**Bhubaneswar:** The age old dying art form, palm-leaf etching craft of Odisha is all set to get a Geographical Indication (GI) as the State government has started its preparation for filing an application for it. This would help in reviving the age-old traditional craft and improving the economic situation of the artisans.
The Puri Creative Handicrafts Cooperative Society Limited, a Puri-based cooperative society dealing with handicrafts, along with the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), that is attached to the Union Ministry of Textiles, has started working on documentation of the craft and survey of artisans for application of the GI tag.
It is to be mentioned here that three handicrafts of Odisha have earned the GI tag. Those are Stone Carving of Konark, Applique work of Pipili and Pattachitra (scroll painting) of Raghurajpur. On behalf of the State Government, Utkalika had applied for the GI registration under Intellectual Property Rights for these crafts.
“We have been documenting the process of production of palm leaf etching craft. Besides, the diversified products on palm leaf including fan, puppet, lamp shed and gift boxes will be displayed along with books and publications on palm leaf manuscripts and the craft. The GI tag will ensure financial viability of the artists by proper training and marketing,” said Devi Nanda of Puri Creative Handicraft Co-Op Society Ltd.
GI tag will help in protecting the products and its techniques from infringement and will give a special status to the product belonging to a particular area. Besides, GI tag will enhance demand in international market, create opportunities to use a special mark on the product and strengthen the productions base and glorify the traditional aspect.
“Existence of palm leaf manuscripts is dating back to the time of Ashoka’s in Odisha. There are lakhs of texts containing temple architecture, flora and fauna, Ayurveda and miniature paintings on palm leafs which have attracted many a researchers over the years. But due to lack of patronage and promotion the century old cultural heritage is on the verge of extinction. The initiative for GI tag may revive the art form,” said Soumendra Kumar Mishra, researcher, Jagannath Sanskuta Mahavidyalaya.
Special Officer, Handicrafts Department Sanatan Nayak said that this art form is unique to the traditional craft of Odisha in many ways and the government would extend help to the co-operative society to achieve the GI tag. But he also added that documentation for GI registration is a lengthy process and would require at least two to three years.