The Durgi stone carvings in Andhra Pradesh's Guntur District have something to celebrate, as the Chennai GI registry finally granted Geographical Indicator (GI) tag to the sculptures.
Durgi is a village and mandal in the Palnadu region of Guntur district, where stone craft originated in the 15th century.
According to the National Informatics Centre (NIC), "At that time sculptors preferred soft limestone to the more expensive granite to carve idols. Today commercial demand for the stone carvings has resulted in the sculptors creating more simple, utilitarian designs than in times past. Craftsmen sell items such as paperweights and lampshades to individuals and dealers.
The Times of India reported that the GI application stated that Durgi carvings were unique as they were sculpted in stone from soft limestone, which is available only in the Palnadu region.
Speaking to TOI, assistant registrar of Trade Marks & GI, Chinnaraja G Naidu said, â€śWe registered geographical indication for Durgi stone carvings on October 24. In May, long-pending Banaganapalle mangoes of AP also got the tag. Etikoppaka toys of Andhra got the tag in April."
The NIC, on its website, also states, "The ancient skill which produced masterpieces of art and sculpture seen at Nagarjunakonda museum continues to be practiced and taught here. The artisans were moved down to this place when the Nagarjuna Sagar Irrigation Project Reservoir inundated their traditional dwellings. These artisans generation after generation continue to follow the traditional methods and styles thereby playing a crucial role in keeping this art from alive for posterity."
â€śOnce the GI protection is granted, no other producer can misuse the name to market similar products. It also provides comfort to customers about the authenticity of that product,â€ť National Intellectual Property Organisation president TC James told PTI.
In May this year, one of Andhra's most popular and finest variety of mango, the Banaganapalle mango, received the GI tag.
In the documents seeking the GI tag, Andhra had said, "The prominent characteristic of Banganapalle mangoes is that their skin has very light spots, stone is oblong in shape and having very thin seed with sparse and soft fibre all over."
The state also said that the climate in Banaganapalle and surrounding areas of Kurnool district, resulted in the unique characteristics of the mango.
The Indian government maintains a GI Registry, which keeps track of GI tags, which indicate that a certain product comes from a certain geographical location.
Once a GI tag is allotted to a product, the name becomes unique to that geographical area, and cannot be used for products that are manufactured outside of it.
Violation of GI tags is a punishable offence under the law.
In Andhra, the famous 'Tirupati laddu' offered as prasadam at the Sri Venkateswara temple atop Tirumala already enjoys the GI tag.