Majuli’s Mask Craft & Manuscript Paintings Gets GI Tag, A Time-Honoured Tradition Since The 1500s

The GI tag draws attention to Majuli's artistic traditions on a global scale.

by Tejashee Kashyap
Majuli’s Mask Craft & Manuscript Paintings Gets GI Tag, A Time-Honoured Tradition Since The 1500s

Assam’s Majuli Island is a sanctuary of cultural vibrancy and artistic heritage. Within its verdant landscapes and tranquil surroundings lie two exquisite jewels of traditional craftsmanship. Now, Majuli has been recognised for its traditional arts of Mukha Xilpo (mask-making) and manuscript painting with the renowned Geographical Indication (GI) tag.

GI Tag For Majuli’s Art Traditions

The Center’s GI tag acknowledges the rich cultural legacy and historical significance of these age-old folk crafts. On X (formerly Twitter), Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma expressed his happiness at this momentous occasion. He emphasised how this acknowledgement will safeguard the rich cultural heritage of the state’s artisans.

In the heart of Majuli, Mukha Xilpo or mask masking is a time-honoured tradition that dates back to the 1500s. The masks of Majuli serve myriad purposes, from sacred rituals and theatrical performances to ceremonial festivities and tribal traditions. Similarly, the Bhagavata Purana narratives of Lord Krishna are depicted in Majuli’s Manuscript Paintings. They highlight artistic skill and cultural legacy. The distinctiveness is found in the manuscript writing styles of Kaithall, Bamunia, and Gargayan script.

In addition to safeguarding these crafts, the GI tag draws attention to Majuli’s artistic abilities on a global scale.

Also Read: What Is Assam’s Renowned Raas Mahotsav? Here’s All You Need To Know About The Traditional Drama

About These Art Traditions

Majuli’s natural splendour and diverse cultural offerings amaze everyone. It is a special place that captivates tourists with its tranquil settings, abundant vegetation, and lively culture. The traditional arts of mask-making and manuscript paintings stand as resilient symbols of Assam’s identity and heritage.

The art of mask-making or Mukha Xilpo transcends mere craftsmanship. Each mask bears intricate details, reflecting the artisan’s work. From the fierce visage of Lord Narasimha to Lord Krishna, these masks encapsulate the diverse Hindu mythology. Through apprenticeships and familial legacies, artisans pass down their skills from generation to generation. Moreover in a rapidly modernising world, the masks of Majuli stand as guardians of tradition.

Similarly, rooted in the Bhakti movement of medieval Assam, these illuminated manuscripts create visual narratives that transcend time and space. Each manuscript painting is a masterpiece of precision and devotion. They adorn the walls of monastic libraries and prayer halls, where they evoke devotion.

Majuli captivates you with its vibrant cultural scene hence, do plan to visit soon.

Cover image credits: X/Himanta Biswa Sarma