How To Check The Authenticity & Quality of Imported Handicrafts From India?
The globalization of the economies and world trade has made it possible for consumers to access some of the finest products from countries across the world. This has opened the doors to a treasure trove of various products from countries such as India; ranging from some of the renowned tourist spots to a more untapped realm of exquisite and unique products that arise from there. One of the most sought-after products from countries such as India are its different handcrafted products that vary from the traditional to the experimental. The Indian craft movement is booming and becoming increasingly popular all over the world thanks to the internet and social channels. The key to success in maintaining an authentic and quality Indian craft business is to give the right platform to share their work and showcase their skills.
International competition is hardly the problem for Indian handicrafts, the primary concern for anyone in the handmade industry is the competitive threat posed by those who produce replica handicrafts. The problem is, these well-engineered, mass-manufactured replicas are marketed as handcrafted pieces by these corporations. As a result, Indian artisans and their unique artistic niche are losing income and market share as a result of increased fake imports.
There has been a shift in government attention toward certain measures in order to make it easier to distinguish between genuine and these mass produced handicrafts. A system of tags has been established, based on industry, to guarantee authenticity, ensuring the quality of the product. Tags such as Handloom, Woolmark, and Silkmark have been established so that buyers can buy more consciously.
A trademark is a sign that is used to identify a particular company, a service they provide, and distinguish them from their competition. Examples of trademarks include distinctive words, letters, numerals, drawings, pictures, shapes, colors or advertising slogans, among others. It is in the best interests of a business to use a trademark to distinguish their goods or services from similar or identical products produced by competitors. The law also helps protect the company from counterfeiters and helps prevent individuals from registering deceptive trademarks. When someone applies for a trademark and falsely implies that a good or service has an indigenous origin it can be easily identified.
Geographical indications are symbols that can be displayed or used for goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess certain qualities and are characteristics that are inextricably linked to that place of origin. Handicrafts born from natural resources, with qualities derived from their geographical penchant, may be eligible for registration. With the Help of the Government of India, there are a total of 191 products from various regions of India which have received the GI.
Following is a list of the most popular handicraft products that have been granted GI tags in India:
- Salem fabric – Tamil Nadu
- Aranmula Kannadi – Kerala
- Kancheepuram Silk – Tamil Nadu
- Mysore Silk – Karnataka
- Nakshi Kantha – West Bengal
- Madhubani Paintings – Bihar
- Blue Pottery of Jaipur – Rajasthan
- Kani Shawl – Jammu & Kashmir
- Kutch Embroidery – Gujarat
- Orissa Ikat – Odisha
- Solapur Chaddar – Maharashtra
- Pochampalli Ikat – Andhra Pradesh
- Chanderi fabric – Madhya Pradesh
- Kullu Shawl – Himachal Pradesh
- Bastar Dhokra – Chhattisgarh
List credit: Caleidoscope
Here are a few famous Indian crafts and how a conscious consumer can distinguish between buying authentic Indian hand made crafts rather than a fake replica
Authentic Silk Sarees
Silk yarns, which have been produced for centuries through spinning by hand on some kind of traditional looms, can be extraordinarily intricate. Artisans spend their whole lives meticulously designing and weaving minute details, something that machinery cannot naturally compete with. Between natural silk and synthetic polyester, it’s hard to tell the difference by touch. One way to recognize genuine silk saree cloth fabric is to burn a single fibre from the cloth and determine if the thread leaves a plastic-like residue behind, displaying a positive indication of the fabric’s quality. No natural fibre will leave behind a plastic like residue.
Genuine Art Metalware
The class of metals used for carving idols and making jewellery and utensils is very broad and includes various metals like gold, silver, copper, and brass. Now the question is how one can check the authenticity of these products.
Gold: If your gold item is floating in water, you know it is not real gold. Beyond that, rust or tarnishing on your gold item is a definite indication that it is not real gold, as gold doesn’t rust or get tarnished. Also, trademarks and hallmarks are a great way of understanding the genuinity of the handicraft. A hallmark on your gold jewellery, in order to be considered India-export, must have a Bureau of Indian Standard mark which is marked in the form of a triangle in its design.· To ensure purity in karat and fineness, look for the Caratage (22K915).
Silver: If there’s an engraving on it that says “STERLING” or “STER” on it, it means that the silver it is made of is 92.5% or close to pure silver. Another way to identify the purity of silver jewelry is to look for the symbol ‘IS’ which means that it is International Silver.
Brass: You can make a clear-cut difference between brass and non-brass items with the help of a magnet, since brass items are non-magnetic.
Handcrafted Handloom shawls
Irregular weaves are a mark of genuinity of handloom shawls like Pashmina. When it comes to Pashmina, the standard dimensions for a given weave or knit is 36/80 inches. Another way is the static. The Government of India had a new and exclusive GI Certification to the Kashmir region to the items that meet all required quality and safety requirements. As you examine your Kashmiri Pashmina Shawl, you will notice a particular mark on the label as it is imprinted on the fabric in the form of a label on every hand woven Kashmiri Pashmina Shawl.
Other Factors To Consider:
There are more factors such as motifs/designs, materials, and techniques that can also help in determining the genuinity of the products.
Materials play an important role. Handmade products use high quality, locally sourced materials that speak volumes about the region that it originates from. Be it a shawl or pottery items, the materials used will give you a better understanding of the genuinity of the hand made product.
A lot of factors have impacted the forming of motifs with ethnic handmade products over the decades or centuries, which includes climate, culture. For a well versed buyer, who understands the region and the history of the culture,it is easy to understand the motifs and designs that go into the making of the handicrafts. The history behind each motif is clearly visible to a trained eye.
Analyzing the process of making such ethnic handicrafts and the process of making a selected item to determine whether they were original or not is not that simple. Some techniques are extremely complex and need months and days of an artisan’s time to comeple. For example, it takes over a few months to make a Banarasi silk saree by hand, however, there are few machine made knock-offs that can be manufactured earlier. The technique to create these handmade treasures remains and it’s only in understanding the process one can truly get more clarity on the genuinity of the products.
Determining the genuinity of the millions of handicraft that are available could be more difficult than you can imagine. However, awareness and a little in-depth research. Taking into account the above mentioned factors can help one differentiate between a fake and a genuine, hand crafted masterpiece.
Fake items become less valuable over time, usually because they are inferior to the real products in terms of quality and workmanship. An original work has artistic value that increases over time. This is one of the main reasons why we should buy original handicrafts. It’s important to understand which state and region of India the handicraft was made in as every place has its own culture and values that affect the making of the handicrafts. Reading about them or taking advice from people who are well versed in regional handicrafts is another way to stay away from the mass produced fake crafts. However, the safest bet would be to go ahead and buy genuine ethnic crafts from reliable and trustworthy sellers or artisans who can guarantee the authenticity of the products.