Hereditary weavers in Kancheepuram have viewed the Tamil Nadu Handlooms Department's successful effort to include Kancheepuram silk sari in Geographical Indications Registry and the subsequent remark from the Deputy Registrar of Trade Marks and Geographical Indications, G.L.Verma, as the first and positive step towards safeguarding the traditional weaving practice.

Pointing out that inclusion in GI Registry would help put a check to the unhealthy practice of cheating customers by selling silk saris woven in other parts of the State as ‘Kancheepuram silk sari,' they also expressed hope that Mr. Verma's recent remark that silk saris which comply with the specifications and weaving method mentioned in the GI registry records would alone qualify for branding as ‘Kancheepuram silk sari' would definitely bring some discipline among the silk sari manufacturers and weavers in Kancheepuram.

Mr. Verma, while attending a meeting of weavers and silk sari manufacturers here recently, had ascertained that GI mark could not be used for silk saris which were not produced as per the manufacturing process and with raw materials that do not comply with the specifications mentioned in the GI registry.

Pointing out that the very objective of Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 was to protect the regional specialties traditionally handed over from one generation to the next for centuries, the Deputy Registrar observed that a typical Kancheepuram silk sari was known for its distinguished characteristics of heavy weight, bright colours and solid ‘zari' border with ‘pallu' and unquestionable durability.

This remark, traditional weavers pointed out, automatically forbid the sale of light-weight silk saris without ‘zari' and or embedded with semi-precious stones and with or without embroidery work, as Kancheepuram silk saris. These saris were woven and marketed by both the Handloom Silk Cooperative Societies and private silk sari manufacturers in the town as “latest and new variety” of Kancheepuram silk saris. Further, any sari woven with artificial zari or tested zari also fails to qualify as ‘Kancheepuram silk sari,' they said. Pointing out that still there was demand for traditionally woven, heavy Kancheepuram silk saris with pure ‘zari' content — as these saris were used during marriages and other auspicious occasions — they urged the Union and State governments to ensure availability of ‘zari' at an affordable cost to cater to the demand of a section of customers so that age-old traditional weaving could be saved for posterity. The ‘zari' bundles could be sold at subsidised rate to Handloom Cooperative Societies on production of order copies for traditional Kancheepuram silk saris through the Tamil Nadu Zari Corporation, which has its ‘zari' manufacturing plant at Orikkai on the southern outskirts of Kancheepuram town, the added.