Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Thanjavur Dolls acquire GI Status [India]
The dancing dolls (thalai aatti bommai) of Thanjavur can now boast of one more feature the Geographical Indication (GI) mark. The doll has been included in the Government of India's GI Registry, a statutory recognition of the toy's geographical origin to the Thanjavur region. From now on, the term dancing doll of Thanjavur' would refer only to the authentic Raja-Rani' pair, which stand on a curved pedestal.
The GI-registered dolls, which are believed to have come to Thanjavur during King Sarafoji's regime in the early 19th century, are unique as they remain vertical and upright always, thanks to a clay tablet placed inside the round curved pedestal.
Among the other products registered with the GI registry are Darjeeling tea, Chanderi saree, Kancheepuram silk, Mysore sandal soap, Solapur terry towel and Kangra tea. Under the Geographical Indication of Goods (registration and protection) Act, 1999, agricultural, natural or manufactured goods originating or manufactured in the territory of a country, or a region or locality in that territory, are registrable as geographical indications. This gives to the registered proprietor and its authorised users the legal right to the exclusive use of the GI and also the right to obtain relief in case of its infringement. It also ensures that only genuine products are marketed. Putting the Thanjavur dolls under GI protection is no mean achievement as it is common for the entire world. Just like trademarks, the GI mark too are source-identifiers. Besides ensuring monopoly for the association or group the Thanjavur Chamber of Commerce in this case the GI mark shields a product from bogus claims and poor quality. In the case of the Dancing Dolls, the GI registry has taken note of the unique production method involving plaster of Paris, papier mache, wood pulp and sago. It recognized the raja-rani' motif of the doll tradition and attributed the dolls to the skills of artisans in and around Thanjavur.
Now that it has been registered, artisans cand register themselves with the Chamber to become GI-recognised craftsmen. The membership will also entail inspection by internal and external experts, who are mandated to audit the quality of the dolls in keeping with the culturally rich tradition of Thanjavur.