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  • Surat’s rich zari craft gets GI status

    Published on November 23, 2010

    The grand and glittering centuries-old zari-making craft of Surat district in Gujarat has been granted Geographical Indication (GI) status, protecting it against infringement.

    “The Geographical Indication office in Chennai has accorded GI status to Surat’s zari craft recently. It has brought cheers to over 1.50 lakh stakeholders directly or indirectly earning their livelihood,” a member of FICCI (Western Region) said.

    GI of goods refer to the geographical indication referring to a place of origin of that product, which attributes it the quality, reputation and distinctiveness.

    “The grant of GI status to Surat’s zari craft will prevent others from duplicating it. It is one of the oldest industry in Surat linked to changing prices of gold and silver from which it is made,” Arun Zariwala, member of Federation of Indian Art Shilp Weaving Industry Association said.

    ‘Zari’ is a type of thread made of fine gold or silver wire used in traditional Indian and Pakistani garments. This thread is woven into fabrics, primarily made of silk to create intricate patterns.

    Chinese zari manufacturers and few domestic producers in other parts of the country have been flooding the markets with duplicate Zari.

    The Textile Committee of FICCI and the Surat zari industry felt the need for protection of this craft from infringement under the provisions of Geographical Indications Act.

    This is when they filed an application to obtain GI status in 2009.

    “The Surat zari industry should now look at not only scaling up its manufacturing operations but also improving technology and product quality,” Director FICCI Western Region Dr Vaijayanti Pandit said.

    Tangaliya, a 700-year-old hand woven textile craft of Surendranagar district in Gujarat, had received GI recently.

    GI ensures the collective right of the Surat ‘Zari’ community (dominated by Rana community). This would immensely help this ‘Zari’ art which dates back to as early as 16th century, and artisans to survive, a member of FICCI said.

    The bulk of ‘Zari’ produced in Surat goes to Varanasi and centres in Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

    In Varanasi, Surat’s ‘Zari’ is used to manufacture the world famous ‘Banarasi sarees’, a must on weddings.

    Similarly, ‘Kanjivaram’ sarees, manufactured in Southern India, also use zari liberally.

    A survey shows that there are at least 500 composite or semi-composite manufacturing units in Surat alone.

    Apart, from this there are around 3,000 small household units of Zari manufacturers in Surat, who produce real Zari, imitation Zari and plastic Zari.

    Globally, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Afghanistan, France and Japan are amongst the few leading consumers of Zari, industry sources said.

    While artistic zari textiles and embroidered zari goods like purses, bags get sold mostly in sophisticated markets of UK and US, they said.