Cuttack blocks of the district and women in almost all the villages are into weaving Kapdaganda.
SCSTRTI Director AB Ota, who has filed the application said a GI tag for Kapdaganda is necessary in order to protect the rare shawl from misuse by mass production. As the shawl is much in demand in the national and international handloom markets, it is being rampantly duplicated and mass produced by private sector handloom firms and designers across the country.
The handcrafted motifs in the shawl are mainly lines and triangular shapes that reflect the importance of mountains for the community. The motifs are embroidered on an off-white coarse cloth by a needle using red, green and yellow threads.
The applicants pointed out that although the weaving and embroidery of Kapadaganda shawls are closely associated with the tradition, festival and ethnicity of the Dongria Kondhs, there is no historical evidence on the origin of Kapdaganda.
"What we know is that Kapdaganda was worn by community members during their visit to the Jeypore King’s court for providing vegetables, fruits and other things collected from the forest by them. The practice of using the Kapadaganda cloth by the Dongrias started during the period of King Vikram Dev of Jeypore in the mid-17th century," they said.
Last year, the tribal leaders of the community had filed complaints with the Rayagada administration against 40 organisations and individuals for selling 'fake' Kapdaganda shawls on e-commerce sites and replicating the designs on shoes and bags.
"A GI tag will provide the tribal weavers legal help in preventing duplication of their traditional designs," said Sindhe Wadaka, president of the Niyamgiri Dongria Kandha Weavers Association.