Srinagar: Taleem, a set of codes which craftsmen read while weaving carpets, last week won Kashmiri carpet the Geographical Indication tag, giving the fabled handicraft the certificate that it is unique to Kashmir.
Iranian carpets are similar to Kashmiri carpets, in fact superior. So what qualifies a Kashmiri carpet for the GI tag? In no other place than Kashmir do weavers use a written set of codes and symbols for design patterns and colours, the taleem.
Director of Indian Institute of Carpet Technology Srinagar Zubair Ahmad Mir told Kashmir Reader that it took six years to secure this status for the carpets.
Meeras Carpet Weavers’ Industrial Cooperative Ltd, Baripora, Nawa Kadal (Srinagar) had moved a petition before the Geographical Indications registry, Chennai, seeking the GI status for the handmade Kashmiri carpet.
“After due consideration the GI status has been accorded to this product, which many say was introduced by outsiders,” he said.
According to Intellectual Property India website, GI is a name or sign used on certain products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin (e.g. a town, region, or country).
India, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, which came into force with effect from 15 September 2003.
GIs have been defined under Article 22(1) of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights(TRIPS) Agreement as: “Indications which identify a product as originating in the territory of a member, or a region or a locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin.”
Zubair added that it is a well documented fact that we adopted carpet weaving from Persia and Turkey and carpets are not unique to Kashmir region only.
Many other places use similar materials and methods of making carpets as Kashmir.
Therefore, it was not easy to secure GI tag for carpets like other Kashmir products, such as kani shawl and khatamband, where both techniques and materials used are unique to Kashmir.
Zubair said the authorities in Chennai raised several queries regarding this petition and “we and other stakeholders persuaded them about the fact that the technique of weaving, the use of taleem, was unique to us”.
In other parts of the world a set design is copies into the weave.
There is no historical evidence on when taleem was adopted in carpet making. However, a similar set of written symbols is used in weaving of famed Kani Shawls, which could be the source of carpet taleem.
Some believe that when the demand for carpets increased and Kani Shawl was on the decline, shawl weavers took taleem to carpets.
Among the weavers a person who can read taleem is considered the best. Those who couldn’t read would weave after listening to their colleagues who would read out the taleem aloud.
According to Zubair, the GI status will enable authorities here to challenge the fakes manufactured outside the state besides ensuring quality. The manufacturers will have to mention knots per square inch, size, pile height on their products.
A specific logo also comes with the GI tagging.
“Our role will be to test these products so as to make them qualify for GI status,” Zubair said.
In the international market, he said, Kashmiri carpets will receive an impetus now.
Last week the prime business body KCCI also hailed GI status to this product.
Mushtaq Ahmad Wani, president KCCI had said that the GI certification shall add both value and credibility to our carpets in both domestic and international markets.
“It will help boost exports and in turn benefit our artisans and overall economy of the state,” he said.