Lahauli hand-knit socks, gloves given Geographical Indication status : The Tribune India

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Lahauli hand-knit socks, gloves given Geographical Indication status

Lahauli hand-knit socks, gloves given Geographical Indication status

A retail outlet of indigenous socks and gloves at Lahaul.



Our Correspondent

Kullu, November 5

The indigenous hand-knitted socks and gloves of Lahaul and Spiti district have bagged the Geographical Indication (GI) tag. Save Lahaul-Spiti Society, a local NGO, has been granted the status of registered proprietor of the geographical indication “Lahauli Knitted Socks and Gloves” by the Himachal Pradesh Patent Information Centre, HP Council for Science, Technology & Environment (HIMCOSTE).

The Lahauli socks and gloves are made from indigenous wool sheared from local sheep. A Lahauli pair of socks is knit in parts, using four double pointed needles. First the cuff is knit, second the leg, and at last the heel.

The upper part of the foot is knit using eight colors into a traditional eye-catching pattern, locally called ‘dashi’, which comprises patterns composed by seven or eight types of motifs. Each ‘dashi’ is laid out in four or five rows in different colours.

Once the front portion with ‘dashi’ is ready, the sole is built and the two are joined together up till the tip of the toe. The sock is then carefully sealed with ties or knots running inwards.

Save Lahaul-Spiti Society president Prem Chand Katoch said the ‘dashi’ on the socks and gloves in Lahaul have localised cultural characteristics, making them different from elsewhere in the Himalayas. This uniqueness has to be preserved. The local names of motifs vary across Lahaul. Some examples of the names of motifs are Bumchang, Lari, Zildan, Kuru, Thingma and Kyog. He said the GI tag is definitely a promising and an encouraging start for our collective goals to preserve, protect and promote the traditional handicrafts of the Lahaul valley.

Katoch said, “Written sources on the indigenous crafts of Lahaul such as weaving and knitting are scarce but our oral history is a rich repository of social and cultural importance of handicrafts.” He said written accounts, especially on knitting in Lahaul, began to surface with the arrival of Moravian Missionaries in 1856. The wives of the missionaries, notably Maria Heyde, set up the first organised knitting school in Keylong. The school offered local women a platform to refine their knitting skills, redesign and reinvent indigenous motifs and commercialise their products. This creative exchange of skills and knowledge played a major role in strengthening and sustaining the craft of knitting over generations, he added.

Save Lahaul-Spiti Society vice-president Vikram Katoch said Lahauli women undoubtedly were the backbone of this craft. He said, “Thanks to their efforts, we have been able to sustain this craft till date. With the granting of the GI status to Lahauli socks and gloves registered as “Lahauli Knitted Socks and Gloves’’, Save Lahaul-Spiti Society aims to help Self Help Groups, Non Governmental Organisations, individual local enterprises and small-scale businesses in Lahaul to market their products better. The aim is to not only produce the highest quality products but also ensure optimum and fair prices to artisans of Lahaul and Spiti.”

Made from local sheep wool

  • The traditional Lahauli socks and gloves are made from indigenous wool sheared from local sheep.
  • Socks are knit in parts, using four double-pointed needles.
  • First the cuff is knit, second the leg, and at last the heel.
  • The upper part of the foot is knit using eight colors into a traditional eye-catching pattern, locally called 'dashi'.

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