GI tag for Majuli masks of Assam: History, cultural significance of the centuries-old art form.

Syllabus: GS-I, Subject: History-Art and Culture, Topic:  Art & Architecture , Issue: GI Tag

Context: The traditional Majuli masks in Assam were given a Geographical Indication (GI) tag.


Majuli masks:

  • These are handmade masks used to depict characters in bhaonas (theatrical performances) under the neo-Vaishnavite tradition.
  • The masks can depict gods, goddesses, demons, animals and birds.
  • Made of: Bamboo, clay, dung, cloth, cotton, wood and other materials.
  • The mask-making tradition is practised in Sattras (monasteries that serve as centres of religious, social, and cultural life, established by Srimanta Sankardev).

Majuli manuscript painting

  • Also received the GI tag.
  • It is a form of painting done on sanchi pat, or manuscripts made of the bark of the sanchi or agar tree, using homemade ink.

Srimanta Sankardeva (1449-1568):

  • A revered Assamese saint-scholar, poet, playwright, and social-religious reformer.
  • Established neo-vaishnavism in Assam known as Ekasarana Dharma (Shelter-in-One Religion), emphasising devotion to Krishna.
  • Rejected the caste system and offered a path to salvation through devotion, open to all genders and social classes.
  • Credited with creating new forms of
    • music (Borgeet),
    • theatrical performances (Ankia Naat),
    • dance (Sattriya), and
    • literary language (Brajavali).

Prelims Connect (Places in news):

Majuli Island:

●      Largest river island in the world and the seat of Assam’s neo-Vaishnavite tradition.

●      Location: In Assam, formed by the Brahmaputra River to the south and east, the Subansiri River to the west.


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