Zitierweise | cite as: Amarasiṃha <6./8. Jhdt. n. Chr.>: Nāmaliṅgānuśāsana (Amarakośa) / übersetzt von Alois Payer <1944 - >. -- 2. Dvitīyaṃ kāṇḍam. -- 16. śūdravargaḥ (Über Śūdras). -- 2. Vers 5 - 15: Handwerker. -- Beispiele zu: 220.127.116.11. Goldschmied. -- Fassung vom 2017-10-28. -- URL: http://www.payer.de/amarakosa8/18.104.22.168.goldschmied.htm
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"THE GOLDSMITH (thattan [தட்டான்]).
A marked characteristic of Indian life is an excessive fondness for jewellery. This distinguishes even the lower classes of society, and it is one of the chief causes of national poverty. Hence the services of the goldsmith cannot be dispensed with in Indian villages. He is one of the five artisans of India. The men of this class do not intermarry ; they have their own priests, and do not allow any of the Brahmin priests to officiate for them; but they imitate the Brahmins in all their ceremonies. Their girls must be married before they attain womanhood, and widow-marriage is strictly prohibited. The use of flesh and of alcohol is nominally forbidden. But, nevertheless, they indulge in drink, and eat fish and flesh, to a large extent. This particular class of artisans bury their dead in a sitting posture, but cremation is also practised amongst them. They have the general title of Achari [ஆசாரி], and some of them are called Pattan [
பட்டன்], which is the equivalent of the Brahmin Bhatta [भट्ट]. Every village has a goldsmith, who, like other artisans, belongs to a separate and distinct class. The son of a goldsmith cannot be anything else but a goldsmith. He is unlike a dhoby [டோபி] or a barber, in rendering his services to the villagers. Money is always flowing into his hands. In some places he lives in grand style, like the landlords. He has his workshop in his own house, and his tools are a few hammers of different sizes, pincers, and tongs, a few moulds, and a furnace made out of a broken earthen vessel; with these wonderful instruments he turns out really beautiful jewellery. He makes ear-rings and finger-rings for both sexes. He also makes bangles, nose-jewels, ankle· jewels, toe-jewels, upper ear-ornaments, belts, head-ornaments, etc., and these are of good workmanship. He makes other jewels for children—kungumany and aramoody, to conceal the nakedness of boys and girls. Some make these jewels in gold, and others in silver, according to their circumstances. He employs one or two to assist him in his work, and all of them are well-trained rogues. Suppose a village goldsmith receives 150 rupees (£ 10) from Mrs. A-- for making a pair of gold bangles, on January 15, 1897. He assures her that she can have her jewels on February 1, 1897. He takes the money, and goes home. As soon as he reaches his house, his wife comes to meet him with a smiling countenance, to find out whether he has brought money with him. The goldsmith then gives the money to his wife, who keeps it in his box. After this he takes his meal, and sits to his work. Then his wife comes near to him, and whispers in his ears of the vows which they have to fulfil to their family gods. She says that it is very dangerous to put off the fulfilment of the vows to some future time, as she had some strange and fearful dreams last night. In fact, she says that one of her children is suffering from fever, and surely the god will be angry with him if they do not pacify him at an early date. So she readily gets the consent of her husband to the offering of a blood sacrifice to their family god. They fix an auspicious day for that purpose, and she freely makes use of the money from Mrs. A-- in purchasing a fat ram, fruits, flowers, cocoanuts, perfumes, and other necessary things. In this way she spends some 40 rupees, and the remaining no rupees are utilized by the goldsmith for making jewels for which he has already taken money from others, and used for his own benefit. In the meantime Mrs. A-- visits the house of the goldsmith, in order to find out what progress he has made with her jewels. The goldsmith receives her with great courtesy, and treats her with kindness. He expresses his sorrow for not being able to purchase gold of good quality, as the market has been dull for some days, and so he has sent his man to a distant town to buy some good sovereigns. With this satisfactory word Mrs. A-- returns home. About February 15 Mrs. A-- goes to the gold smith to fetch her bangles. But now she finds the goldsmith is absent. She goes on the following day, but still in vain. She goes again and again, but she cannot find him. At last she reports the shabby treatment of the goldsmith to her husband. Now the husband goes, with the determination to take from him either the money or the bangles. This would be about the beginning of March. Now the village goldsmith is caught by Mr. A--. The goldsmith, with his usual cunning, takes out a long piece of gold which he had bought for somebody else, and shows it to Mr. A--, and begs him to exercise a little more patience—at least, for a week longer. About March 20 Mr. A-- turns up again at the goldsmith’s house. Now the goldsmith has gone to a neighbouring village on some business. His wife appears, and shows Mr. A-- all the spirit that a woman can show, and pacifies him with kind words and promises, so that he consents to wait for another week. For the third time Mr. A-- goes to the goldsmith at the beginning of April, and uses harsh words, such as ‘scoundrel,’ 'rogue,’ and ‘liar’ in the presence of many people. At this time the goldsmith is working on a jewel for somebody else, and this Mr. A-- appropriates as security. At last the village goldsmith finishes the bangles within three days, and takes them to Mr. A--; he, being satisfied with the weight and quality of the gold of the bangles, accepts them, and pays his wages—six shillings.
After some time Mrs. A-- is disposed to sell her bangles, so she sends them to market. But all those who desire to buy the jewels value them for less than four sovereigns, because they find too much copper inside the bangles. This is but an illustrative instance of hundreds of cases which occur in the rural parts of India.
The village goldsmith reaps a fine harvest when people make their marriage-tie (tali [
தாலி]). As a rule, none of the villagers will care to find out the weight, or to test the quality, of the gold out of which the tali [தாலி] is made, for it is considered amongst them as a bad omen either to weigh or to find out the value of the tali [தாலி]. Hence this offers a fine opportunity for the village goldsmith to rob more than half of the gold given to him for this purpose, and to make a large addition of copper.
There are often poor people who, having given money to the goldsmith to prepare jewels for them, get tired of visiting the goldsmiths, so these men succeed in dodging them for years together.
The village goldsmiths are up to all sorts of schemes. They sometimes leave their own village and live in another village, where they show great honesty and strict punctuality in delivering jewels. Thus they gain the goodwill and confidence of these villagers, who consider their goldsmiths to be exceptional people of that class. Having gained the confidence of the people, the goldsmith will induce the village ladies to order valuable jewels. When he has collected enough from them he simply bolts from the village with the money. Sometimes the goldsmith works in the daytime in one village and spends his night in another village ; and so he dodges about. If anyone goes to a goldsmith while he is working, he may see as many as ten persons, in an hour’s time, bitterly complaining of his long delay in making their jewels.
In the case of rich and influential villagers, such as the headman of the village, or some other leader of the place, the goldsmith goes to his house, and opens his workshop there until he has finished his jewel. But here also he finds out how to dodge. He works the whole day in the house of the villager, and in the night he works in his own house, and so he finishes two jewels at the same time. Somehow he robs the villager of his jewel, and replaces it with his own, which he prepared in his house during the nights. The jewel of the goldsmith is nothing but a large addition of copper with gold.
Sometimes the village goldsmith gives to the people their jewels weighing more than the weight given to him. If the villager gives to the goldsmith gold weighing two sovereigns, he gives in return a jewel weighing two and a quarter sovereigns. If the villager asks why it is so, then the goldsmith demands from him extra money. But, in fact, the undue proportion of copper causes the overweight.
It is said of the goldsmith proverbially that 'thai poonneelum ma poon adduppan,’ i.e., a goldsmith will rob even something out of what is given him by his mother for a jewel. There is a common saying among the people that the god Siva [சிவன்] himself is afraid of a goldsmith, and so he wears a cobra round his neck. Hence the poet sang, ‘Thattanuku angee alio anninthan arran surpathayia.’ It is also said that no one could cope with a thattan [தட்டான்] (goldsmith) in lying. The poet himself bursts out in his melody in praise of this liar, saying, ‘ thattan pulukukku yatta thu kannum ratna supapatheya.’
On one occasion a high-caste Brahmin woman gave a goldsmith some money to make a jewel for her. As usual, the goldsmith delayed in making the jewel. The woman, being greatly annoyed at the long delay, went to the goldsmith’s house at mid-day, and addressed the goldsmith in a rough way, and called him all sorts of names. Then she spread her upper garments on the floor and laid herself down, telling the goldsmith that she would not leave the house unless he gave her either the jewel or the money. The thattan [தட்டான்], in his usual shuffling way, was working with the jewels belonging to someone else. But the woman was quietly lying down in the workshop. As the day was hot, and she was very tired, she went to sleep. Seeing the determination of the courageous Brahmin woman, the cunning thattan [தட்டான்] was up to his mischief. He went near the Brahmin woman, who was fast asleep, and applied the gum to her eyelids. When the woman awoke from her slumber, she found that she could not open her eyes. She cried loudly, and called to the thattan [தட்டான்] for help. ‘ What is the matter with you ?’ said the goldsmith. ‘ I find that I cannot open my eyes,’ said the Brahmin woman. ‘ I see our goddess has made you blind. You have been abusing me all this day. I was patient; but my goddess was not patient with you, and so she made you blind,’ said the goldsmith. ‘Very well; what can I do ?’ asked the Brahmin woman. ‘You should make an offering to my goddess,’ replied the goldsmith. ‘Yes ; you can give all the money which I gave you for a jewel to your goddess and get me back my sight, as I have a large number of children and a husband to care for,’ said the Brahmin woman. Immediately the goldsmith washed her eyes with cold water, and she was able to open them, and went on her way thanking the thattan [தட்டான்], and thinking what a powerful goddess the village goldsmith’s was.
We could multiply instances to show the cunning of the village goldsmith. But space does not permit. Suffice it to say that the village goldsmith, with all his craftiness, supplies the villagers with ornaments of excellent workmanship, and that the villagers are loaded with jewels. The village goldsmith can say, like Demetrius of old, 'Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.’"
[Quelle: Pandian, T. B. (Thomas B.) [பாண்டியன், தாமஸ் பி] <1863 - >: Indian village folk: their works and ways. -- London : Stock, 1898. -- 212 S. : Ill. ; 21 cm. -- S. 38 - 44]
"Sonjhara [सोनझरा], Jhara [झरा], Jhora [झोरा], Jhira.—
1. Origin and constitution of the caste
A small occupational caste who wash for gold in river-beds, belonging to the Sambalpur [ସମ୍ବଲପୁର], Mandla [मन्द्ला], Bālāghāt [बालाघाट] and Chanda [चंद्रपूर] Districts and the Chota Nāgpur [छोटा नागपुर] Feudatory States. In 1911 they numbered about 1500 persons. The name probably comes from sona [सोना], gold, and jhārna [झाड़ना], to sweep or wash, though, when the term Jhara [झरा] only is used, some derive it from jhori, a streamlet. Colonel Dalton surmised that the Sonjharas [सोनझरा] were an offshoot of the Gonds [गोंड], and this appears to be demonstrated by the fact that the names of their exogamous septs are identical with Gond [गोंड] names as
- Marābi [मरावी],
- Tekām [तेकाम],
- Netām [नेताम],
- Dhurwa [धुर्वा] and
The Sonjharas [सोनझरा] of Bilāspur [बिलासपुर] say that their ancestors were Gonds [गोंड] who dwelt at Lānji [लांजी] in Bālāghāt [बालाघाट]. The caste relate the tradition that they were condemned by Mahādeo [महादेओ / महादेव] to perpetual poverty because their first ancestor stole a little gold from Pārvati’s [पार्वती] crown when it fell into the river Jamuna [जमुना] (in Chota Nāgpur [छोटा नागपुर]) and he was sent to fetch it out. The metal which is found in the river sands they hold to be the remains of a shower of gold which fell for two and a half days while the Banāphar [बनाफर] heroes Alha [आल्हा] and Udal [ऊदल] were fighting their great battle with Prithvi Rāj [पृथ्वीराज, 1165 - 1192], king of Delhi. The caste is partly occupational, and recruited from different sources. This is shown by the fact that in Chanda [चंद्रपूर] members of different septs will not eat together, though they are obliged to intermarry. In Sambalpur [ସମ୍ବଲପୁର] the Behra, Pātar, Nāik and Padhān septs eat together and intermarry. Two other septs, the Kanar and Peltrai who eat fowls and drink liquor, occupy a lower position, and members of the first four will not take food from them nor give daughters to them in marriage, though they will take daughters from these lower groups for their sons. Here they have three subcastes, the Laria or residents of Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़], the Uriya [ଓଡ଼ିଆ] belonging to the Uriya [ଓଡ଼ିଆ] country, and the Bhuinhār, who may be an offshoot from the Bhuiya tribe.2. Totemism.
They have one recorded instance of totemism, which is of some interest. Members of the sept named after a tree called kausa revere the tree and explain it by saying that their ancestor, when flying from some danger, sought protection from this tree, which thereupon opened and enfolded him in its trunk. No member of the sept will touch the tree without first bathing, and on auspicious occasions, such as births and weddings, they will dig up a little earth from the roots of the tree and taking this home worship it in the house. If any member of the sept finds that he has cut off a branch or other part of this tree unwittingly he will take and consign it to a stream, observing ceremonies of mourning. Women of the Nāg [नाग] or cobra sept will not mention the name of this snake aloud, just as they refrain from speaking the names of male relatives.
Marriage within the sept is forbidden, and they permit the intermarriage of the children of a brother and sister, but not of those of two sisters, though their husbands may be of different septs. Marriage is usually adult except in Sambalpur [ସମ୍ବଲପୁର], where a girl must be provided with a husband before reaching maturity in accordance with the general rule among the Uriya [ଓଡ଼ିଆ] castes. In Chhindwāra [छिंदवाडा] it is said that the Sonjharas [सोनझरा] revere the crocodile and that the presence of this animal is essential at their weddings. They do not, however, kill and cat it at a sacrificial feast as the Singrore Dhīmars [धीमर] are reported to do, but catch and keep it alive, and when the ceremony is concluded take it back again and deposit it in a river. After a girl has been married neither her father nor any of her own near relatives will ever take food again in the house of her husband’s family, saying that they would rather starve. Each married couple also becomes a separate commensal group and will not eat with the parents of either of them. This is a common custom among low castes of mixed origin where every man is doubtful of his neighbour’s parentage. Divorce and the remarriage of widows are permitted, and a woman may be divorced merely on the ground of incompetence in household management or because she does not please her husband’s parents.
4. Customs at birth.
At child-birth they make a little separate hut for the mother near the river where they are encamped, and she remains in it for two days and a half. During this time her husband does no work ; he stays a few paces distant from his wife’s hut and prepares her food but does not go to the hut or touch her, and he kindles a fire between them. During the first two days the woman gets three handfuls of rice boiled thin in water, and on the third day she receives nothing until the evening, when the Sendia or head of the sept takes a little cowdung, gold and silver in his hand, and pouring water over this gives her of it to drink as many times as the number of gods worshipped by her family up to seven. Then she is pure. On this day the father sacrifices a chicken and gives a meal with liquor to the caste and names the child, calling it after one of his ancestors who is dead. Then an old woman beats on a brass plate and calls out the name which has been given in a loud voice to the whole camp so that they may all know the child’s name. In Bilāspur [बिलासपुर] the Sonjharas [सोनझरा] observe the custom of the Couvade, and for six days after the birth of a child the husband lies prone in his house, while the wife gets up and goes to work, coming home to give suck to the child when necessary. The man takes no food for three days and on the fourth is given ginger and raw sugar, thus undergoing the ordinary treatment of a woman after childbirth. This is supposed by them to be a sort of compensation for the labours sustained by the woman in bearing the child. The custom obtains among some other primitive races, but is now rapidly being abandoned by the Sonjharas [सोनझरा].5. Funeral rites.
The bodies of the old are cremated as a special honour, and those of other persons are buried. No one other than a member of the dead man’s family may touch his corpse under a penalty of five rupees. A relative will remove the body and bury it with the feet pointing to the river or burn it by the water’s edge. They mourn a child for one day and an adult for four days, and at the end the mourner is shaved and provides liquor for the community. If there be no relative, since no other man can touch the corpse, they fire the hut over it and burn it as it is lying or bury hut and body under a high mound of sand.
Their principal deities are Dulha Deo [दुल्हादेव], the boy bridegroom, Nira his servant, and Kauria a form of Devi [देवी]. Nira lives under an ūmar [ऊमर - Ficus racemosa] tree and he and Dulha Deo [दुल्हादेव] his master are worshipped every third year in the month of Māgh [माघ] (January). Kauria is also worshipped once in three years on a Sunday in the month of Māgh [माघ] with an offering of a cocoanut, and in her honour they never sit on a cot nor sleep on a stool because they think that the goddess has her seat on these article's. The real reason, however, is probably that the Sonjharas [सोनझरा] consider the use of such furniture an indication of a settled life and permanent residence, and therefore abjure it as being wanderers. Some analogous customs have been recorded of the Banjāras [बंजारा]. They also revere the spirit of one of their female ancestors who became a Sati [सती]. They sacrifice a goat to the genius loci or spirit haunting the spot where they decide to start work ; and they will leave it for fear of angering this spirit, which is said to appear in the form of a tiger, should they make a particularly good find.2 They never keep dogs, and it is said that they are defiled by the touch of a dog and will throw away their food if one comes near them during their meal. The same rule applies to a cat, and they will throw away an earthen vessel touched by either of these animals. On the Diwāli [दीवाली] day they wash their implements, and setting them up near the huts worship them with offerings of a cocoanut and vermilion.
2 Bālāghāt Gazetteer, C. E. Low, p. 207.7. Social customs.
Their rule is always to camp outside a village at a distance of not less than a mile. In the rains they make huts with a roof of bamboos sloping from a central ridge and walls of matting. The huts are built in one line and do not touch each other, at least a cubit’s distance being left between each. Each hut has one door facing the cast. As a rule they avoid the water of village wells and tanks, though it is not absolutely forbidden. Each man digs a shallow well in the sand behind his hut and drinks the water from it, and no man may drink the water of his neighbour’s well ; if he should do so or if any water from his well gets into his neighbour’s, the latter is abandoned and a fresh one made. If the ground is too swampy for wells they collect the water in their wooden washing-tray and fill their vessels from it. In the cold weather they make little leaf-huts on the sand or simply camp out in the open, but they must never sleep under a tree. When living in the open each family makes two fires and sleeps together between them. Some of them have their stomachs burned and blackened from sleeping too near the fire. The Sonjharas [सोनझरा] will not take cooked food from the hands of any other caste, but their social status is very low, about equivalent to that of the parent Gond [गोंड] tribe. They have no fear of wild animals, not even the children. Perhaps they think that as fellow-denizens of the jungle these animals are kin to them and will not injure them.
The traditional occupation of the caste is to wash gold from the sandy beds of streams, while they formerly also washed for diamonds at Hirākud [ହୀରାକୁଦ] on the Mahānadi [ମହାନଦୀ] near Sambalpur [ସମ୍ବଲପୁର] and at Wairāgarh [वैरागड] in Chānda. The industry is decaying, and in 1901 only a quarter of the total number of Sonjharas [सोनझरा] were still employed in it. Some have become cultivators and fishermen, while others earn their livelihood by sweeping up the refuse dirt of the workshops of goldsmiths and brass-workers ; they wash out the particles of metal from this and sell it back to the Sunārs [सुनार]. The Mahānadi [ମହାନଦୀ] and Jonk [ଜଙ୍କ] rivers in Sambalpur [ସମ୍ବଲପୁର], the Banjar [बंजर] in Mandla [मन्द्ला], the Son [सोन] and other rivers in Bālāghāt [बालाघाट], and the Wainganga [वैनगंगा] and the eastern streams of Chānda contain minute particles of gold. The washers earn a miserable and uncertain livelihood, and indeed appear not to desireanything beyond a bare subsistence. In Bhandāra [भंडारा] it is said that they avoid any spot where they have previously been lucky, while in Chānda they have a superstition that a person making a good find of gold will be childless, and hence many dread the search. When they set out to look for gold they wash three small trayfuls at three places about five cubits apart. If they find no appreciable quantity of gold they go on for one or two hundred yards and wash three more trayfuls, and proceed thus until they find a profitable place where they will halt for two or three days. A spot in the dry river-bed is usually selected at the outside of a bend, where the finer sediment is likely to be found ; after removing the stones and pebbles from above, the sand below is washed several times in circular wooden cradles, shaped like the top of an umbrella, of diminishing sizes, until all the clay is removed and fine particles of sand mixed with gold are visible. A large wooden spoon is used to stir up the sediment, which is washed and rubbed by hand to separate the gold more completely from the sand, and a blackish residue is left, containing particles of gold and mercury coloured black with oxide of iron. Mercury is used to pick up the gold with which it forms an amalgam. This is evaporated in a clay cupel called a ghariya by which the mercury is got rid of and the gold left behind."
[Quelle: Russell, R. V. (Robert Vane) <1873-1915> ; Hīra Lāl <Rai Bahadur> [हीरालाल <राय बहादुर>] <1873 - 1923>: The tribes and castes of the Central Provinces of India. -- London: MacMillan, 1916. -- 4 Bde. : Ill. -- Bd. 4. -- S. 509 - 514]
"Sunār [सुनार],1 Sonār [सोनार], Soni [सोनी], Hon-Potdār [पोतदार], Sarāf [सर्राफ].—
1 This article is partly based on an article by Mr. Raghunāth Prasād, E.A.C., formerly Deputy Superintendent of Census, with extracts from the late Mr. Nunn’s Monograph on the Gold and Silver Industries, and on information furnished by Krishna Rao, Revenue Inspector, Mandla [मन्द्ला].
1. General notice of the caste.
The occupational caste of goldsmiths and silversmiths. The name is derived from the Sanskrit Suvarna kdr, a worker in gold. In 1911 the Sunārs [सुनार] numbered 96,000 persons in the Central Provinces and 30,000 in Berār [बेरार]. They live all over the Province and are most numerous in the large towns. The caste appears to be a functional one of comparatively recent formation, and there is nothing on record as to its origin, except a collection of Brāhmanical legends of the usual type. The most interesting of these as related by Sir H. Risley is as follows :22 Tribes and Castes of Bengal, art. Sunār.
“In the beginning of time, when the goddess Devi [देवी] was busy with the construction of mankind, a giant called Sonwa-Daitya, whose body consisted entirely of gold, devoured her creations as fast as she made them. To baffle this monster the goddess created a goldsmith, furnished him with the tools of his art, and instructed him how to proceed. When the giant proposed to eat him, the goldsmith suggested to him that if his body were polished his appearance would be vastly improved, and asked to be allowed to undertake the job. With the characteristic stupidity of his tribe the giant fell into the trap, and having had one finger polished was so pleased with the result that he agreed to be polished all over. For this purpose, like Aetes [Αἰήτης] in the Greek legend of Medea [Μήδεια], he had to be melted down, and the goldsmith, who was to get the body as his perquisite, giving the head only to Devi [देवी], took care not to put him together again. The goldsmith, however, overreached himself. Not content with his legitimate earnings, he must needs steal a part of the head, and being detected in this by Devi [देवी], he and his descendants were condemned to be for ever poor.”
The Sunārs [सुनार] also have a story that they are the descendants of one of two Rājpūt [राजपूत] brothers, who were saved as boys by a Sāraswat Brāhman [सारस्वत ब्राह्मण] from the wrath of Parasurāma [परशुराम] when he was destroying the Kshatriyas [क्षत्रिय]. The descendants of the other brother were the Khatris [खत्री]. This is the same story as is told by the Khatris [खत्री] of their own origin, but they do not acknowledge the connection with Sunārs [सुनार], nor can the Sunārs [सुनार] allege that Sāraswat Brāhmans [सारस्वत ब्राह्मण] eat with them as they do with Khatris [खत्री]. In Gujarāt [ગુજરાત] they have a similar legend connecting them with Banias [बनिया]. In Bombay [मुंबई] they also claim to be Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण], and in the Central Provinces a caste of goldsmiths akin to the Sunārs [सुनार] call themselves Vishwa Brāhmans [विश्वब्राह्मण]. On the other hand, before and during the time of the Peshwas [पेशवे], Sunārs [सुनार] were not allowed to wear the sacred thread, and they were forbidden to hold their marriages in public, as it was considered unlucky to see a Sunār [सुनार] bridegroom. Sunār [सुनार] bridegrooms were not allowed to see the state umbrella or to ride in a palanquin, and had to be married at night and in secluded places, being subject to restrictions and annoyances from which even Mahārs [महार] were free.1 Their raison d'etre may possibly be found in the fact that the Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण], all-powerful in the Poona [पुणे] state, were jealous of the pretensions of the Sunārs [सुनार], and devised these rules as a means of suppressing them. It may be suggested that the Sunārs [सुनार], being workers at an important urban industry, profitable in itself and sanctified by its association with the sacred metal gold, aspired to rank above the other artisans, and put forward the pretensions already mentioned, because they felt that their position was not commensurate with their deserts. But the Sunār [सुनार] is included in Grant-Duff’s list of the twenty-four village menials of a Marātha [मराठा] village, and consequently he would in past times have ranked below the cultivators, from whom he must have accepted the annual presents of grain.
1 Bombay Gazetteer, vol. xvii. p. 134.
2. Internal structure.
The caste have a number of subdivisions, nearly all of which are of the territorial class and indicate the various localities from which it has been recruited in these Provinces.
The most important subcastes are
- the Audhia [अवधिया] from Ajodhia [अयोध्या] or Oudh [अवध];
- the Purānia [पुराणिया] or old settlers;
- the Bundelkhandi [बुंदेलखंडी] from Bundelkhand [बुंदेलखंड] ;
- the Mālwi [माळवी] from Mālwa [माळवा] ;
- the Lād from Lāt, the old name for the southern portion of Gujarāt [ગુજરાત] ;
- and the Mair, who appear to have been the first immigrants from Upper India and are named after Mair, the original ancestor, who melted down the golden demon.
Other small groups are
- the Pātkars, so called because they allow pāt or widow-marriage, though, as a matter of fact, it is permitted by the great majority of the caste ;
- the Pāndhare [पांढरे] or ‘White Sunārs [सुनार] ’;
- and the Ahīr [अहीर] Sunārs [सुनार], whose ancestors must presumably have belonged to the caste whose name they bear.
The caste have also numerous bainks or exogamous septs, which differ entirely from the long lists given for Bengal [বঙ্গ] and the United Provinces, and show, as Mr. Crooke remarks, the extreme fertility with which sections of this kind spring up. In the Central Provinces the names are of a titular or territorial nature. Examples of the former kind, that is, a title or nickname supposed to have been borne by the sept’s founder, are :
- Dantele, one who has projecting teeth ;
- Kāle [काळे], black ;
- Munde [मुण्डे], bald ;
- Kolhīmāre [कोल्हीमारे], a killer of jackals ; and
- Ladaiya, a jackal or a quarrelsome person.
Among the territorial names are
- Narwaria [नरवरिया] from Narwar [नरवर];
- Bhilsainyān from Bhilsa [भिलसा];
- Kanaujia [कन्नौजिया] from Kanauj [कन्नौज];
- Dillīwāl [दिल्लीवाल] from Delhi [दिल्ली] ;
- Kālpiwāl [कालपीवाल] from Kālpi [कालपी].
Besides the bainks or septs by which marriage is regulated, they have adopted the Brāhmanical eponymous gotra [गोत्र]-names as
- Kashyap [कश्यप],
- Garg [गर्ग],
- Sāndilya [शाण्डिल्य],
- and so on.
These are employed on ceremonial occasions as when a gift is made for the purpose of obtaining religious merit, and the gotra [गोत्र]-name of the owner is recorded, but they do not influence marriage. The use of them is a harmless vanity analogous to the assumption of distinguished surnames by people who were not born to them.3. Marriage and other customs.
Marriage is forbidden within the sept. In some localities persons descended from a common ancestor may not intermarry for five generations, but in others a brother’s daughter may be wedded to a sister’s son. A man is forbidden to marry two sisters while both are alive, and after his wife’s death he may espouse her younger sister, but not her elder one. Girls are usually wedded at a tender age, but some Sunārs [सुनार] have hitherto had a rule that neither a girl nor a boy should be married until they had had smallpox, the idea being that there can be no satisfactory basis for a contract of marriage while either party is still exposed to such a danger to life and personal appearance ; just as it might be considered more prudent not to buy a young dog until it had had distemper. But with the spread of vaccination the Sunārs [सुनार] are giving up this custom. The marriage ceremony follows the Hindustāni [हिंदुस्तानी / ہندوستانی] or Marātha [मराठा] ritual according to locality. In Betūl [बैतूल] the mother of the bride ties the mother of the bridegroom to a pole with the ropes used for tethering buffaloes and beats her with a piece of twisted cloth, until the bridegroom’s mother gives her a present of money or cloth and is released. The ceremony may be designed to express the annoyance of the bride’s mother at being deprived of her daughter. Polygamy is permitted, but people will not give their daughter to a married man if they can find a bachelor husband for her. Well-to-do Sunārs [सुनार] who desire increased social distinction prohibit the marriage of widows, but the caste generally allow it.
The caste venerate the ordinary Hindu deities, and many of them have sects and return themselves as Vaishnavas [वैष्णव], Saivas [शैव] or Sāktas [शाक्त]. In some places they are said to make a daily offering to their melting-furnace so that it may bring them in a profit. When a child has been born they make a sacrifice of a goat to Dulha Deo [दुल्हादेव], the marriage-god, on the following Dasahra [दशहर] festival, and the body of this must be eaten by the family only, no outsider being allowed to participate. In Hoshangābād [होशंगाबाद] it is stated that on the night before the Dasahra [दशहर] festival all the Sunārs [सुनार] assemble beside a river and hold a feast. Each of them is then believed to take an oath that he will not during the coming year disclose the amount of the alloy which a fellow-craftsman may mix with the precious metals. Any Sunār [सुनार] who violates this agreement is put out of caste. On the 15th day of Jeth [जेठ] (May) the village Sunār [सुनार] stops work for five days and worships his implements after washing them. He draws pictures of the goddess Devi [देवी] on a piece of paper and goes round the village to affix them to the doors of his clients, receiving in return a small present.
The caste usually burn their dead and take the ashes to the Nerbudda [नर्मदा] or Ganges [गंगा] ; those living to the south of the Nerbudda [नर्मदा] always stop at this river, because they think that if they crossed it to go to the Ganges [गंगा], the Nerbudda [नर्मदा] would be offended at their not considering it good enough. If a man meets with a violent death and his body is lost, they construct a small image of him and burn this with all the proper ceremonies. Mourning is observed for ten or thirteen days, and the shrāddh [श्राद्ध] ceremony is performed on the anniversary of a death, while the usual oblations are offered to the ancestors during the fortnight of Pitr Paksh [पितृपक्ष] in Kunwār [कुंवार] (September).
5. Social position.
The more ambitious members of the caste abjure all flesh and liquor, and wear the sacred thread. These will not take cooked food even from a Brāhman [ब्राह्मण]. Others do not observe these restrictions. Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] will usually take water from Sunārs [सुनार], especially from those who wear the sacred thread. Owing to their association with the sacred metal gold, and the fact that they generally live in towns or large villages, and many of their members are well-to-do, the Sunārs [सुनार] occupy a fairly high position, ranking equal with, or above the cultivating castes. But, as already stated, the goldsmith was a village menial in the Marātha [मराठा] villages, and Sir D. Ibbetson thinks that the Jāt [जाट] really considers the Sunār [सुनार] to be distinctly inferior to himself.
6. Manufacture of ornaments.
The Sunār [सुनार] makes all kinds of ornaments of gold and silver, being usually supplied with the metal by his customers. He is paid according to the weight of metal used, the rate varying from four annas to two rupees with an average of a rupee per tola [तोला] [तोला] weight of metal for gold, and from one to two annas per tola [तोला] weight of silver.1 The lowness of these rates is astonishing when compared with those charged by European jewellers, being less than 10 per cent on the value of the metal for quite delicate ornaments. The reason is partly that ornaments are widely regarded as a means for the safe keeping of money, and to spend a large sum on the goldsmith’s labour would defeat this end, as it would be lost on the reconversion of the ornaments into cash. Articles of elaborate workmanship are also easily injured when worn by women who have to labour in the fields or at home. These considerations have probably retarded the development of the goldsmith’s art, except in a few isolated localities where it may have had the patronage of native courts, and they account for the often clumsy form and workmanship of his ornaments. The value set on the products of skilled artisans in early times is nevertheless shown by the statement in M‘Crindle’s Ancient India that any one who caused an artisan to lose the use of an eye or a hand was put to death.2 In England the jeweller’s profit on his wares is from 33 to 50 per cent or more, in which, of course, allowance is made for the large amount of capital locked up in them and the time they may remain on his hands. But the difference in rates is nevertheless striking, and allowance must be made for it in considering the bad reputation which the Sunār [सुनार] has for mixing alloy with the metal. Gold ornaments are simply hammered or punched into shape or rudely engraved, and are practically never cast or moulded. They are often made hollow from thin plate or leaf, the interior being filled up with lac. Silver ones are commonly cast in Saugor [सागर] and Jubbulpore [जबलपुर], but rarely elsewhere. The Sunār [सुनार]’s trade appears now to be fairly prosperous, but during the famines it was greatly depressed and many members of the caste took to other occupations.
1 Monograph on the Gold and Silverware of the Central provinces (Mr. H. Nunn, I.C.S.], 1904. The tola [तोला] is a rupee’s weight, or two-fifths of an ounce.
2 Journal of Indian Art, July 1909, p. 172.
Many Sunārs [सुनार] make small articles of brass, such as chains, bells and little boxes. Others have become cultivators and drive the plough themselves, a practice which has the effect of spoiling their hands, and also prevents them from giving their sons a proper training. To be a good Sunār [सुनार] the hands must be trained from early youth to acquire the necessary delicacy of touch. The Sunār’s [सुनार] son sits all day with his father watching him work and handling the ornaments. Formerly the Sunār [सुनार] never touched a plough. Like the Pekin ivory painter—
From early dawn he works ;
And all day long, and when night comes the lamp
Lights up his studious forehead and thin hands.
7. The sanctity of gold.
As already stated, the Sunār [सुनार] obtains some social distinction from working in gold, which is a very sacred metal with the Hindus. Gold ornaments must not on this account be worn below the waist, as to do so would be considered an indignity to the holy material. Marātha [मराठा] and Khedāwāl [खेड़ावाल] Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] women will not have ornaments for the head and arms of any baser metal than gold. If they cannot afford gold bracelets they wear only glass ones. Other castes should, if they can afford it, wear only gold on the head. And at any rate the nose-ring and small earrings in the upper ear should be of gold if worn at all. When a man is at the point of death, a little gold, Ganges [गंगा] water, and a leaf of the tulsi [तुलसी] or basil plant are placed in his mouth, so that these sacred articles may accompany him to the other world. So valuable as a means of securing a pure death is the presence of gold in the mouth that some castes have small pieces inserted into a couple of their upper teeth, in order that wherever and whenever they may die, the gold may be present to purify them.1
1 From a monograph on rural customs in Saugor, by Major W. D. Sutherland, I.M.S.
The metals which are used for currency, gold, silver and copper, are all held sacred by the Hindus, and this is easily explained on the grounds of their intrinsic value and their potency when employed as coin. It may be noted that when the nickel anna coinage was introduced, it was held in some localities that the coins could not be presented at temples as this metal was not sacred.8. Ornaments. The marriage ornaments.
It can scarcely also be doubted in view of this feeling that the wearing of both gold and silver in ornaments is considered to have a protective magical effect, like that attributed to charms and amulets. And the suggestion has been made that this was the object with which all ornaments were originally worn. [...] The precious metals, as has been seen, are usually sacred among primitive people, and when made into ornaments they have the same sanctity and protective virtue as jewels. The subject has been treated 2 with great fullness of detail by Sir J. Campbell, and the different ornaments worn by Hindu women of the Central Provinces point to the same conclusion. The bindia [बिंदिया] or head ornament of a Marāthaच् Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] woman consists of two chains of silver or gold and in the centre an image of a cobra erect. This is Shesh-Nāg [शेषनाग], the sacred snake, who spreads his hood over all the lingas [लिंग] of Mahādeo [महादेओ / महादेव] and is placed on the woman’s head to guard her in the same way. The Kurmis [कुर्मी] [कुर्मी] and other castes do not have Shesh-Nāg [शेषनाग], but instead the centre of the bindia [बिंदिया] consists of an ornament known as bīja [बीज], which represents the custard-apple, the sacred fruit of Sīta [सीता]. The nathni [नथनी] or nose-ring, which was formerly confined to high-caste women, represents the sun and moon. The large hoop circle is the sun, and underneath in the part below the nose is a small segment, which is the crescent moon and is hidden when the ornament is in wear. On the front side of this are red stones, representing the sun, and on the underside white ones for the moon. The nathni [नथनी] has some mysterious connection with a woman’s virtue, and to take off her nose-ring—nathni utārna [नथनी उतारना]—signifies to dishonour a woman (Platts). In northern India women wear the nosering very large and sometimes cover it with a piece of cloth to guard it from view or keep it in parda [पर्दा]. It is possible that the practice of Hindu husbands of cutting off the nose of a wife detected in adultery has some similar association, and is partly intended to prevent her from again wearing a nose-ring. The toe ornament of a high-caste woman is called bichhia [बिछिया] and it represents a scorpion (bichhu [बिच्छू]). A ring on the big toe stands for the scorpion’s head, a silver chain across the foot ending in another ring on the little toe is his body, and three rings with high projecting knobs on the middle toes are the joints of his tail folded back. It is of course supposed that the ornament protects the feet from scorpion bites. These three ornaments, the bindia [बिंदिया], the nathni [नथनी] and the bichhia [बिछिया], must form part of the Sohāg [सोहाग] or wedding dowry of every high-caste Hindu girl in the northern Districts, and she cannot be married without them. But if the family is poor a laong [लौंग] or gold stud to be worn in the nose may be substituted for the nose-ring. This stud, as its name indicates, is in the form of a clove, which is sacred food and is eaten on fast-days. Burning cloves are often used to brand children for cold ; a fresh one being employed for each mark. A widow may not wear any of these ornaments ; she is always impure, being perpetually haunted by the ghost of her dead husband, and they could thus be of no advantage to her ; while, on the other hand, her wearing them would probably be considered a kind of sacrilege or pollution of the holy ornaments.
2 Bombay Gazetteer, Poona, App. D., p. 453. Ornaments.
LIST OF ORNAMENTS, FROM LEFT TO RIGHT.
Three bracelets on top of board, from left to right :—
- —Anklet with links like coils of a snake.
- —Tora [तोडा], or solid anklet.
- —Naugrihi [नौग्रही], or wristlet of nine planets.
Second row, from left to right : —
- —Large nathni [नथनी], or nose-ring.
- —Another naugrihi [नौग्रही].
- —Bīja [बीज], or custard apple worn on head above bindia [बिंदिया].
- —Bindia [बिंदिया], or ornament worn on head.
- —Hamel [हमेल], or necklace of rupees with betel-leaf pendant.
Third row, from left to right :—
- —Small nathni [नथनी], or nose-ring.
- —Bora, or waistband with beads like smallpox postules.
- —Kantha [कंथा], or gold necklace.
- —Bolita, or circlet for upper arm.
- —Hasli [हसली], or necklet like collar-bone.
Fourth row, from left to right :—
- —Karanphūl, or earring like marigold.
- —Paijan [पैजण], or hollow tinkling anklet.
- —Dhara [ढारा], or earring like shield.
- —Another anklet.
- —Another armlet, called “ koparbela."
9. Beads and other ornaments.
In the Marātha [मराठा] Districts an essential feature of a wedding is the hanging of the mangal-sūtram [मंगलसूत्रम] or necklace of black beads round the bride’s neck. All beads which shine and reflect the light are considered to be efficacious in averting the evil eye, and a peculiar virtue, Sir J. Campbell states, attaches to black beads. A woman wears the mangal-sūtram [मंगलसूत्रम] or marriage string of beads all her life, and considers that her husband’s life is to some extent bound up in it. If she breaks the thread she will not say ‘ my thread is broken,’ but ‘my thread has increased ’; and she will not let her husband see her until she has got a new thread, as she thinks that to do so would cause his death. The many necklaces of beads worn by the primitive tribes and the strings of blue beads tied round the necks of oxen and ponies have the same end in view. A similar belief was probably partly responsible for the value set on precious stones as ornaments, and especially on diamonds, which sparkle most of all. The pearl is very sacred among the Hindus, and Madrasis [மதராஸ்] put a pearl into the mouth at the time of death instead of gold. Partly at least for this purpose pearls are worn set in a ring of gold in the ear, so that they may be available at need. Coral is also highly esteemed as an amulet, largely because it is supposed to change colour. The coral given to babies to suck may have been intended to render the soft and swollen gums at teething hard like the hard red stone. Another favourite shape for beads of gold is that of grains of rice, rice being a sacred grain. The gold ornament called Kantha [कंथा] worn on the neck has carvings of the flowers of the singāra [सिंघाड़ा - Trapa natans] or waternut. This is a holy plant, the eating of which on fast-days gives purity. Hence women think that water thrown over the carved flowers of the ornament when bathing will have greater virtue to purify their bodies. Another favourite ornament is the Hamel [हमेल] or necklace of rupees. The sanctity of coined metal would probably be increased by the royal image and superscription and also by its virtue as currency. Mr. Nunn states that gold mohur [मोहर] coins are still made solely for the purpose of ornament, being commonly engraved with the formula of belief of Islam and worn by Muhammadans as a charm. Suspended to the Hamel [हमेल] or necklace of rupees in front is a silver pendant in the shape of a betel-leaf, this leaf being very efficacious in magic and on this is carved either the image of Hanumān [हनुमान], the god of strength, or a peacock’s feather as a symbol of Kārtikeya [
कार्त्तिकेय], the god of war. The silver bar necklet known as hasli [हसली] is intended to resemble the collar-bone. Children carried in their mother’s cloth are liable to be jarred and shaken against her body, so that the collar-bone is bruised and becomes painful. It is thought that the wearing of a silver collar-bone will prevent this, just as silver eyes are offered in smallpox to protect the sufferer’s eyes and a silver wire to save his throat from being choked. Little children sometimes have round the waist a band of silver beads which is called bora ; these beads are meant to resemble the smallpox pustules and the bora protects the wearer from smallpox. There are usually 84 beads, this number being lucky among the Hindus. At her wedding a Hindu bride must wear a wristlet of nine little cones of silver like the kalas[कळस] or pinnacle of a temple. This is called nau-graha [नौग्रह] or nau-giri [नौगिरि] and represents the nine planets which are worshipped at weddings—that is, the sun, moon and the five planets, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn, which were known to the ancients and gave their names to the days of the week in many of the Aryan languages ; while the remaining two are said to have been Rahu [राहु] and Ketu [केतु], the nodes of the moon and the demons which cause eclipses. The bonhta or bānkra, the rigid circular bangle on the upper arm, is supposed to make a woman’s arm stronger by the pressure exercised on the veins and muscles. Circular ornaments worn on the legs similarly strengthen them and prevent a woman from getting stiffness or pins and needles in her legs after long squatting on the ground. The chutka, a large silver ring worn by men on the big toe, is believed to attract to itself the ends of all the veins and ligaments from the navel downwards, and hold them all braced in their proper position, thus preventing rupture.
On their feet children and young girls wear the Paijan [पैजण] or hollow anklet with tinkling balls inside. But when a married woman has had two or three children she leaves off the Paijan [पैजण] and wears a solid anklet like the Tora [तोडा] or kasa. It is now said that the reason why girls wear sounding anklets is that their whereabouts may be known and they may be prevented from getting into mischief in dark corners. But the real reason was probably that they served as spirit scarers, which they would do in effect by frightening away snakes, scorpions and noxious insects ; for it is clear that the bites of such reptiles and insects, which often escape unseen, must be largely responsible for the vast imaginative fabric of the belief in evil spirits, just as Professor Robertson Smith demonstrates that the jins [جن] or genii of Arabia were really wild animals. In India, owing to the early age of marriage and the superstitious maltreatment of women at child-birth, the mortality among girls at this period is very high ; and the Hindus, ignorant of the true causes, probably consider them especially susceptible to the attacks of evil spirits.10. Earpiercing.
Before treating of ear-ornaments it will be convenient to mention briefly the custom of ear-piercing. This is universal among Hindus and Muhammadans, both male and female, and the operation is often performed by the Sunār [सुनार]. The lower Hindu castes and the Gonds [गोंड] consider piercing the ears to be the mark of admission to the caste community. It is done when the child is four or five years old, and till then he or she is not considered to be a member of the caste and may consequently take food from anybody. The Rāj-Gonds [राजगोंड] will not have the ears of their children pierced by any one but a Sunār [सुनार] ; and for this they give him sidha [सीधा] or a seer (2 lbs.) of wheat, a seer of rice and an anna. Hindus employ a Sunār [सुनार] when one is available, but if not, an old man of the family may act. After the piercing a peacock’s feather or some stalks of grass or straw are put in to keep the hole open and enlarge it. A Hindu girl has her ear pierced in five places, three being in the upper ear, one in the lobe and one in the small flap over the orifice. Muhammadans make a large number of holes all down the ear and in each of these they place a gold or silver ring, so that the ears are dragged down by the weight. Similarly their women will have ten or fifteen bangles on the legs. The Hindus also have this custom in Bhopāl [भोपाल], but if they do it in the Central Provinces they are chaffed with having become Muhammadans. In the upper ear Hindu women have an ornament in the shape of the genda [गेंदा - Tagetes spp.] or marigold, a sacred flower which is offered to all the deities. The holes in the upper and middle ear are only large enough to contain a small ring, but that in the lobe is greatly distended among the lower castes. The tarkhi [तरकी] or Gond [गोंड] ear-ornament consists of a glass plate fixed on to a stem of ambāri fibre nearly an inch thick, which passes through the lobe. As a consequence the lower rim is a thin pendulous strip of flesh, very liable to get torn. But to have the hole torn open is one of the worst social mishaps which can happen to a woman. She is immediately put out of caste for a long period, and only readmitted after severe penalties, equivalent to those inflicted for getting vermin in a wound. When a woman gets her ear torn she sits weeping in her house and refuses to be comforted. At the ceremony of readmission a Sunār [सुनार] is sometimes called in who stitches up the ear with silver thread. Low-caste Hindu and Gond [गोंड] women often wear a large circular embossed silver ornament over the ear which is known as Dhara [ढारा] or shield and is in the shape of an Indian shield. This is secured by chains to the hair and apparently affords some support to the lower part of the ear, which it also covers. Its object seems to be to shield and protect the lobe, which is so vulnerable in a woman, and hence the name. A similar ornament worn in Bengal [বঙ্গ] is known as dhenri and consists of a shield-shaped disk of gold, worn on the lobe of the ear, sometimes with and sometimes without a pendant.
11. Origin of earpiercing.
The character of the special significance which apparently attaches to the custom of ear-piercing is obscure. Dr. Jevons considers that it is merely a relic of the practice of shedding the blood of different parts of the body as an offering to the deity, and analogous to the various methods of self-mutilation, flagellation and gashing of the flesh, whose common origin is ascribed to the same custom.
“To commend themselves and their prayers the Quiches pierced their ears and gashed their arms and offered the sacrifice of their blood to their gods. The practice of drawing blood from the ears is said by Bastian to be common in the Orient; and Lippert conjectures that the marks left in the ears were valued as visible and permanent indications that the person possessing them was under the protection of the god with whom the worshipper had united himself by his blood offering. In that case earrings were originally designed, not for ornament, but to keep open and therefore permanently visible the marks of former worship. The marks or scars left on legs or arms from which blood had been drawn were probably the origin of tattooing, as has occurred to various anthropologists.”1
1 Introduction to the History of Religion, 3rd ed. p. 172.
This explanation, while it may account for the general custom of ear-piercing, does not explain the special guilt imputed by the Hindus to getting the lobe of the ear torn. Apparently the penalty is not imposed for the tearing of the upper part of the ear, and it is not known whether men are held liable as well as women ; but as large holes are not made in the upper ear at all, nor by men in the lobe, such cases would very seldom occur. The suggestion may be made as a speculation that the continuous distension of the lobe of the ear by women and the large hole produced is supposed to have some sympathetic effect in opening the womb and making child-birth more easy. The tearing of the ear might then be considered to render the women incapable of bearing a child, and the penalties attached to it would be sufficiently explained.12. Ornaments worn as amulets.
The above account of the ornaments of a Hindu woman is sufficient to show that her profuse display of them is not to be attributed, as is often supposed, to the mere desire for adornment. Each ornament originally played its part in protecting some limb or feature from various dangers of the seen or unseen world. And though the reasons which led to their adoption have now been to a large extent forgotten and the ornaments are valued for themselves, the shape and character remain to show their real significance. Women as being weaker and less accustomed to mix in society are naturally more superstitious and fearful of the machinations of spirits. And the same argument applies in greater degree to children. The Hindus have probably recognised that children are very delicate and succumb easily to disease, and they could scarcely fail to have done so when statistics show that about a quarter of all the babies born in India die in the first year of age. But they do not attribute the mortality to its real causes of congenital weakness arising from the immaturity of the parents, insanitary treatment at and after birth, unsuitable food, and the general frailty of the undeveloped organism. They ascribe the loss of their offspring solely to the machinations of jealous deities and evil spirits, and the envy and admiration of other people, especially childless women and witches, who cast the evil eye upon them. And in order to guard against these dangers their bodies are decorated with amulets and ornaments as a means of protection. But the result is quite other than that intended, and the ornaments which are meant to protect the children from the imaginary terrors of the evil eye, in reality merely serve as a whet to illicit cupidity, and expose them a rich, defenceless prey to the violence of the murderer and the thief.
13. Audhia Sunārs [अवधिया सुनार].
The Audhia Sunārs [अवधिया सुनार] usually work in bell-metal, an alloy of copper or tin and pewter. When used for ornaments the proportion of tin or pewter is increased so as to make them of a light colour, resembling silver as far as may be. Women of the higher castes may wear bell-metal ornaments only on their ankles and feet, and Marātha [मराठा] and Khedāwāl [खेड़ावाल] Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] may not wear them at all. In consequence of having adopted this derogatory occupation, as it is considered, the Audhia Sunārs [अवधिया सुनार] are looked down on by the rest of the caste. They travel about to the different village markets carrying their wares on ponies ; among these, perhaps, the favourite ornament is the kara [कडा] or curved bar anklets, which the Audhia [अवधिया] works on to the purchaser’s feet for her, forcing them over the heels with a piece of iron like a shoe-horn. The process takes time and is often painful, the skin being rasped by the iron. The woman is supported by a friend as her foot is held up behind, and is sometimes reduced to cries and tears. High-caste women do not much affect the kara [कडा] as they object to having their foot grasped by the Sunār [सुनार]. They wear instead a chain anklet which they can work on themselves. The Sunārs [सुनार] set precious stones in ornaments, and this is also done by a class of persons called Jadia, who do not appear to be a caste. Another body of persons accessory to the trade are the Niarias, who take the ashes and sweepings from the goldsmith’s shop, paying a sum of ten or twenty rupees annually for them. They wash away the refuse and separate the grains of gold and silver, which they sell back to the Sunārs [सुनार]. Niaria also appears to be an occupational term, and not a caste.14. The Sunār [सुनार] as moneychanger.
Formerly Sunārs [सुनार] were employed for counting and testing money in the public treasuries, and in this capacity they were designated as Potdār [पोतदार] and Sarāf [सर्राफ] or Shroff. Before the introduction of the standard English coinage the moneychanger’s business was important and profitable, as the rupee varied over different parts of the country exactly as grain measures do now. Thus the Pondicherry [பாண்டிச்சேரி] rupee was worth 26 annas, while the Gujarāt [ગુજરાત] rupee would not fetch 12½ annas'in the bazar. In Bengal [বঙ্গ], at the beginning of the nineteenth century, people who wished to make purchases had first to exchange their rupees for cowries. The Potdār [पोतदार] carried his cowries to market in the morning on a bullock, and gave 5760 cowries for a new kaldār [کلدارو] or English rupee, while he took 5920 cowries in exchange for a rupee when his customers wanted silver back in the evening to take away with them. The profit on the kaldār [کلدارو] rupee was thus one thirty-sixth on the two transactions, while all old rupees, and every kind of rupee but the kaldār [کلدارو] , paid various rates of exchange or batta [बट्टा], according to the will of the moneychangers, who made a higher profit on all other kinds of money than the kaldār [کلدارو] . They therefore resisted the general introduction of these rupees as long as possible, and when this failed they hit on a device of marking the rupees with a stamp, under pretext of ascertaining whether they were true or false ; after which the rupee was not exchangeable without paying an additional batta [बट्टा], and became as valuable to the money-changers as if it were foreign coin. As justification for their action they pretended to the people that the marks would enable those who had received the rupees to have them changed should any other dealer refuse them, and the necessities of the poor compelled them to agree to any batta [बट्टा] or exchange rather than suffer delay. This was apparently the origin of the ‘Shroff-marked rupees,’ familiar to readers of the Treasury Manual; and the line in a Bhāt [भाट] song, ‘ The English have made current the kaldār [کلدارو] (milled) rupee,’ is thus seen to be no empty praise.
15. Malpractices of lower-class Sunārs [सुनार].
As the bulk of the capital of the poorer classes is hoarded in the shape of gold and silver ornaments, these are regularly pledged when ready money is needed, and the Sunār [सुनार] often acts as a pawnbroker. In this capacity he too often degenerates into a receiver of stolen property, and Mr. Nunn suggested that his proceedings should be supervised by license. Generally, the Sunār [सुनार] is suspected of making an illicit profit by mixing alloy with the metal entrusted to him by his customers, and some bitter sayings are current about him. One of his customs is to filch a little gold from his mother and sister on the last day of Shrāwan [श्रावण] (July) and make it into a luck-penny. This has given rise to the saying, ‘The Sunār [सुनार] will not respect even his mother’s gold ’; but the implication appears to be unjust. Another saying is : ‘ sona Sunār kā, abharan sansār ka’ or, ‘The ornament is the customer’s, but the gold remains with the Sunār [सुनार].’ Gold is usually melted in the employer’s presence, who, to guard against fraud, keeps a small piece of the metal called chāsni or māslo, that is a sample, and when the ornament is ready sends it with the sample to an assayer or Chokski who, by rubbing them on a touchstone, tells whether the gold in the sample and the ornament is of the same quality. Further, the employer either himself sits near the Sunār [सुनार] while the ornament is being made or sends one of his family to watch. In spite of these precautions the Sunār [सुनार] seldom fails to filch some of the gold while the spy’s attention is distracted by the prattling of the parrot, by the coquetting of a handsomely dressed young woman of the family or by some organised mishap in the inner rooms among the women of the house. One of his favourite practices is to substitute copper for gold in the interior, and this he has the best chance of doing with the marriage ornaments, as many people consider it unlucky to weigh or test the quality of these. The account must, however, be taken to apply only to the small artisans, and well-to-do reputable Sunārs [सुनार] would be above such practices.
The goldsmith’s industry has hitherto not been affected to any serious extent by the competition of imported goods, and except during periods of agricultural depression the Sunār [सुनार] continues to prosper.
A Persian couplet said by a lover to his mistress is, ‘Gold has no scent and in the scent of flowers there is no gold ; but thou both art gold and hast scent.’"
[Quelle: Russell, R. V. (Robert Vane) <1873-1915> ; Hīra Lāl <Rai Bahadur> [हीरालाल <राय बहादुर>] <1873 - 1923>: The tribes and castes of the Central Provinces of India. -- London: MacMillan, 1916. -- 4 Bde. : Ill. -- Bd. 4. -- S. 517 - 534]