GI tag sought for Namakkal Kalchatti

He had filed an application for Geographical Indications (GI) on behalf of Namakkal Stone Products Manufacturers Association, Namakkal and MSME Technology Development Centre (Process and Product Development Centre) for Namakkal ‘Makkal Pattirangal’ (soapstone vessels).
GI tag sought for Namakkal Kalchatti
Cookware made of soapstone stocked in Namakkal.

COIMBATORE: Traditionally handcrafted soapstone cookware are all part of grandma’s kitchen as they give unique taste to the dish. Even in this fast changing lifestyle, these sturdy cooking utensils are preferred by people for their special properties. Rightfully Namakkal artisans have applied for Geographical Indication (GI) tag for it.

Nevertheless, this unique ‘kalchattis’ (cookware), made out of soapstone, are given shape by skilled artisans from the hinterlands of Namakkal district. “More than 200 families in and around Semmandapatti village are involved in making soap stone utensils. The benefit of cooking in soapstone utensils is that they are good insulators and can retain heat for longer as compared to other metals and clay utensils. Also, the stone is unsusceptible to corrosion by acids and alkalis, resistant to germs, possess low water absorption ability and can bear heavy loads,” said P Sanjai Gandhi, government advocate, High Court of Madras and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Attorney.

He had filed an application for Geographical Indications (GI) on behalf of Namakkal Stone Products Manufacturers Association, Namakkal and MSME Technology Development Centre (Process and Product Development Centre) for Namakkal ‘Makkal Pattirangal’ (soapstone vessels).

Unlike the modern day wares, a ‘kalchatti’ has to be seasoned by pouring warm starch water before use to make them stronger. The soapstone used for making the cookware is sourced from across the district as well as from the adjoining areas of ‘Periasoragai’, ‘Aranganur’, ‘Tholasampatty’, ‘Marakottai’ and ‘Kongupatty’ of Omalur Taluk in Salem district.

Soapstone have been in use since ancient times and are an excellent medium for cooking tamarind based dishes and are ideal to store pickles, milk and curd. “These handmade utensils exhibit the exquisite craftsmanship of artists from Namakkal. They have a rough and porous surface and texture, which is a unique feature of the Namakkal makkal stone work as against the usual polished surfaces of other soapstone products,” said P Sanjai Gandhi.

Apart from cookwares like dosa pan, vessel, ‘kuzhipaniyaram’ plates, the artisans from this region also chisel out lamps, idols, incense stands, candle stands, paperweights, toys and miniature figurines.

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