Geographical Indication (GI) is a tag given on products having a specified geographic origin and it
possesses certain features which signify that the product is indigenous in nature. The statute that
governs this domain is Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999
which ensures protection of the traditional culture and provides benefits to the artisans, weavers
and craftsmen socially as well as economically. This statute gives protection of all kind of products
including, natural, manufactured, handicrafts, horticulture, agriculture and so on. Mizoram is one of
the Indian States which is known for its good quality diverse traditional fabric, weaving and intricate
Pawndum is one of such handicraft items of Mizoram which have got the GI tag. It is an essential
traditional cloth of the Mizo people. It is a black cloth having red stripes on it. It is worn by wrapping
around the waist and covers the lower part of the body which almost touches down to the feet.
Earlier young men used pawndum as a night cover when they used to stay in the men’s dormitory
called Zawlbuk by locals and were also used as attire while performing ‘Khuallam’, one of the
popular traditional dance forms of Mizoram. Traditionally a young Mizo woman was required to
weave a Pawndum and carry it along with her to her in-laws after getting married. Pawndum holds a
deep cultural significance for Mizos, even today. It has different names as per the purpose of its use.
For instance, when it is used to cover the dead body, it is referred as ‘Thihrin puan’ expressing
condolence and tragedy whereas it is referred as ‘Zawlpuan’ when it is presented as a token of
affection and love or to establish a cordial relationship with someone.
Hmingthanzuala said that the state art and culture department has applied for the GI tag for various Mizo traditional shawls since 2015. He said that they consulted officials of the state since and technology department for the purposes and the applications were rejected several times by the Centre.
According to the director, many Mizo traditional shawls have been modified leaving behind the originality by some weavers and traders in and outside Mizoram. The traditional shawls originally belonged to the Mizos and the GI tag is necessary to retain ownership and originality of the traditional shawls, he said.
Pawndum is produced entirely in the state of Mizoram. The main centres of production being at
Aizawl, in village Thenzawl. The geographical boundaries of the production area of Pawndum lies
between 21° 55’ 52″ – 24° 31’ 43″ latitude (N) and 92° 15’ 17″ – 93° 26’ 37″ longitude (E).
The registration of Pawndum was done by Patent Information Center (PIC) under the Geographical
Indication Registry, Chennai. The registration of Pawndum is done for the Art & Culture Department
of the State Government who serves as the proprietor. An application for GI is made by Mizoram Art
& Cultural Society on 30 th August, 2017. GI tag was given in August, 2019 and the application for the
Pawndum was filled by Mizoram Art & Cultural Society. All the Geographical Indication documents
were handed over to Art & Culture Department, Govt. of Mizoram at Secretariat Conference Hall,
Aizawl on 4th October 2019.
In order to maintain the original physical characteristics according to the GI registration, the quality
of Pawndum will be monitored by an internal watchdog mechanism. There will be a committee of
internal watchdog mechanism which consist of members such as representatives of producers and
GI experts. The Committee shall monitor, review and make suggestions on the action taken by the
concerned Departments and also to ensure whether quality is maintained post registration of
Geographical Indication regarding Pawndum.
The statute Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 came into
force in September 2003. This Act was enacted to provide protection of the distinct nature of Indian
origin goods by providing registration and to safeguard such products from infringements. It has
been enacted according to international standards under obligations of TRIPS (Trade-Related
Aspects of Intellectual Property) under Article 22-24 of Part II Section 3 of the agreement of the
World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Geographical Indication or GI is defined as an indication used to identify the goods, whether natural
or manufactured goods emanating from a particular area or territory known for a particular quality
or characteristics of the goods under Section 2(1)(e) of the Geographical Indications of Goods
(Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. Section 2(1)(f) of the Act states which of the goods can be
registered as GI. Pawndum falls under Class 24 & 25 is accepted under Sub-section (1) of Section 13
of Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.
Special Characters and Unique Features of Pawndum :
Pawndum has certain special characteristics and unique features which are as follows:-
a. The weaving quality of Pawndum is much finer compared to other Mizo dresses where the inner
and outer design of the dress is almost indistinguishable. The stripes on the Pawndum cloth follow a
certain pattern where the orientation of the cloth remains the same in both ways.
b. About an inch from the fringes, a kuthruih design is made throughout the breadth of the
Pawndum. This ‘kuthruih’ design appears like a simple braid which consists of two colours. On one
side, a red and green thread is used and on the other side a red and black thread is used.
c. The combination of colour and stripes combination in Pawndum is unique which is not found in
other kinds of dresses of Mizoram.
d. Traditionally only Mizo women used to weave Pawndum in the loin loom. With the advent of
machine looms, men too have started weaving as the industry have proved to be a good source of
e. Traditionally the looms used by the Mizos were the loin-loom. There were two pieces of cloth
which used to be woven and were delicately sewn together to form one complete dress. The two
piece of cloth measures about 22 inches each.
f. In earlier times, the material used for the ground fabric to make Pawndum was the locally
produced cotton yarn. Presently, acrylic yarns are most commonly used due to rising demand of
Pawndum. Silk is also recently introduced to make Pawndum. To make designs on Pawndum, wool,
silk, cotton or acrylic materials can be used.
g. Using the loin loom the technique involves making the design but the speciality rests in the fact
that all this embroidered work is done simultaneously alongside weaving. This facilitates the weaver
to produce more combinations showcasing their artistic talents by bringing varieties which can
seldom be made possible in any mechanical process of weaving.
As per the findings of the study, handloom sector aids in the socio-economic development of
weavers who rely on it as their primary source of income. The primary issue that the weavers faced
was related to marketing in the local area which was not satisfying. However, with the widespread
adoption of GI, it will greatly benefit the handicraft and handloom sectors, especially in protecting
and preserving the rich cultural heritage associated with them. The loin loom or back strap loom is
one of the most popular revenue sources particularly among women in Mizoram. Nowadys with the
advent of better facilities frame looms, zo looms, and fly shuttles are also being used in order to
weave Mizo dress. This product can be sold both locally and outside of the state, as well as to other
International organizations like United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
had worked for economic welfare and trade benefits for the weavers. They found that the goods
having GI Tag has the potential to generate employment opportunities. The GI Tag for Pawndum has
not only been aiding weavers to increase their incomes but also would ensure that the authenticity
of the products does not get diluted in the power-looms race in providing sub-standard products to
the average consumers. The GI registration has been able to bring a clear distinction as to what
constitutes authentic from any other look-alike. Maintaining standard of the original product, an
increase in production level and capacity to market the authentic product from remote areas of
Mizoram was made possible under the GI Protection.
Upon receiving the registration for the GI Tag, The Ministry of Textiles, under direction of the Central
Government has been successful in establishing multiple initiatives that looks into welfare of the
handloom weavers. Handloom Mark is one of the initiatives which was started to create a “collective
identity” for handloom products in India. Another vital initiative extended to the weavers has been
the Health Insurance Scheme for handloom weavers or the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna post
registration of GI. It is available for both male and female weavers, their spouse and two children.
This scheme will cover all people between the ages of 1 to 80. This scheme was initiated to
financially enable the weaver to avail the best healthcare facilities in India.
E-commerce has proved to be potential online platforms that have dedicated to make GI Protected
items easily available to the rest of the world. Holy weaves is one of such online retailers working to
ensure that. They try to promote and market the authentic handloom weaves on their online
platform. The textile and handloom industry is an important sector the Indian economy and in order
to flourish it needs significant protection both in domestic and international markets.
GI has proved to be an important aspect when it comes to promotion of Indian textile
industry. With changing economic structure around the world, the textile industry too has
been affected and came into the limelight. The Geographical Indications of Goods Act not only
protects its indigenous identity but also to safeguard the interests of Indian weavers from
infringement and or other party users taking wrong advantage of GI tag and the local
weavers who have been working for generations to preserve the heritage and rich culture of
Indian textile and handloom crafts. It also protects, spreads awareness among the consumers
from any confusion or deception.
Following are the sources:
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