GI Tags or Geographical Indication Tag is assigned to products that have a distinct relation with the region or geographic location in which they are produced or manufactured. The GI tag essentially means a certification given to the product indicating that it is made using traditional and authentic methods that are specific to the geographic region or location.
About GI Tags
First of all, it helps preserve the heritage of the land and ensures that the practices and skills passed on from generations are preserved. Also, it helps in securing popularity, advertising and marketing.
Secondly, a GI Tag also ensures that only the authorized maker or producer is allowed to use identification and name of the product. The tag itself is an association of the quality and authenticity that the product brings.
GI Tags in India
India enacted in 1999 the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act. The act however, came into force on 15th September 2003. The first product to get a GI Tag in India was Darjeeling Tea in 2004-2005.
The GI tags are assigned to agricultural products, manufactured products and handicraft products. Some of the other popular GI Tags include Mysore Silks, Thanjavur paintings, Chanderi saree, Basmati, Kolhapuri chappal and more recently, Gucci mushroom from Jammu and Kashmir etc. India has more than 300 products listed with GI Tags.
GI Tags in Karnataka
Every state has its own products that are given GI Tags. However, Karnataka has the highest number of GI Tags in India. With a list of 46 items Karnataka is the state with the highest registrations and that undoubtedly speaks about the quality and heritage of products that it grows, manufactures and creates.
Also, with more GI tags the state is able to showcase and recognize the individuality of its several towns and cities. The GI tag is also a status and boosts the morale and economic viability of sellers and manufacturers.
Here is taking a look at some of the products from Karnataka that have a GI tag.
Handicraft GI Products of Karnataka
Originating from Bidar this metal handicraft may have began as early as the 14th century when the Bahmani Sultans ruled. The art was brought over form Persia, and a mix of Arabic, as well as local elements gave shape to what Bidriware looks like today. The term comes from the name of the town Bidar that still remains the center of production of the metalware. The white metal is used in this art form and is further blackened and inlaid with silver. The intricate inlay of silver and gold on metal gives shapes to beautiful creations including different types of vases, décor items, statues and more.
Channapatna Toys and Dolls & Kinhal Toys
You would have seen children playing with colorful, rounded wooden dolls or toys. These in fact, come from Karantaka’s small town Channapatna that is located in the Ramanagara district. The town manufactures ivory-wood toys and over the years has created a brand for themselves. Toys of today are made using not only ivory-wood, but teak, sandalwood, rosewood, cedar, rubber etc. Since children are the largest market for these toys only vegetable based and natural paints are used.
Suggested read – Photo Feature – A Day with Channapatna Toy Makers
Kinhal toys or Kinhal craft comes from the Kinhal town in Koppal district. These are also wooden toys and also this craft is used in creating idols for worship. Lightweight wood is the primary raw material required and the artisans involved in this art form are called chitragara.
Mysore silk undoubtedly is one of the most popular GI tag products from Karnataka and also the first from the state. The Mysore silk is known for its feel, texture, shine and elegance. Mysore silk sarees are amongst the most expensive in the world for they are made completely using 100% silk and zari work. The zari work is done using gold and silver threads that are weaved with the silk.
Ilkal Sarees and Molakalmuru saree
A traditional saree worn by the women of north Karnataka, Ilkal sarees originate from Ilkal a town in Bagalkot district in Karnataka. The town has been the center of weaving since the 8th century. Using cotton and silk these sarees are affordable, simple, yet elegant. Around 20000 people in the town of Ilkal are currently engaged and employed in weaving and marketing the saree.
Molakalmuru saree, on the other hand, comes from the Molakalmuru town in the Chitradurga district. These silk sarees incorporate patterns, motifs and designs that are influenced by nature.
Sandur Lambani Embroidery and Kasuti Embroidery
The Lambani are a tribe of Karnataka. They usually visit cities and towns with their products that include the Sandur Lambani embroidered products. This form of embroidery is a wonderful combination of cross stitch, darning, and mirror work all using natural dyes and printing methods. The unique design and embroidered material can be used in bags, accessories, wall hangings, pillow covers etc. The embroidery is created by the women of the tribe.
Kasuti embroidery is a folk art and is so intricate that at times it requires more than 5000 stitches to complete the design. Made by hand this form of embroidery is often used on Ilkal sarees, Mysore silk sarees and more.
These woven durries or thin rug carpets are splendid. Their designs, colors and quality make them stand out. Hand made in the town of Navalgund in Dharwad district, these durries or carpets are sold under different categories, such as Jamkhana which is the size of a prayer mat or the Guddar which is used of covering the floor.
There are several other handicrafts that are given GI tags in Karnataka. These include Mysore Ganjifa cards, Mysore rosewood inlay, Mysore traditional paintings, Udupi sarees, Kolhapuri chappals, Karnataka bronze ware and Guledgud Khana.
Manufactured GI tag products
Mysore Sandalwood Soap and Oil
Both Mysore sandalwood soap and Mysore sandalwood oil are GI tag products. The Mysore Kingdom was the largest producer of sandal wood and also one of the largest exporters to European countries. However, during the World War I, the exports were curbed and tons of sandal wood was left in Mysore. Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, who was then the King of Mysore opened the Government Soap Factory in Bangalore. Similarly, sandalwood was sent for oil extraction to Germany. However, due to the war the sandal oil distillery was established in Mysore. Today both these products are sought after for their natural and chemical free approach.
The Mysore agarbatti or locally known oodabathies are incense sticks made from flowers, herbs, barks, essential oils, roots, charcoal etc. Sandalwood is the main ingredient that comes from the forests of the state.
Agricultural goods and foods with GI Tags
Mysore betel leaf
Betel leaves are enjoyed by Indians, especially after a sumptuous meal. The Mysore betel leaf or Piper betel is grown around the area. It also holds cultural value as it is used for auspicious occasions in rituals and prayers. These betel leaves can be differentiated through their spicy taste and smooth texture from paan leaves grown in other parts of India.
The popular banana variety Nanjangud Rasabale is loved for its sweet flavors and medium size. When ripe they have red dots on the skin and a fantastic fragrance too.
Bababudangiri and Chikmagalur Arabica Coffee
The first coffee beans are said were sown in the Baba Budan Giri Hills in the Chikmagalur district around 300 years back. Later the Dutch and British expanded the commercial farming of this coffee variety.
Coorg Orange or Coorg Mandarin is cultivated in the Kodagu district. These oranges are enjoyed for their perfect blend of sweetness and acidity. They are easy to peel, have less seeds and have a golden shine to them.
Different varieties of mangoes are grown all over the country. From Karnataka comes the Appemidi mango and is highly sought out for its use in pickles. They preserve their flavor, taste and texture even after years. This variety is grown in many parts of the state, including in the Shimoga district, Uttar and Dakshin Kannada districts and along river valleys.
Ram Ratan Singh started making the pedha, a milk based sweet delicacy in the 18th/19th century. The family since for generations has been making these delicious sweets for decades with their secret ingredient that has made this dish famous worldwide.
Some of the other GI tagged food items include the Bangalore blue grapes, Bugadi chili, Coorg green cardamom, Gulbarga tur dal, Sirsi supari, Udipi malligae and many more.
The Karnataka GI products are a reflection of the hard work and skill of its local towns and cities, whether it is handicrafts, manufactured or agricultural and food products. You must buy the authentic GI tagged products of Karnataka to support the local artisans of its regions.