Shatranji earns GI recognition
Shatranji, a traditional fabric of Rangpur, has been recognised as a Geographical Indication (GI) product of Bangladesh.
This move will benefit weavers and traders of the industry in branding the regional cloth in a better way at home and abroad.
Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun handed over the recognition certificate to Mushtaq Hasan, chairman of the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), at a programme yesterday.
The ministry's Department of Patents, Designs and Trademarks (DPDT) registered Shatranji as the country's GI product following a BSCIC application on July 11, 2019. This is yet another product that has earned recognition as GI product after Jamdani and Hilsha fish.
According to World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), GI is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. This recognition came at a time when the traditional industry in Rangpur was struggling to survive as demand from home and abroad has diminished amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
According to local traders, the increasing price of raw materials has made it difficult for producers to continue running operations.
Around 50,000 people of Rangpur are involved in the industry, some 95 per cent of whom are women.
However, traders said the recognition of Shatranji, which comes in the form of rugs, placemats and carpets, would play a helpful role in the growth of the industry at both home and abroad.
Zakia Sultana, secretary to the industries ministry, said through the recognition, the unique identity of the fabric can be presented before the world and this move would strengthen the Shatranji-based economy.
"We have many more products in different districts. The patents of those products have not been collected so far for various reasons. We are working harder on these issues now," she added.
BSCIC Chairman Md Mostaque Hassan said, "It's good news for us. This product will now represent us in the world. No one from another country can claim it as their product anymore. This will further build up the image of the entrepreneurs and the country. This is a milestone for us."
Shatranji is woven by hand on the ground with the aid of bamboo and rope. The beauty and durability of Shatranji are worth mentioning.
It is believed by locals that Shatranji has long been crafted in the region since the Mughal era.
Before 1830, Shatranji was weaved in a village named Pirpur in Rangpur sadar upazila, according to historians. Carpets and tapestries were used as home decor by wealthy families at that time.
Later, Pirpur village was renamed Nisbetganj in 1880 to commemorate the contribution of Nisbet, the then district collector of Rangpur who patronised the local Shatranji weavers, according to the Bengal District Gazetteer published in 1912.
Shatranji fabric became popular and flourished during the British era and its trade expanded to India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and other areas abroad.
But the industry fell into crisis after the Partition of India, thanks to the advent of modern machine-made products which forced many artisans to switch to other professions.
The industry finally ended up surviving on a very small scale in Rangpur.