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GI tag for Majuli masks of Assam

Published: 14th Mar, 2024

GI tag for Majuli masks of Assam


The traditional Majuli masks in Assam were given a Geographical Indication (GI) tag by the Centre. Majuli manuscript painting also got the GI label.


About Majuli Masks

  • Majuli, the largest river island in the world and the seat of Assam’s neo-Vaishnavite tradition, has been home to the art of mask-making since the 16th century.
  • The Samaguri satra located in Majuli stands as the epicenter of mask-making art in the region. 
  • The handmade masks are traditionally used to depict characters in bhaonas, or theatrical performances with devotional messages under the neo-Vaishnavite tradition, introduced by the 15th-16th century reformer saint Srimanta Sankardeva.
  • The masks can depict gods, goddesses, demons, animals and birds — Ravana, Garuda, Narasimha, Hanuman, Varaha Surpanakha all feature among the masks.
  • They can range in size from those covering just the face (mukh mukha), which take around five days to make, to those covering the whole head and body of the performer (cho mukha), which can take up to one-and-a-half months to make.

Manuscript Painting (xasipaat)

  • Manuscript painting is practiced on the barks of Aquilaria malaccensis, locally known as ‘Sashi’ (agarwood tree).
  • Manuscript paintings depict stories from Hindu mythological epics such as Ramayana, Mahabharata, and the Bhagavata Purana.
  • These paintings primarily focus on events related to Lord Krishna, and the Bhagavata Purana is a testament to that.
  • The region is known for three popular styles of manuscript writing, namely Gargayan script, Kaithall, and Bamunia.

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