We recently received feedback saying our sarees are not to be called ‘Maheshwaris’ as per revised GI tag guidelines. Our sarees are handwoven in the looms of Maheshwar woven by the generation old skilled weavers of Maheshwar, the sarees even have the signature ‘leher’ border of Maheshwar.
We wondered why would anyone claim that our sarees are not to be labelled as ‘Maheshwar’
We can dig into proofs and images and videos, but we would rather go into the root of the issue and understand what GI tag Maheshwari really is
Firstly, what is GI tag?
GI stands for geographical indication. A GI tag denotes a tag given to a unique feature of a product to protect it from being replicated elsewhere.
This also assures that the product originated from the geographical area, where it is specialized in, also the product itself represents the heritage, culture and tradition of that place assuring authenticity of that area.
For example, here, Maheshwari sarees are to be labelled as Maheshwari only and only if it is handwoven by the weavers in the loom of Maheshwar and meets the criteria mentioned conferred in the GI document
The sarees have motifs and border inspired from the intricate carvings of the fort, surrounding nature elements and the ‘Narmada’ river running along this majestic city.
Let’s now see what does the official document say:
- “Maheshwar Sarees & other Fabrics products are known and identified by the Boarder & Pallav containing the carvings/ scriptures/ paintings engraved on the walls of the Fort built by Queen Ahilyabai at Maheshwar. The design of both Boarder and Pallav shall be matching with each other”
- “Maheshwari fabric is gossamer thin - a delicate blend of silk and cotton yarn- made in tiny checks or stripes with a coloured border. The specialty of Maheshwari Sarees is its distinctive border which looks alike from both the sides. Normally the border is traditionally 2.0 to 2.5 inches with geometric designs”.
- “All Maheshwar products consist of carvings/ scriptures/ paintings engraved on the walls of Fort built by Maharani Ahilayabai. It is only with the help of these patterns that a border can be increased or decreased in width. The 'pallav' is woven separately on dobby looms. They are known for there permanent colour fastness, softness and exclusiveness resulting from its simplicity”.
As mentioned in the GI document 197 - GI - Journal Copy - 11-01-2012 dated 11/01/2012 and can be found in the link below - https://search.ipindia.gov.in/GIRPublic/Application/ViewDocument
We at Chowdhrain aim to make traditional handwoven textiles relevant and desirable for the contemporary women who believe in slow fashion and understand the value of handmade. Our collection consists of the traditional six yards and modern design interventions so that these sarees are not seen just as occasional wear.
The recent collection we launched is handwoven tissue silk which is gossamer and feather lite featuring unique stripes inspired from small piece of called ‘chindi’ which we were lucky to have discovered during our visit to weaver’s place in Maheshwar. The design was that of the pallu but we incorporated this into the body of the saree spanning whole six yards except the pallu.
The border of the saree is handwoven with golden zari in ‘leher’ pattern which denotes the majestic waves of the Narmada river.
The powerloom versions of the Maheshwari saree may be able to copy the aesthetics of the saree but the fabric, the feel and the value handwoven saree imparts cannot be replicated.
Now that you know what are the essentials features of a Maheshwari saree you know you are investing in a GI tagged product that not only benefits you but the weaver as well
How do you benefit from the GI tag products?
GI tagged sarees imply the saree is authentically handwoven by the skilled weavers of the geographical area where the tag is given. The saree will have the unique features and properties that makes it GI tag worthy, and for you, investment worthy. Most importantly these sarees are slow made in sustainable way so it is likely to last you generations.
How does it benefit the weavers?
The skilled weavers, when are paid fair price for their produce are motivated to work on honing their skills and produce more and more handloom textiles and the future generations learn these skills and eventually our country can preserve and pass on this heritage to our future generation. Not to forget handlooms are the second most populated occupation after agriculture, the monetary benefits helps weavers support their family and keep the looms running.