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The Kulala Handicraft Artisan Welfare Association a few days back has applied for the Geographical Indication (GI) tag for the famous clay toys which are made at Vilacherysituated in Thiruparankundram, Madurai. The MSME Intellectual Property Facilitation Centre and NABARD’s Madurai Agri-Business Incubation Forum acted as the facilitators for this particular application. However, the application was filed by Mr. P. Sanjai Gandhi. He is an advocate at High Court and also an IPR attorney. Interestingly, officials of the Geographical Indication Registry in Chennai also confirmed the act of filing this application.
“The toys are made of clay from the Vilachery tank and nearby places. All the artisans here make dolls by using a mold and paint them by hand. These artisans live around the villages of Vilachery, Melamathur, Keelamathur, Melakuyilkudi, Keelakuyilkudi, Thuvariman, Sambakudi, Karadipatti, Tattanur and Vadivelkarai of Madurai West taluk,” said Mr. Gandhi. If we have a close look at the historical details that are given in the application then we will come to know that the artisans of Vilachery worshipped at a Karuppannaswamy temple. It is believed that this temple was 300 years old. Further, it is also stated that the statue of the main deity of the temple was made of burned clay as per their tradition. However, Vilachery villagers were known as the developers and administrators of the temple. There are a lot of colorful mud horses of various sizes inside the temple, which were believed to be donated by several potters during the annual festival of ‘Purattasi’. This festival is celebrated in Tamil month. “Every year, new horses replace the older ones, which are dissolved in the pond. These are the evidence that people from Vilachery have been making clay dolls for long,” Mr. Gandhi said.
It is stated by Mr. P. Sivakumar that the filing of the application was supported by three major establishments i.e., the MSME Intellectual Property Facilitation Centre, NABARD, and Madurai District Tiny and Small-Scale Industries Association (MADITSSIA). Mr. Sivakumar is the CEO of the NABARD-Madurai Agri-Business Incubation Forum. “The current business volume of these toys is around Rs15 crore, and it can be increased to Rs50 crores with new marketing strategies. There are over 550 families and 250 manufacturers involved in this business. These products are exported to the United States, Germany, Malaysia, Singapore, and the West Asian countries through merchants. The manufacturers are not exporting directly,” he notes.