The hand-crafted stone sculptures of Mamallapuram have been granted the Geographical Indications (GI) tag by the GI registry, in recognition of the art’s uniqueness to the region.
GI protection affords better legal protection against infringement and authorises the GI tag-holder to initiate penal action against violators in case of false claim and deviation in quality, said GI attorney and advocate P Sanjai Gandhi, who filed the application on behalf of Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation Limited.
Now that the state-owned corporation has been recognised as the GI tag-holder, it has become the authorised user of Mahabalipuram Stone Sculpture name. Artisans and others willing to beneficially utilise the brand could register themselves with the body.
Mahabalipuram stone sculpture is characterised by a wide forehead, sharp nose, long eyes, hanging ears and oval shaped face, usually with double chins. Male and female sculptures are slender and curvaceous to look at, and symbolise perfection in terms of beauty, the notification explained.
Referring to the rich cave architecture, rock architecture and structural temples in Mamallapuram area, it said techniques used in these historic pieces of art were still practised by present sculptors, who had exceptional skills and possessed ability to replicate complex pieces of art of the Pallava era. Sculptors of Mamallapuram recreate these products in the form of gods, and scenes from Tamil literature, it said.
As for the proof of origin, the notification said the style dates back to early seventh century when art and architecture flourished under the Pallava kings. Rock-cut architecture still remains the most definitive trait of the Pallava School of art, and a lion’s share of their art and architecture still remained in Mamallapuram, it added. Mamallapuram sculptors still use hammer and-chisel technique for carving, it said, adding that they still follow the time-consuming process enunciated in various Shilpa Shastras.