Manvar desert camp in Rajasthan is blessed to be located in a land as diverse and rich with culture as Rajasthan. Throughout history, this state has seen thousands of iterations of kingdoms and traditions in each of the various districts of the state. Some of the cultural components throughout history have gained a great deal of significance both within the state and outside, even internationally, and thus have a special marker to denote their importance.
In this post, we’ll be talking about the various geographical indicator tags of Rajasthan that you must not miss when doing a Rajasthan tour. You can even find some of these tags at our desert camp in Jaisalmer!
GI tags are names or icons used on certain products that are best identified with a certain place. India has 365 geographical tags overall, while Rajasthan is home to nearly 14 of those, throughout the entire state. The GI tags for Rajasthan are as follows:
Kota Doria Handicraft: A unique artwork on fabric from its namesake town, Kota. Beautiful designs on pure cotton clothing!
Blue Pottery of Jaipur Handicraft: An inspiring form of handicraft whose roots lie in the middle East. The name comes from the cobalt blue dye that was commonly used.
Molela Clay Work Handicraft: Exquisite terracotta art from the village of Molela. Painstaking hard work goes into crafting these figurines and bas-reliefs from clay!
Kathputlis of Rajasthan Handicraft: The famed wooden dolls of Rajasthan that have supposed tribal roots, are now commonplace throughout the entire state and indeed the country.
Sanganeri Hand Block Printing Handicraft: Another form of block printing on fabric that dates back to nearly 500 years. Originally from Gujarat, the craft made its way in the 16th century to Rajasthan.
Bikaneri Bhujia Food Stuff: Yet another famous cultural identity of Rajasthan, this delicious snack is the heartthrob of every Indian at some level.
Bagru Hand Block Print Handicraft: An elegant form of imprinting designs onto fabric using natural dyes, Bagru is slowly being revived all over Rajasthan for its cultural value.
Thewa Art Work Handicraft: An extremely intricate, labor intensive method of jewelry making that remains a family secret and is highly sought after around the world.
Pokhran Pottery Handicraft Rajasthan: Pokhran has had the art of pottery in its region for centuries and is now seeing a revival thanks to state government and cooperative society efforts.
In detail, let us now explore some of the GI tags around our desert camp!
An interesting product that actually has influences from the South, Kota Doria is a style of fabric weaving unique to the city of Kota. The fabric is printed in sets of small squares on a handloom and is said to have originated from Mysore. The threads usually consist of lightweight fabrics like cotton although royalty insisted that there also be gold and silver thread used in the making. Eventually, Kota Doria became its own art form and is a renowned form of weaving across the country.
An intricate artform from the village of Molela, these figures and sculptures made from clay are a common sight in most parts of Udaipur and the surrounding villages. The art form itself is said to have been a tradition for over 5000 years in Rajasthan. Pure clay mixed with manure is used to make the finer sculptures while impure clay may be used in making the firing kiln. Along with decorative sculptures, the terracotta is also used in shaping utensils and functional utilities like bowls, plates and glasses.
A likely GI tag that you will have seen on the internet or on your travels. Kathputlis are the charming wooden puppets used by locals in a miniature theatre performance across Rajasthan. The origin of the Kathputlis is uncertain, but they are said to be nearly a millennium old. Some state that the Bhat community of tribals in Rajasthan were the inventors, but regardless of who invented it the art spread across the state like fire. Today nearly every performance in Rajasthan makes use of the Kathputlis.
Food items are also common GI tags in India owing to its diverse culinary segments. The most popular snack in Rajasthan originates from the fabled city of Bikaner and was produced there in the early 19th century within the palace walls of Maharaja Shri Dungar Singh. This savoury snack made from gram flour and spices is a treat to all your senses and is a must-try along with a refreshing drink at the bar in our desert camp in Jodhpur!
From Pratapgarh district in Rajasthan comes a rare and exquisite form of art. Thewa jewellery is a delicate form of jewellery where sheets of gold are intricately placed onto molten glass and crafted according to design. The jewels use a mixture of terracotta, gold, silver and glass. The process is time-consuming and often takes up to a month just to craft a single piece of jewellery, making this a truly exemplary piece of art. Thewa is also a closely guarded secret and in fact a family affair, because of which only a handful of jewellers in the village are aware of the process.
If you step into our desert camp near Jodhpur, chances are you will not miss the impeccable hand printed fabric on the luxury tents. These hail from the village of Bagru, near Jaipur. Bagru’s traditional method of using wooden blocks to print dye onto fabric has been hailed for centuries now and the art continues to flourish with the addition of the GI tag.
About 60 km away from Manvar, on featureless roads with the sand dunes quickly rising up ahead and sometimes flowing onto the roads, Pokhran is a nondescript town with many villages, away from civilization, deep in the desert country of Rajasthan. A humble fire burns here in the kilns of these villages for centuries, maybe millennia, as terracotta work from Harappa civilization not very far from here has artefacts dating back thousands of years.