2. Dvitīyaṃ kāṇḍam

16. śūdravargaḥ

(Über Śūdras)

2. Vers 5 - 15: Handwerker

Übersetzt von Alois Payer 

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.  -- Fassung vom 2017-11-15. --  URL:                                                     

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Dieser Text ist Teil der Abteilung Sanskrit von Tüpfli's Global Village Library

Meinem Lehrer und Freund

Prof. Dr. Heinrich von Stietencron

ist die gesamte Amarakośa-Übersetzung

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2. dvitīyaṃ kāṇḍam - Zweiter Teil

2.16. Śūdravargaḥ - Über Śūdras

WARNUNG: dies ist der Versuch einer Übersetzung und Interpretation eines altindischen Textes. Es ist keine medizinische Anleitung. Vor dem Gebrauch aller hier genannten Heilmittel wird darum ausdrücklich gewarnt. Nur ein erfahrener, gut ausgebildeter ayurvedischer Arzt kann Verschreibungen und Behandlungen machen! Die Bestimmung der Pflanzennamen beruht weitgehend auf Vermutungen kompetenter Āyurvedaspezialisten.



2.16.3. Handwerker

5.a kāruḥ śilpī

कारुः शिल्पी ।५।


  • कारु - kāru m.: Handarbeiter, Handwerker
  • शिल्पिन् - śilpin m.: Kunsthandwerker

Colebrooke (1807): "an artisan"


Indian society presents to us no more fascinating picture than that of the craftsman as an organic element in the national life. Broadly speaking, he is associated with that life in one of three ways : 

  • as a member of a village community ;
  • as a member of a guild of merchant craftsmen in a great city ; 
  • or as the feudal servant of the king, or chieftain of a temple.

First let us enquire into the position of the lesser craftsmen, within the agricultural village community.   

The craftsmen thus working within the village community, are there in virtue of a perpetual contract whereby their services are given to the husbandmen, from whom they receive in return certain privileges and payments in kind. Each has his own duties to perform.

The woodwork of ploughs and other implements is made and repaired by the carpenter, the cultivator merely supplying the wood ; the blacksmith supplies all the iron parts of the implements, and repairs them when necessary, the cultivator supplying the iron and charcoal, and working the bellows ; and the potter supplies each cultivator with the earthenware he needs.

The list of artisans is not always the same, only those most indispensable to the community being found in all cases, such as 

  • the carpenter and
  • blacksmith,
  • potter and
  • washerman.

Others may be the

  • barber-surgeon,
  • messenger and
  • scavenger,
  • astrologer, or
  • dancing girl.

It will be seen that not all of these are technically craftsmen, but all occupy their position in virtue of the professional service which they render to the agricultural community. This is well illustrated by a verse of a fifteenth century Sinhalese poem+ dealing with the origin of caste as a method of division of labour. The verse in question emphasizes the indispensable character of the services of the carpenter, tailor, washerman, barber and leather-worker.

+ Janavamsaya, trans, by H. Nevill, Taprobanian, Vol. I., 1886, pp. 74-93 and 103-114.

“Both for the weddings and funerals of Rājas, Brāhmans, cultivators, merchants, S’ūdras and all men

  • the carpenter giving chairs, bedsteads, pavilions and the like
  • the tailor sewing and giving jackets and hats
  • the washer spreading awnings and bringing clean clothes
  • the barber cutting the hair and beard, trimming the face and adorning it
  • the leather-worker stitching leather for the feet;

thus these five are needed (alike) for the wedding and the funeral.”

They are, indeed, in Ceylon, often spoken of as “the five servants.”    .

It is mentioned in the Mahāvamsa that the heads of the five trades were chosen as messengers to carry a welcome from Kitti Sirimegha to his son Parākrama, afterwards Parākrama Bahu [පරාක්‍රමබාහු, 1123 - 1186] the Great. We thus catch a glimpse of the social status and importance of the “five trades,” but it is not quite clear whether these are the five just referred to, or the five sections of the artificers proper— probably the former.

In Maratha [मराठा] villages, the craftsmen and menial servants formed a guild or institution, regulating the customary duties and remuneration of the craftsmen and servants, and called bara balute in as much as the full number of persons composing this body was reckoned at twelve. They included the craftsmen ; the inferior servants, of low caste, as barbers and scavengers ; and the Bhat, or village priest. They were all headed by the carpenter, who is called the Patel of the artizans, and decided all their disputes.*

*"The system has, indeed, been a good deal broken up in British districts, where work by contract and competition has superseded customary service. But in the native States, where the innovating forces are less strong, the institution still flourishes, to the great satisfaction of all concerned." -- " The Indian Raiyat as a Member of the Village Community" by Sir W. Wedderburn, London, 1883.

The presence of the craftsmen in the midst of a simple agricultural society made possible the self-contained life of the community, so striking a feature of the Indian village.

Living in a society organised on the basis of personal relations and duties,* which descended in each family from generation to generation, instead of belonging to a society founded on contract and competition, their payment was provided for in various ways, of which money payment was the least important and most unusual. The amount of money in circulation in the villages was, indeed, almost negligible, barter and personal service taking the place of money payments. Wealth was hoarded if at all, rather in the form of jewellery than of money. Prosperity consisted in having several years’ provisions of grain in one’s granary. Anything of the nature of a shop or store was unknown.

* Interesting light on village self-government is obtainable from the series of Chola inscriptions (ca. 900-940 A.D.) from the village of Ukkal, near Conjeevaram [காஞ்சிபுரம]. The village was governed by an assembly (sabhā or mahāsabhā), sub-divided into several committees. These were "the great men elected for the year" "the great men in charge of the tank" and "those in charge of gardens" The transactions of the assembly were put in writing by an officer who had the title of arbitrator (madhyastha), and who is also in one case called "accountant" (karanattan). Hultzsch, South Indian Inscriptions, Vol. XXIX, pp. 3, 28, etc.

The payment of craftsmen was either a payment in kind, or a grant of land, besides perquisites on special occasions. For their customary services, the craftsmen were repaid at harvest-time, receiving a fixed proportion of sheaves of grain from the crop collected on the threshing floor, or they might be given a share of the communal land. In the last case, it followed that every man was a cultivator and directly dependent on the land for his subsistence whether he were a husbandman, a goldsmith, or a washerman by caste. To take,, at random, a few examples of these payments :

In the Gujrah [گُجرات] district of the Punjab [پنجاب], the village servants are paid by grain fees, so many bundles of the crop of wheat or barley, each bundle of such a size as may be tied by a string of three straws in length.

In the villages of another province (N. W. P.) the following persons received each a share of grain for each “plough” of cultivated land in the village: the barber, washerman, carpenter, blacksmith and cowherd» besides a further allowance as an extra “when the business of the threshing-floor was over.”

* Baden-Powell, "Indian Village Community," p. 17.

Thus, in Munda villages,

“the lohar, or blacksmith, gets one kat of paddy and three karais for every plough in the village, and is also paid two or three annas for every new phar or plough-share ; in a very few villages he holds half a paw a of land rent free.”*

* H. H. Risley, Census of India, Ethn. App., p. 158.

Almost always, too, there are set apart shares for religious and charitable purposes, before the remainder of the crop is divided between tenant and landlord, or removed by the tenant proprietor himself.*

* Baden-Powell, "Indian Village Community," p. 17.

In Ceylon if a man wanted a new cloth he gave cotton from his clearing, and a present of grain to the weaver. Sometimes the craftsman was paid in this kind of way whenever his services were required, sometimes he received a perquisite only on special occasions ; very much as in England the postman, employed by the community, receives an annual “Christmas box” from each individual at whose house he delivers letters. At New Year, for example, it was customary, in some parts of Ceylon, to tie up a coin in each garment sent to the wash ; and the washerman had other perquisites beside ; and so with the other servants and craftsmen of the village."

[Quelle: Coomaraswamy, Ananda K. (Ananda Kentish) [ආනන්ද කෙන්ටිෂ් කුමාරස්වාමි] <1877 - 1947>: The Indian Craftsman. -- London : Probsthain, 1909. -- 130 S. -- (Probsthain's Oriental Series ; 1). -- S. 1 - 6]


Let us turn to look at the Indian craftsman as the feudal servant of the king, a baron, or of a religious foundation. In the so-called dark ages of the East and of the West, the patronage of art and craft by kings was a matter of course, and no court was complete, lacking the state craftsmen.

He would have seemed a strange king who knew nought of art and craft, and cared less. Even Alfred the Great [Ælfrēd, 848 - 899], amidst all the cares of protecting his troubled land, found time to care for craftsmanship and craftsmen, especially goldsmiths, and we are all familiar with the Alfred jewel that bears the legend, “ Alfred had me made ” ; and this interest in jewellery reminds us of the Eastern proverb, that asks “ who but the Rāja and the goldsmith should know the value of the jewel ?” Still earlier evidence of the traditional royal interest in craft in the West may be gathered from such books as the “ Mabinogion.” When Kilhwch [Culhwch] rode to Arthur’s hall and sought admittance,

“I will not open,” said the porter.
“Wherefore not ?” asked Kilhwch.
“The knife is in the meat, and the drink is in the horn,” said the porter, “and there is revelry in Arthur’s hall, and none may enter therein but the son of a king of a privileged country, or a craftsman bringing his craft.”

So, too, in ancient Ireland we find it said to a similar applicant at the king’s door, “no one without an art comes into Tara.”*

* In "Lugh of the Long Hand" version in Lady Gregory’s "Gods and Fighting Men," 1904, p. 17.

Still later on, in the dark ages, we find, as one may learn from Professor Lethaby’s “ Westminster Abbey and the King’s Craftsmen,” that the royal masons, carpenters, smiths and painters were attached to the palace as much as a matter of course as the chief butler and cook, and that under the chief master-mason or carpenter a body of skilled journeymen was permanently engaged. We are wiser now, of course, and know that only the chief butler and cook are essential to the royal dignity ; the craftsmen have gone, and only the butler, the cook and the clerk remain. Perhaps it is only worldly wisdom after all.

The royal craftsman in the East, however, is our immediate interest, and to him we must return.

We find him well established at a very early date. In the reign of Asoka (275-231 B.C.),

“Artisans were regarded as being in a special manner devoted to the royal service, and capital punishment was inflicted on any person who impaired the efficiency of a craftsman by causing the loss of a hand or an eye. . . . Ship-builders and armour-makers were salaried public servants, and were not permitted, it is said, to work for any private person. The woodcutters, carpenters, blacksmiths and miners were subject to special supervision.”*

* Vincent Smith, "Early History of India" p. 120.

Upon this subject of the regulation of the crafts I shall have more to say later.

Passing over a millenium and a half without endeavouring to trace the royal craftsman’s footsteps one by one, we come to the time of the great Moghal Emperors in the North. From the Āīn-i-Akbari [آئینِ اکبری] or Institutes of the Emperor Akbar [1542 - 1605] [جلال الدین محمد اکبر], one of the three great rulers in whose mind the conception of a united India had taken shape, and one of the greatest rulers that the world has seen, we are told of the skilled Indian and foreign craftsmen maintained in the palaces of the Moghals.

Akbar had in his service many artists, to the end that they

“might vie with each other in fame, and become eminent by their productions.” 

Weekly he inspected the work of every artist, and gave due reward for special excellence. He also personally superintended the making of the weapons forged and decorated in the armoury. He was very fond of shawls, of which many kinds were made in the palace, and classified according to date, value, colour and weight. He had also jewellers and damasceners, inlayers and enamellers, engravers and lapidaries, and craftsmen of all kinds. It is to be observed that all this did not represent in Akbar, any more than it did in Alfred, the mere luxury of an idle or weak monarch, but belonged to a definite conception of the kingly state and duty recognized by one of the greatest rulers the world has seen.

“His majesty taking great delight in, and having patronised this art from the commencement of his reign, has caused it to arrive at high perfection. With that view, this department was established, in order that a number of artists being collected together, might vie with each other for fame, and become eminent by their productions. Every week the daroghas [دروغا] and tepookchies bring to his majesty the performance of every artist, when, in proportion to their merits, they are honoured with premiums, and their salaries are increased.”

“Through the attention of his majesty, a variety of new manufactures are established in this country ; and the cloths fabricated in Persia, Europe and China have become cheap and plenty. The skill of the manufacturers has increased with their number, for his majesty has made himself acquainted with the theory and practice in every stage of the business, so as to be able to discover the merits of the workmen ; thus by bringing the arts into credit, the natives are encouraged to give application, and they speedily gain a complete knowledge of their profession.”

The Emperor Akbar took a personal delight in painting ; he is reported to have said that—

“ There are many that hate painting, but such men I dislike. It appears to me as if a painter had quite peculiar means of recognizing God, for in sketching anything that has life, and devising its limbs one after the other, he must feel that he cannot bestow a soul upon his work, and is forced to think of God, the only giver of life, and will thus increase his knowledge.”

No wonder that the crafts flourished under such conditions ; and it is very certain that Musalman puritanism did not, as a matter of fact, injure Indian art in the way that the contact with Western civilization has injured it. Just as in England the churches have suffered more from churchwardens than from puritans, so Indian art has suffered more from philistines—of the Macaulay [Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1. Baron Macaulay of Rothley, 1800 - 1859] type—than from iconoclasts.

The thing which perhaps most interests us from the craftsman’s point of view is the security and hereditary character of his position. Sir John Chardin [1643 - 1713] tells us of the Persian kings in the seventeenth century that they

“ entertain a large number of excellent master-workmen, who have a salary and daily rations for all their lives, and are provided with all the materials for their work. They receive a present and an increase of salary for every fine work they produce.”

Sir George Birdwood [1832 – 1917] says :

“In the East the princes and great nobles and wealthy gentry, who are the chief patrons of these grand fabrics, collect together in their own houses and palaces all who gain reputation for special skill in their manufacture. These men receive a fixed salary and daily rations, and are so little hurried in their work that they have plenty of time to execute private orders also. Their salaries are. continued even when through age or accident they are past work ; and on their death they pass to their sons, should they have become skilled in their father’s art. Upon the completion of any extraordinary work it is submitted to the patron, and some honour is at once conferred on the artist, and his salary increased. It is under such conditions that the best art work of the East has always been produced.”

There is, for example, in the India Museum an engraved jade bowl, on which a family in the employ of the Emperors of Delhi [دلی] was engaged for three generations. In these days when churches are built by contract and finished to the day or week, it is difficult to realise the leisurely methods of the older craftsmen. Do not mistake leisure for laziness ; they are totally and entirely different things. The quality of leisure in old work is one of its greatest charms, and is almost essential in a work of art. Haste and haggling have now almost destroyed the possibility of art, and until they are again eliminated from the craftsman’s work it will not be possible to have again such work as he once gave to his fellows. In other words, society must either decide to do without art, as it mostly does decide at the present day, or else it must make up its mind to pay for art and endow its craftsmen. You cannot both have art and exploit it.

The royal appreciation of art and craft in the East at various times is further illustrated by the existence of kings who themselves practised a craft. I have collected two or three of these instances, but have no doubt that many more could be found by searching the pages of Indian history.

In the Kusa Jātaka, it is recorded that Prince Kusa, not wishing to marry, conceived the idea of having a beautiful golden image made, and of promising to marry when a woman of equal beauty should be found. He summoned the chief smith, and giving him a quantity of gold, told him to go and make the image of a woman. In the meanwhile he himself took more gold, and fashioned it into the image of a beautiful woman, and this image he had robed in linen and set in the royal chamber. When the goldsmith brought his image, the prince found fault with it, and sent him to fetch the image placed in the royal chamber. At first mistaking this image for a daughter of the gods, he feared to touch it; but being sent to fetch it a second time, he brought it; it was placed in a car and sent to the Queen Mother with the message, “ When I find a woman like this, I will take her to wife.”

This story is no doubt legendary, but shows at least that at the time of its composition the practise of a craft was not considered derogatory to the honour of a prince. A more historical mention of a royal craftsman is the reference to King Jetthatissa of Ceylon, in the Mahāvamsa.

 “He was,” says this chronicle, “a skilful carver. This monarch, having carried out several arduous undertakings in painting and carving, himself taught the art to many of his subjects. He sculptured a beautiful image of the Bodhisatta so perfect that it seemed as if it had been wrought by supernatural power; and also a throne, a parasol and a state room with beautiful work in ivory made for it.”


One extract from the Sinhalese chronicles will show how real could be the royal appreciation of the arts and crafts ; it is a message from Vijaya Bāhu [විජයබාහු] to his father, Parākrama Bāhu II. [දෙවන පරාක්‍රමබාහු රජ, regn. 1234 - 1269], who reigned in the thirteenth century. It relates to the rebuilding of a city that had been laid waste by foreign enemies, and subsequently abandoned altogether.

“There are now,” runs the message, “in the city of Pulatthi, palaces, image-houses, viharas, parivenas, cetiyas, relic-houses, ramparts, towers, bird-shaped houses, mansions, open halls, preaching halls, temples of the gods, and the like buildings, whereof some are yet standing, although the trees of the forest have grown over and covered them. Others thereof are fast falling, because that the pillars thereof are rotten and cannot support them. Others, alas! are bent down with the weight of huge walls split from top to bottom, and are tumbling down because that there is nothing to bear them up. Sad, indeed, is it also to see others, unable to stand by reason of decay and weakness, bending down to their fall day by day, like unto old men. Some there are with broken ridge poles and damaged beam ends, and some with roofs fallen down and the tiles thereof broken. In some the tiles have slipped through the breaches of the decayed roof, and in others only the walls and pillars remain. Some there are with fallen doors, and doorposts that have been displaced, and others with loose staircases and ruined galleries. Of some buildings there only remain the signs of their foundations, and in others even the sites cannot be distinguished. What need is there of further description ? This city, which is now so ugly and displeasing to the eye, we purpose to make beautiful and pleasant. Let the king grant us leave thereto, and let the feast of coronation be held in the great city afterwards.”

And so, as the chronicle tells us, he did indeed ; for

 “he gathered together smelters, turners, basket makers, blacksmiths, potters, goldsmiths, painters, porters, labourers, slaves, out-castes, skilful bricklayers, masons, carpenters, and divers workers in stone. And, further he assembled all sorts of blacksmiths’ tools, such as bellows, sledge-hammers, pincers, and anvils; and also numerous sharp saws, adzes, axes, wood-cleavers, stone-cutters’ chisels, knives, hammers, spades, mats, baskets, and the like; all these . . . did he send unto his royal son.”*

* Mahavamsa, Ch. LXXXVIII

Let us examine in slightly greater detail the organisation of the king’s craftsmen, that is the State craftsmen, in Ceylon, as it existed up to the day on which the British Governor replaced the Kandyan king. It must be first understood that the organisation of society was altogether feudal. The possession of land was the foundation of the king’s right to the services and contributions of the people, and vice versa. For all land held, service was due from the tenant to the king, that is to the State. The lands and services were inseparably associated, and as a rule descended from father to son in the same family, and this remained the same even when the services were bestowed by the king on individuals or given to religious foundations. There was thus no free trade in land ; and every man had his place in the society, and his work. Landholders were classed in accordance with the services due from them. The vast majority were cultivators, whose duty it was to keep the State granaries well supplied ; others were the soldiers, the musicians, the washermen, the servants, the potters, and weavers, and the craftsmen proper, viz. : the carpenters, goldsmiths, masons, ivory carvers, armourers, founders and painters, altogether perhaps a tenth of the population. All of these owned service to the king in respect of the lands they held. The lands descended in the family from generation to generation, and were cultivated by the owners. Everyone was thus directly dependent on the land for his living. The craftsmen, however, were not serfs, nor adscriptus glebae [an die Scholle gebunden = leibeigen], as a tenant had always the right to refuse service and surrender his land. This, however, only happened in rare instances, as during the last king’s reign, when too arduous services were sometimes required. Of temple tenants, Knox [Robert Knox, 1641 - 1720] remarked that their duties in this life were so easy, that they might expect to suffer for it in the next! But hereditary social status and landholding went very much together, and to surrender the family service land would have been the last thing desired by a Kandyan craftsman. If, by chance, the succession failed, this would be remedied by adoption of a pupil and heir of the same caste.

The State Craftsmen fell into two groups, those of the “Four Workshops” (Pattal Hatara), who worked always at the palace, and those of the separate districts, who had to do certain shares of work at the palace, but were more often at home, where they had to work for the local officials ; and those of the artificers’ department (Kottal-badde).

The best of the higher craftsmen, those of the “Four Workshops,” formed a close, largely hereditary corporation, and the position was highly valued. From their number were chosen the foremen of the District Craftsmen (Kottal-badde). The four shops were known as the “Regalia,” the “ Crown,” the “ Golden Sword,” and the “ Lion Throne ” workshops respectively ; but the craftsmen seem to have passed from one to another according to the work required of them. These families were of considerable standing, often possessing very valuable landed property settled upon them by the king on the occasion of their first arrival from India, if, as was often the case, they were of Indian origin, or granted as a reward for subsequent services. The very name galladda (gam-ladda), by which the superior craftsmen are often designated, means one who possesses or holds a village. There are some families of craftsmen whose history can be traced from at least the fourteenth century by means of the original and subsequent grants which they received from the Sinhalese kings. I give an example of one of these grants, dated 1665 A.D. :

“During the reign of His Majesty the mighty Emperor Rāja Simha, ... as Marukona Ratna Ābharana Vedakārayā reported himself at the palace, orders were given to make certain pieces of jewellery required for the royal dress ; and when he had made and submitted these pieces of jewellery to the great king, he stated that he needed the Mottuvela Nila-panguve Badavedilla in Pallesiya Pattuva of Asgiri Kōrale, in the Disāvanaya of Mātale [මාතලේ] for his maintenance . . . and His Majesty . . . did ... in the year of Saka, 1587, absolutely grant the high and low lands in Mottuvela Badavedilla ... to Marukona Ratna Ābharana Vedakārayā, to be possessed without any disturbance or hindrance during the existence of the Sun, the Moon, Kandy [මහ නුවර] and the Mahāveli river [මහවැලි ගඟ].”

As another instance of a special grant may be cited the following charter held by a Kandyan craftsman :

“When the king of kings, Srī Sanghabō Senasammata Vikrama Bāhu, was reigning in Senkadagala (Kandy), he ordered on a full moon day of the twentieth year of his reign, two sheets of cloth, twenty cubits by nine cubits, to be woven, and caused Ācharilla Dityaya and his son Sivanta Dityaya to paint thereon the likeness of Buddha seated on a Vajrāsana and surrounded by Sakra, Brahma, and other Devas. On the completion of painting the two sheets, he ordered the ceremony of placing pots full of water, and of other rites ; and on the completion of the Nētra Pinkama, his hands having been washed [ceremonial purification after painting the eyes of the image, performed by the king himself, as here, or by a craftsman in royal costume], he was graciously pleased to bestow on the two artists, with the object of satisfying them and to enable them to make offerings to Buddha, fields to the extent of four amunu, together with the high land and trees thereon, as well as the houses and all other things pertaining thereto . . . to be held absolutely from generation to generation.

“Now know all ye that are concerned, that the said properties having been bestowed under royal assent to be enjoyed by these artists, their sons, grandsons, and their subsequent generations : if any king, sub-king, courtier, minister, or whatsoever person were to dispute the right to this badavedilla [land given to a craftsman for his subsidence], such person or persons shall be born in the eight hells successively. . . .But, on the other hand, if any person shall confirm and uphold the said gift, he shall after death be born successively in the six heavens . . . and after the termination of the enjoyments of the bliss of these heavens, shall be born in the kingdom of Ketumati, where he shall see Maitri Buddha, by whom the law shall be preached to him, whose holy priesthood he shall enter into, arahatship, and subsequently Nirvāna.

“In this tenor the royal decree was issued, and by command this copperplate Sannas was inscribed by me, Sanhassivanta Nainarumbha. By the merit acquired inscribing this, may I be born in the age of Maitri Buddha.”

Besides such grants of land, the king used to reward individual craftsmen with gifts of cloth, money, etc., and by the bestowal of honours and titles.

@The District Craftsmen (Kottal-badde—lit. Artificers’ Department—one of the Fourteen Departments of Public Works under the Kandyan kings) differed from those of the Four Workshops in not being liable to permanent service at the court. Some of them served in relays for periods of two months at a time, others worked only for the governors of districts, and not directly for the court. In certain of the districts the Governor (Disava) himself held the office of Kottal-badde Nilame, or Overseer of Craftsmen, and in this case he usually appointed from their number a Kottal-badde Vidāne, or officer acting as his lieutenant. In other districts, two Overseers of Craftsmen were appointed by the king. It is interesting that on one occasion, in the seventeenth century, a Dutchman was appointed Overseer of Craftsmen. He entered the king’s service for the love of a Sinhalese woman, and was made “ Courtalbad,” “ which is chief over all the smiths and carpenters in Cande Uda.”

* Robert Knox, "An Historical Relation of the Island Ceilon," 1682, p. 181.

The Kottal-badde craftsmen in one district consisted of the following :

  • Seven vaduvo who did carpenters’ work for the king or governor; they were usually employed at the royal timber yard.
  • Five liyana vaduvo, or turners.
  • Five sittaru, or painters.
  • Fourteen i-vaduvo, or arrow-makers, who made bows, arrows, spears, staves, etc., and gauded them with lac ; of these men, two worked in the royal armoury.
  • Fourteen atapattu karayo, who furnished or executed fine work, and were principally employed in ornamenting and inlaying locks, guns, knives, etc., with gold, silver, or brass ; two of them worked in the royal armoury.
  • Four badallu, or silversmiths, workers in gold, silver, brass, or copper ; two of them worked in the royal armoury.
  • One gal-vaduva, or mason.
  • Twenty mul-acari, or blacksmiths, a certain number of whom, varying according to the exigency of the service, attended constantly in Kandy, and erecting workshops near the Disava’s house, executed all kinds of common ironwork, for which the metal was furnished them.
  • Eight blacksmiths without regular service lands such as the foregoing held. These blacksmiths had to appear before the Disava at New Year with a knife and scissors each, and were liable to be called on for work in any time of emergency.
  • Ten Disava acari, who worked for the Disava only.
  • Twenty-two potters, in two divisions, under the orders of officers of the same caste appointed by the Disava. The two divisions undertook turns of duty of one month each in rotation with the potters of other districts, the turns recurring once in ten months. When at home in their own district, they had only to furnish earthenware for the Disava, for the rest-houses, and for the king or ambassadors if they came to the district.

The following may serve as actual examples of individual craftsmen’s tenure :

A goldsmith holding half an acre and owing service to the Gadalādeniya [ගඩලාදෙණිය] Dēvāle (temple) in Ceylon, had

  • to supply a silver ring for the “ festival tree,”
  • and repair the golden insignia for use at the perahera [පෙරහැර] (annual festival and procession);
  • put up and decorate booths on the same occasion ;
  • supply a measure of oil for the Kārti festival;
  • and give annually to the two lay officers of the temple, two silver rings each.

These services were commutable for Rs. 7.35 (nearly 10s.).

A blacksmith held land of the same extent, his services (commutable for Rs. 5.85) were

  • to give iron utensils for the temple kitchen;
  • work as a blacksmith ;
  • clean the palanquin and cressets for the perahera [පෙරහැර];
  • nail laths ;
  • annually present a pair of scissors and an arecanut-slicer ;
  • clean the temple yard, and put up and decorate a booth ;
  • give a measure of oil for the Karti festival;
  • and at each of the four annual festivals to present the lay officers with an arecanut-slicer each.

It must be understood that materials (such as iron, charcoal, etc., for the smith, gold for the goldsmith, pigments for the painter), and food (and lodging) were in all such cases provided by the proprietor for the tenant when working away from home, whether at court, at the manor house, or at the temple.

The following is an example of a potter’s tenure :

A tenant of the Talgahagoda Vihāra [විහාරය] (Buddhist temple) held 4¼ acres of land. His services (commutable for Rs. 10.35) were

  • to give at New Year one piece of pottery ;
  • for the ceremony of sprinkling milk, two pots ;
  • one yoke load of pottery on the 15th of the month of Bat [බක්];
  • 63 Kārti lamps on the 15th of the month of Il [ඉල්];
  • four pots and four dishes on the 15th of Durutta [දුරුතු] for the New Rice (Harvest Home) festival;
  • 50 dishes once a year for the monastery;
  • two vases and two jugs to each of the two vihāras [විහාරය];
  • and to tile the two vihāras [විහාරය] (when necessary).

For the most part, of course, there was no wage payment of the state craftsmen, for they were otherwise provided for under the admirable land system I have referred to ; but in the case of the many religious buildings undertaken by the Sinhalese kings, it was otherwise, as the king in these cases always desired to remunerate the craftsmen himself directly, in order that the meritorious work might be his very own, and not anybody else’s. Thus also we read of the builder King Duttha Gāmanī [දුටුගැමුණු], in the second century B. C., that when setting about the building of a great monastery called the Brazen Palace, that

“ The generous Rāja, at the very beginning of the undertaking, laid down eight hundred thousand pieces of money at each of the four gates, and announced that on this occasion it was unfitting to exact unpaid labour ; setting, therefore, a value on the work performed, he paid in money.”

Nearly all the later kings were builders, too, and it was in the building of Buddhist temples that the State craftsmen were chiefly occupied when the requirements of the court and the armoury had been met. And on all these occasions the craftsmen were liberally and specially rewarded. I wish I could give some adequate idea of the passion for religious building which possessed the Sinhalese kings, and of the way in which this stimulated the production of works of art and craft. Perhaps I shall best do this by quoting from a typical temple charter.

At Degaldoruva, in the eighteenth century, the king’s younger brother had a cave temple enlarged, and he 

“caused stone walls to be put up and doors and windows to be set with keys and bars, and an image of Buddha of twelve cubits in length to be made in a reclining posture, and six other images in a sitting posture to be placed at the head and feet of the image, and also caused twenty-four Buddha’s images to be depicted on the ceiling and on the walls within and without, and other workmanship and paintings to be made thereon and upon the stone pillars, the roof of the front court to be put up with beams and rafters, and covered with tiles, and on the cross walls thereof a representation of hell and heaven. . . . and having furnished the temple with curtains, ceiling cloths, umbrellas, flags, drums, oboes, etc. . . . His Majesty . . . ordered the ceremony of painting the eyes to be performed, and His Majesty also furnished all the necessaries thereto, and having granted much riches in clothes, money and other things to the artificers, the painters and the stone-cutters, His Majesty received merit and was filled with ecstacy.”

One other extract is quoted from a sannasa or charter [Gangārāma Vihāra [ගංගාරාම විහාරය], Kandy [මහනුවර]]:

“ Kīrti Srī Rāja Simha . . . caused a vihāra [විහාරය] to be made containing stone walls of thirteen cubits in length, seven in breadth, and eleven in height, surrounded by stone pillars, and, above a roof with rafters covered with tiles. Within the walls a stone image of nine cubits in height was made, its robes beautified with painting of vermilion, its different members covered with leaves of gold, painted about with the five colours, and completed after the enshrinement of bodily relics. . . . In the year of Saka, 1674 (A.D. 1752), of the month Poson [පොසොන්], and on Monday, the eighth day of the increase of the moon, under the constellation Hata, eyes were affixed to the image, accompanied with great solemnity, rejoicings and excessive offerings, and the craftsmen were satisfied by appropriate gifts.”

* A. C. Lawrie, "Gazetteer of the Central-Province^ p. 817 (with verbal alterations).

The king, the nobles and the people, especially the craftsmen, were brought into intimate and even affectionate association on these occasions.

But not all of the craftsmen in Ceylon were servants of the king or the state directly. Every religious foundation of importance had its own lands, occupied by husbandmen and craftsmen, who owed service to the temple, just as the tenants of a royal manor owed service to the king. Let us examine a few instances of such tenancies.

One of the goldsmith-tenants of the Daladā Māligāva [දළදා මාළිගාව], the great Buddhist temple in Kandy [මහනුවර], for example, held three acres of land. For this his services, light enough, were to go to the temple and polish the gold and silver vessels and implements of the temple during six days in the year, and to give a nut-slicer and two silver rings to the lay-chief of the temple every New Year. When on duty at the temple, the tenant received his meal three times a day.

The blacksmith tenant of another temple held half an acre, and owed somewhat harder service ;

  • he was to give iron utensils for the kitchen,
  • work as a blacksmith,
  • clean the palanquins and lamps,
  • nail laths,
  • give a pair of scissors and a nut-slicer,
  • clean the court-yard and 
  • put up booths for the annual festival, and
  • give a measure of lamp oil for another annual celebration, and
  • at each festival to present to the lay officials of the temple a nut-slicer each.

So much, indeed, were the crafts bound up with the temples, so much occupied were the craftsmen, whether royal craftsmen or temple tenants, in either building, restoring or supplying the requirements of temples, that the art was really as distinctively religious as the Gothic art of the middle ages, and in the same way too, it was an art for, and understood by, the whole people.

Similar conditions probably prevailed from the earliest times. An interesting record of temple craftsmen is given in the tenth century inscription of Mahinda IV. [මහින්ද, regn. 975 - 991], at Mihintale [මිහින්තලය], in Ceylon. The inscription describes the administration and organisation of a well-endowed Buddhist monastery. The section treating of craftsmen runs as follows: 

“(There shall be granted) to the chief master-artisan all that belongs to the guild of artisans at Bond-vehera; to two master-artisans, to eight carvers, and to two bricklayers—to (all of) these, the village Vadu-devagama. To each of the two workers in wood (shall be assigned) one kiriya (of land); to each of the two master-lapidaries [or goldsmiths ?], three kiriya (of land); to each of the two blacksmiths, one kiriya (of land) ; to the lime-burners, the village Sunubol-devagama ; to the six cartmen, the village Dunumugama.” Also, “ to a painter, two kiriya (of land) ” ; “to each of the five potters who supply daily five earthen pots, one kiriya (of land).”*

*Wickremasinghe, "Epigraphia Zeylanica" Vol. I., p.p III, 112.

Again, in the Jētavanārāma [ජේතවනාරාමය] Sanskrit inscription (first half of ninth century), relative to the administration of another Buddhist monastery, we read :

“[There shall be] clever stone-cutters and skilful carpenters in the village devoted to the work of [temple] renewal. They all . . . shall be experts in their [respective] work. To each of them shall be given of one and a half kiri [in sowing extent] for their maintenance ... an enclosed piece of ground. And one hena [or a plot of dry land] shall be granted to each of them for the purpose of sowing fine grain. Means of subsistence of the [same] extent [as is] given to one of these shall be granted to the officer who superintends work. Moreover, when thus conferring maintenance on the latter person, his work and so forth shall [just] be ascertained, and the name of him [thus] settled [with a livelihood], as well as his respective duties, shall be recorded in the register. Those of the five castes who work within the precincts of the monastery shall receive [their] work after it has been apportioned, and they alone shall be answerable for its excellence [lit. purity]. The limit [of time] for the completion of [a piece of] work [thus apportioned] is two months and five days. Blame [shall be attributed] to the superintendents, the vārikas, and the labourers who do not perform it according to arrangement. Those who do not avoid blame . . . shall be deprived of their share [of land].”

The craftsmen were provided with all materials, and probably fed while at work at the monastery, but received no wages in money ; their means of subsistence being the portion of land allotted to each, and cultivated by other members of the family, and, probably, as at the present day, by themselves also in times of ploughing, sowing and harvest. The same conditions prevailed in mediaeval England in this respect. This relation between craft and agriculture is very important in view of the character of the modem social problems of the Western craftsman, alluded to in Mr. Ashbee’s foreword.

Some inscriptions of Rāja Rāja [இராசராச சோழன்] (A.D. 985-1018) at the great Tanjore (Tañjavūr [தஞ்சாவூர்]) temple in Southern India, give interesting details of craftsmen attached to the temple, recalling the records of the establishment at Mihintale [මිහින්තලය] above referred to. One inscription refers to the produce of land assigned to temple servants before the 29th year of the king’s reign. Besides the lands assigned to a large number of devadasis  [தேவதாசி] (400), there were :

  • “For one man belonging to the potters (kusavar [குசவன்]) of the sacred kitchen, one share (of land), and for ten (other) men half a share each ; altogether, to the potters of the high street of Sūrasikhāmani, six shares.”
  • “To the jewel-stitcher . . . one and a half share.”
  • “For one brazier (kannan [கன்னான்]), one share.”
  • “ For one master carpenter (taccacarya [தச்சர்]), one and a half share, and for two (other) men, one and a half share; altogether . . . three shares.”
  • “ For a person who performs the duty of superintending goldsmiths (kankani tattan [கண்காணி தட்டான்]), by selecting one man and letting him do the work, to . . . the superintending goldsmith of the minor treasures of the Lord Srī-Rāja(rājad)eva [இராசராச சோழன்], one share.”*

*Hultzsch, "South Indian Inscriptions" Vol. II., part II., p. 259.

(Also for two other carpenters, three-quarters of a share each ; and for four tailors, one and a half share each, and for two other tailors, one share each).

But besides the royal and religious manors, and their tenants, craftsmen included, there were also manors in the possession of chieftains and officials, held by them either for life or office, or for ever ; granted in the first instance for public service in peace or war. So it came about that just as there were craftsmen working arrays for the king at court, or bringing in to court the work done for the king at home, so at the local chieftain’s manor-house were to be seen craftsmen working for him patiently and contentedly, receiving only their meals, while their families cultivated the lands for which service was due to the chief; and amongst the tenants of the chief’s demesne, these craftsmen were by no means the least important or the least honoured.

I give one instance of such a tenant’s holding and services. At Pāldeniya, in Ceylon, a tenant held land of something over an acre in extent; for this he had

  • to pay eightpence annually as a fee ;
  • to appear twice a year and give a piece of silversmith’s work worth 3s. 4d.;
  • to work at the manor-house thirty days a year, being supplied with food and charcoal;
  • to accompany the Lord of the Manor on important occasions twice a year.

The craftsmen in Ceylon were to a great extent associated in villages ; that is to say, a whole village or manor would be sometimes entirely a village of craftsmen. In this we trace a survival of old conditions. In the Sūci Jātaka, for example, we get a picture of just such a village of craftsmen :

“The Bodhisatta was born in the kingdom of Kāsi, in a smith’s family, and when he grew up became skilled in the craft. His parents were poor. Not far from their village was another smith’s village of a thousand houses. The principal smith of the thousand was a favourite of the king, rich, and of great substance. . . . People came from the villages round to have razors, axes, ploughshares and goads made.”*

* " The Jataka," Ed. E. B. Cowell, 1895-1908, No. 387.

In another Jātaka, the Alīnacitta Jātaka, we read that there was

“once upon a time a village of carpenters not far from the city, in which five hundred carpenters lived. They would go up the river in a vessel, and enter the forest, where they would shape beams and planks for house-building, and put together the frame-work of one-storey and two-storey houses, numbering all the pieces from the mainpost onwards ; these then they brought down to the river bank, and put them all aboard ; then rowing down stream again, they would build houses to order as it was required of them ; after which, when they received their wage, they went back again for more materials for the building, and in this way they made their livelihood.”*

* Loc. cit., No. 156. For potters, see the Kumbhakara Jataka.

The Pāli Jātakas supply us with a considerable amount of information regarding the position of craftsmen in early Buddhist times. The most striking features of the social organisation of the craftsmen at this time are : the association of craftsmen in villages, the hereditary character of the craft, and the importance of the Elder, or master-craftsman. These conditions, like so many other early Buddhist social features, have persisted in mediaeval and even until modem times in Ceylon, where we find, for example, smiths’ villages and potters’ villages, where all or nearly all the inhabitants belong to one occupational caste. At the same time, it is important to distinguish the social significance of the craftsmen thus associated in villages, and that of the “village craftsman” proper, who is the sole representative of his calling, and is the endowed servant of an agricultural community. In the one case, the purchaser has to seek the maker of wares in his own home ; in the other, the craftsman is himself permanently established amongst his patrons. In late mediaeval Ceylon the two conditions existed side by side.

Besides the craftsmen thus organised in extra-urban communities of their own, we have, on the one hand, craftsmen and merchants (principally the latter) living in the city, in their own streets and quarters; and, on the other, craftsmen of no particular caste, or considered as belonging to despised castes. Thus, wheelwrights and carriage builders belonged to the inferior or lesser castes with which they are classified in the Suttavibhanga, together with the Candala, Nesada, and Pukkusa castes (lesser castes, hīnajāti), while the basket makers, potters, weavers, leather-workers and barbers are said to be of the lesser trades (hīna sippa). The distinction in thought between caste and trade became much less clear in later times ; in early Buddhist times caste was less defined and crystalised than it afterwards became, and there was no division of Sūdras so-called.

All workers in wood were comparatively low in social rank, the joiner, however, naturally much less so than the workers in cane, as is the case also at the present day in Ceylon. It should be observed that it was not handicraft itself that gave a low social rank to certain groups of craftsmen, but rather the fact that these groups consisted essentially of aboriginal non-Aryan races practising crafts that were known to them before the arrival of the Aryans (weaving, pottery, basket-making).

It would be a very great mistake, however, to suppose that the social status of the artist or craftsman was invariably low. This certainly cannot have been the case in the finest period of Indian art, when the national culture found expression at least as completely in art as in literature or music. As we have seen, the kammalar [கம்மாளர்] in Southern India claim a social status equal or superior to that of Brāhmans; and in Ceylon the position of the superior craftsmen, often the grantees of whole villages, and served by tenants and villeins of their own, was, though technically, and as regards the essential point of intermarriage inferior, in other ways considerably superior to that of the European craftsman at the present day. The skilful and noted craftsman was a person to be approached with gifts, and treated with respect on account of his skill and learning.

Just the same thing is indicated in that interesting episode related in the Katha-kosa, where a prince named Amaradatta is described as falling in love with a beautiful statue, and weeping and complaining to his friend Mitrānanda.

“At this moment a native of the place, a merchant, Ratnasāgara by name, came into that temple. The merchant asked, ‘ Why are you two distracted by grief ? ’ Mitrānanda told the merchant, though with difficulty, the case of Amaradatta. The merchant said to himself : ‘Oh, the might of Cupid triumphs ! There is in his mind a passion even for a stone image.' Then Mitrānanda said to the merchant: ‘ My lord, who had this temple made ? Who was the workman employed on it ? Who had so much artistic skill ? Did he make this statue by his own artistic invention only, or did he carve it to represent some person ?' The merchant said : ‘ I had this temple made. It was made by an architect residing in the city of Sopāra, named Sūradeva.’ Mitrānanda said : ‘ I will go to that city.’ Then Amaradatta said: ‘ Without you I cannot support my life.’ Then Mitrānanda crossed the sea, and went to the city of Sopāra. There he put on a splendid garment, and, taking a present in his hand, went to the architect’s house. The architect showed him great regard, and asked him the cause of his coming. Mitrānanda said : ‘ I wish to have a temple built in honour of a god, therefore I have come to you. So show me a model of a temple.’ The architect said : ‘ I made the temple in the garden outside Pātaliputra ; this is the model of it.’ Mitrānanda said : ‘ Was. the marble statue in that temple devised out of your own head, or is it the likeness of any lady ? ’ The architect said : ‘The statue is copied from Ratnamarijarī, the daughter of King Matrāsena in Ujjayinī, and is not the product of my own artistic invention.’ When Mitrānanda heard this, he said : ‘ I will come to you again in an auspicious moment ’; and thereupon he journeyed to Ujjayinī.”

* Katha-kosa, translated by C. H. Tawney, p. 150.

The rest of the story, relating the manner in which Mitrānanda won the fair lady for his friend, does not concern us here ; suffice it to say, that in the end

“Amaradatta made Mitrānanda head of his cabinet, Ratnamanjarī was the jewel of his harem, and the merchant Ratnasāgara was appointed royal merchant.”

As regards the organisation of craftsmen in villages, conditions were not, of course, identical in mediaeval Ceylon, but they were, and to a large extent still are, similar in many ways. In 1872, out of 117 villages in the district of Nuvara Kalāviya, four were smiths’ villages, and five potters’ villages, occupied by persons of those castes exclusively ; the extent of these amounted to 8o| acres in a total of 790 acres.*

* Service Tenures Commission Report, Colombo, 1872, p. 487.

In the Kandyan provinces, there existed a larger number of such villages, and also villages wholly or partly occupied by goldsmiths and other superior craftsmen. There were also whole villages granted to craftsmen and their descendants for ever, as bada-vedilla, or means of subsistence. The word galladda, a designation of craftsmen of the superior division, actually means “one who possesses a village”—a point of much significance in a study of the economic status of the Indian craftsman.

In Southern India the skilled craftsmen, exclusive, that is, of potters and weavers, are known as the kammalar [கம்மாளர்]. The following account of these craftsmen is partly based on a paper by Dr. Pulney Andy in No. 50, “ Journal of Indian Art and Industry.”

The kammalar  [கம்மாளர்] are descendants of Aryans who entered India across the Panjab [پنجاب] in early times, when they were known as Visva or Deva Brāhmans or Deva Kammalar. They spread gradually towards the south, and thence reached Ceylon, Burma, Siam and Java. The kammalar claim to have been at one time spiritual guides and priests to the whole people, of which position a trace survives in the saying, “The kammālan is guru to the world.’’ They still have their own priests, and do not rely on Brāhmans ; they also perform priestly rites in connection with the consecration of images. They both claim and possess various special privileges, which they have always upheld with much vigour ; in some cases they claim a rank equal to that of Brahmans. They are, or were, learned in the silpa sastra, or technical works on art in Sanskrit; the priests especially studied these books. But most they were only, in later times at least, known in word for word glosses in the vernacular. The kammalar trace their ancestry to the five sons of Visvakarma, of whom the first-born, Manu, worked in iron ; the second, Maya, in wood ; the third, Tvastram, in brass, copper, and alloys ; the fourth, Silpi, in stone ; and the fifth, Visvajna, was a gold and silver smith and jeweller. In former times the kammalar had their own guilds which protected their interests ; but as these institutions gradually declined, they have been driven to seek the aid of capitalists of other castes, and now they are in a majority of instances reduced to mere paid workmen, earning daily wages. The five occupational sects form one compact community, and are not mutually exclusive ; the son of any one may follow any of the five crafts at will. Probably many individuals practised more than one craft, as is still the case in Ceylon, amongst the navandanno, who correspond in position to the kammalar, and in many instances are the descendants of kammalar immigrants. The group of castes corresponding to the kammalar in Mysore is called Panchvala."

[Quelle: Coomaraswamy, Ananda K. (Ananda Kentish) [ආනන්ද කෙන්ටිෂ් කුමාරස්වාමි] <1877 - 1947>: The Indian Craftsman. -- London : Probsthain, 1909. -- 130 S. -- (Probsthain's Oriental Series ; 1). -- S. 20 - 56]


There is another kind of provision in Eastern society tending to secure the maintenance of standard in the crafts. I allude to the caste system, some aspects of which we must consider. Without here speaking of the origin and general significance of caste, it will suffice to say from our point of view that it represents a legal recognition of the natural division of society into functional groups. Theoretically, there are four castes only, the Brahman or learned caste ; the Kshattriya, or warriors and statesmen ; the Vaisya, or traders, cultivators and craftsmen ; and the Sudra, craftsmen and servant

Much subdivision and multiplication of caste has taken place, so that there are large numbers of widely distributed, but self-contained communities in India, whose members do not inter-marry or eat together. Caste is hereditary, that is to say, every man is, and must remain, of the caste into which he is born, and this is true even if he should leave the special occupation which is the traditional work of his caste.

There is a certain connection between the caste and the guild, that is to say, the trade guild consists usually of persons of the same ethnic and sectarian caste ; but when the same trade is pursued by men of different castes, as sometimes, but not often, happens, the guild may include all without reference to caste.

The craftsman has always his caste, but is not always associated with others into a guild; the guilds are mainly confined to the great polytechnic cities, while the village craftsman stands alone. Yet even he is not alone, for he is a member of a great fraternity, the caste ; and how much this means to him, it would be difficult to exaggerate. It means at once his pride and his duty (dharma). Caste is a system of noblesse oblige ; each man is born to his ordained work, through which alone he can spiritually progress. This religious conception of a man’s trade or profession as the heaven-ordained work of his caste, may best, perhaps, be likened to the honour of mediaeval knighthood. For the priest, learning ; for the king, excellence in kingcraft; for the craftsman, skill and faithfulness ; for the servant, service. The way and the life are various, but progress is possible alone each in his own way :

“Better is one’s own duty even without distinction, than the duty of another, even with excellence ; in another’s duty danger lies.”

And so it is that for each, culture comes in life itself, not as a thing separate from life. 67

Take the Vaisya for example ; he is to be a grazier or a trader : he must, says Manu :

“ Know the respective value of gems, of pearls, of coral, of metals, of woven stuffs, of perfume, and of condiments. He must be acquainted with the manner of sowing seeds, and of the good and bad qualities of fields, and he must perfectly know all measures and weights. Moreover, the excellence and defects of commodities, the advantages and disadvantages of different countries, the probable profit and loss on merchandise, and the means of properly rearing cattle. He must be acquainted with the proper wages of servants, with the various languages of men, with the manner of keeping goods, and the rules of purchase and sale. Let him exert himself to the utmost in order to increase his property in a righteous manner, and let him zealously give food to all created beings.”

Thus each man had not only an economic, but a spiritual status in society ; national righteousness is often described by saying that

“each man lived according to the dharma of his caste, down even to the dancing girl who excelled in the duties of her calling also.”

The doctrine of Karma, the strongest, perhaps, of all sanctions for morality, has something to do also with craftsmanship. A man’s deeds follow him as a cart follows the ox; whatsoever a man does will react upon himself, sooner or later, in this life or another ; as a man sows, so also shall he reap. These ideas are rather quaintly expressed in some of the technical books of the craftsmen. Here, for instance, are some verses from the Mayamataya [மயமதம்]speaking of good and evil craftsmen, and their fate in this life and in lives to come :

“ Builders that build houses thus, after their death, will be re-born in a royal family ; painters, if they make images accordingly, in noble families ; cunning and skilful builders, though they should die, are friends of mine, for as they do, they become rulers and nobles, such is the old saying of the sages. One who knows amiss his craft, taking hire wrongfully, the which wife and children eat and enjoy, bringing misfortune on the owner of the house, that builder will fall into hell and suffer— these sayings are in Mayamataya, what remedy can there be then, O builders ? There are men who make images of Buddha, though knowing naught of their craft; put no faith in what they say. Builders and painters both, who know naught of their craft, when hire is given according to the work accomplished, take that money and (leaving their work) rush home therewith ; though they get thousands, there is nothing even for a meal, they have not so much as a piece of cloth to wear, that is the reward of past births, as you know; dying, they fall into hell and suffer pain a hundred lacs of years ; if they escape they will possess a deformed body, and live in great distress ; when born as a man, it will be as a needy builder ; the painter’s eyes will squint— look ye, what livelihood can there be for him ? Builders who know their business well will become rajas lacking nought, so also cunning painters are meet to become nobles. Builders and painters taking money falsely from other men, thereby grow poor, so ancient sages have declared and shewn ; doubt not this saying was in the Mayamataya book of sages lore ; therefore, let builders and painters study Mayamataya : misfortunes ensuing in this world and the next are told of in its stanzas, behold how excellently.”

A few more words may be said as to the craftsman’s religious conception of his craft. I do not refer to the application of the craft to religious ends, but to the conception of its intrinsic religiousness. In “pagan” lands, there is no hard line drawn between the secular and the religious things in life ; religion is not so much a formula, as a way of looking at things, and so all the work of life may be a sacrament, may be done as it were unto the Lord.

Hindu craftsmen in certain parts of India “worship” the implements of their labour at the Dasahrā [दशहरा / தசரா] festival. This Hindu custom has survived amongst some Muhammadan converts, e.g., the thavais of Northern India, who worship their tools at the Id al-gitr [عيد الفطر], making offerings of sweetmeats to them.*

* Arnold, Hindu Survivals among Indian Muslims, Rep. III. Int. Con. Relig., 1908, /., 319.

In Gwalior [ग्वालियर], in the modem State workshops, the workmen prepare models of trains, machinery, etc., on which they have been engaged and pay honour to these at the Dasahrā [दशहरा] festival.

There is a God of the arts and crafts, whose name is Visvakarma [विश्वकर्मा / விசுவகர்மன்], who is described as the

‘lord of the arts, the carpenter of the gods, the fashioner of all ornaments, who formed the celestial chariots of the deities, on whose craft men subsist, and whom, a a great and immortal god, they continually worship.’ 

The Indian craftsmen, or, at least, the most important guild or caste of craftsmen, claim to be descended from the five sons of this deity, of whom 

  1. one was a blacksmith,
  2. the second a carpenter,
  3. the third a founder,
  4. the fourth a mason, and
  5. the fifth a goldsmith ;

and the followers of these crafts in Southern India form still one compact community.

We find some curious and suggestive mystical ideas, not without practical applications, associated with the personality of the craftsman. His work is regarded rather as a sacred mystery, as a sacrament, than as a secular “ trade.” In illustration of this I quote an extract from the Srimahavajrabhairavatantra, translated from the German version of Grünwedel*:

* "Mythologie des Buddhismus," p. 102.

“The painter must be a good man, no sluggard, not given to anger, holy, learned, self-controlled, devout and charitable, free from avarice—such should be his character. The hand of such a painter may paint on Sura-cloth. Would he attain to success, then enters the gift of the Sura into him. He should draw his design in secrecy, after having laid the cloth quite flat. He may paint if besides the painter only a sadhaka be present, but not if a man of the world be looking on.”*

* Interesting, though unfortunately abbreviated, details of the ritual preparation of the painter or imager for his work are given by Foucher, 'L'Iconographic Bouddhique de L' Inde.' II., pp. 7-14.

The Indian craftsman conceives of his art, not as the accumulated skill of ages, but as originating in the divine skill of Visvakarma [विश्वकर्मा / விசுவகர்மன்], and revealed by him. Beauty, rhythm, proportion, idea have an absolute existence on an ideal plane, where all who seek may find. The reality of things exists in the mind, not in the detail of their appearance to the eye. Their inward inspiration upon which the Indian artist is taught to rely, appearing like the still small voice of a god, that god was conceived of as Visvakarma. He may be thought of as that part of divinity which is conditioned by a special relation to artistic expression ; or in another way, as the sum total of consciousness, the group soul of the individual craftsmen of all times and places. Thus, king Duttha Gamani [දුටුගැමුණු, gest. 137 v. Chr.] having enquired of a master bricklayer in what form he proposed to build the monument required, it is stated that

“at that instant Visvakarma inspired him. The bricklayer, filling a golden dish with water, and taking some water in the palm of his hand, dashed it against the water in the dish ; a great globule, like a ball of crystal, rose to the surface ; and he said, 'I will construct it in this form.’ ” It is added that the delighted raja bestowed upon him a suit of clothesworth a thousand pieces, a splendid pair of slippers, and twelve thousand pieces of money."*

* Mahavamsa, Ch. XXX.

All this is an expression of a religious conception of life, and we see the working of such ideas in actual practice. A few years ago a reproduction was made of a room in a palace belonging to the Mahārāja of Bhavnagar [ભાવનગર]. The head carpenter was ordered to follow the ancient rules of his craft. As the work progressed, he observed that the finger of God was pointing the way, and that accordingly mistakes were impossible. In support of this, he quoted the ancient rules of his craft.

“The breadth of the room should be divided into twenty-four parts, of which fourteen in the middle and two at each end should be left blank, while the remaining two portions should each form windows or jalis [Gitterfenster]. The space between the plinth and upper floor should be divided into nine parts, of which one should be taken up by the base of the pillar, six parts by the column, one by the capital, and one by the beam over it. He then added that should any departure be made from these rules, the ruin of the architect and death of the owner were sure to follow.”*

* Sir George Watt, "Indian Art at Delhi."

The science of house building, says the Brihat Samhita [बृहत्संहिता],

“has come down to us from the Rishis (sages), who obtained it from Brahma.”

Can we wonder that a beautiful and dignified architecture is wrought in such a wise, and can such conceptions fail to produce serenity and dignity in life itself ? Under such conditions, the craftsman is not an individual expressing individual whims, but a part of the universe, giving expression to ideals of eternal beauty and unchanging laws, even as do the trees and flowers whose natural and less ordered beauty is no less God-given. The old-fashioned Eastern craftsman speaks with more than a touch of scorn of those who “draw after their own vain imagining,” and there is much to justify his view.

Finally, I give an account of the ceremony of painting the eyes of an image, as performed in Ceylon as illustrating a gorgeous and beautiful episode in the craftsman’s life, and showing him in the performance of priestly functions. I omit many details, more fully related in my “Mediaeval Sinhalese Art.” The ceremony, being the concluding episode in the construction or redecoration of a temple, often occupying several years, and an occasion graced by the presence of the patron of the work, in many cases the king himself, was an occasion of general rejoicing and- festivity. Crowds of men and women from neighbouring villages, dressed in white cloths, and bringing offerings of arecanut flowers, money, or other gifts to offer to the new image, or to the artists, found accommodation in temporary booths. In other booths were those who sold provisions. A bana maduva, or preaching hall, would be erected, and there would be much reading of sutras or Buddhist sermons. There would be abundance of white flags, music and dancing, gossip and edification.

Sometimes there was no royal patron, but the vihāra was erected by the subscriptions and assistance of the villagers themselves, who dedicated, with royal permission, small parcels of land for its maintenance. In one such case we read that the eager villagers were in such a hurry for their consecration festival, that they borrowed images from another temple for the occasion, before their own were ready. But let us suppose the king had ordered the temple to be erected by the state craftsmen of the court and district. The night before the ceremony the king and officers of the court, and often the ladies of the royal household, arrived, and found accommodation in special pavilions.

Ceremonies began with the recitation of the Kosala Bimba Varnanava, a legend of the making of a sandal-wood image of Buddha in his own time. Upon this followed the elaborate placing of eighty earthen pots, with offerings to Brahma [බ්රහ්ම] and Vishnu [විෂ්ණු], and the erection of altars to the regents of the eight points of the compass, with suitable offerings. Altars were also erected for the guardians of the door, whose images in ivory or wood had already been set on the jambs of the door of the image house, and an altar to the guardian of the site, the genius loci. These guardians of the temple are conceived of as pure and sweet natural powers, protectors of the shrine and guardians of the spiritual atmosphere about it. Within the temple an altar was erected to Gana Deviyō, and a rag figure prepared, afterwards to serve as a scapegoat to receive the first “glance” of the newly-painted eyes. All these arrangements were made by youths of the craftsman’s caste, dressed as Brahmans. Another man, wearing a red dress, made the offerings, recited mantrams, and circumambulated the temple sun-wise. Tom-tomming and other music was kept up continuously.

The final ceremony took place at five a.m., in memory of Buddha’s attainment of enlightenment at that hour so long ago in Kosala. The eyes of the image were painted by the king himself, or, in his absence, by the foreman craftsman in royal costume. The painter, accompanied by a second man, also robed, but less elaborately, and both with veiled heads, entered the temple, all others standing aloof. The second man carried the brushes, black paint, and a mirror. The latter was held before the image to receive its “glance.” A white cloth was spread by the village washerman for the painters to walk on as they passed from door to image. While the painter put in the eyes, or, in some cases, separate sclerotics of crystal or other material were affixed, the second man recited Sanskrit charms, and held up the mirror. The ceremony was repeated for each image of Buddha or of the gods. Immediately on its completion the painter veiled his eyes, and thus blindfolded was led out and away to a vessel of water already prepared. Here he purified himself by bathing his head, repeating the Indian formula of water-consecration, “Hail, O ye Ganges, Godāvarī, Sarasvatī, Narmadā, Indus, and Kāverī, come and hallow this water.” Then the painter cut the water with his sword, and the vessel was shattered. The painting of the eyes was deemed to be so sacramental, so great a mystery, that such purifications were needed to ensure immunity from evil that might fall upon the presumptuous mortal thus establishing a link ’twixt heaven and earth. Returning to the vihāra, the doors were opened. By this time the grey dawn had passed into day, and the sun was up. The patron and the foreman stood together on the threshold facing the people. The craftsman, repeating Sanskrit charms, sprinkled the people with water. The patron and the people then made offerings to the temple and to the craftsmen. The offerings of money, cloths, etc., made during a certain number of days, were set apart as perquisites of the craftsmen, in addition to the special remunerations already agreed upon, for in the case of important work, such as temple building, making of images, etc., payments in goods or money were agreed upon, in addition to the mere provision of sustenance during the progress of the work.

After such offerings, the people entered the temple to lay flowers on the altar and admire the paintings, with cries of Sadhu. After the festival had lasted several days, the people and craftsmen dispersed to their homes, the latter completing their purification by a pirit [පිරිත්]service—the only direct part in the proceedings taken by Buddhist priests. Throughout the rest of the ceremony all priestly offices had been performed by the craftsmen themselves, acting as Brahman priests. The whole ceremony, though, here described in Ceylon, is essentially Hindu in character, and is typical of the sacerdotal functions of the Kammālar [கம்மாளர்] craftsmen. It is of necessity, from the nature of their work in making or repairing images, moreover, that the right of entry, otherwise belonging only to Brahmans, should be given to the craftsmen also. 

In some parts of Southern India they claim, and occasionally possess, a social prestige equal to that of Brāhmans. Otherwise, they would be classed as “good Sūdras,” whose touch does not defile. It is said in Manu :

“The hand of a craftsman engaged in his art is always ceremonially pure.”

It is recorded in a Sinhalese grant of the early twentieth century that after such a ceremony as that described, the king (the last Kandyan king) appointed ecclesiastes for the temple service, and granted lands for its support, offering a palm leaf charter to the temple by laying it upon the altar.

Of the two manors dedicated, the king said that one was his mother’s, and she joined in the offering. Then the royal group walked round the temple, and the king, seeing a bare space of rock, ordered the charter to be cut on the stone, and this was done ; and it is there still. About two months later the king and his mother and sister visited the vihāra again, and the vizier read aloud the stone inscription, which was compared by the king with the original charter, in the presence of the chief priests, and praising the stone-cutters, he ordered them to be paid from the treasury.

And so in the old days religious architecture was the stronghold and foundation of the arts and crafts, and both together were fostered by successive kings, of whom it is said in the chronicle that they “were one with the religion and the people” ; but what was all that to the Georgian Christian Governor ? What did he care for the religion, the music, or the art of a people so utterly alien to himself in culture and traditions ? The royal craftsman found himself unsupported and unappreciated ; and now, like so many other descendants of the Indian craftsmen, he is merely an agriculturist, perhaps even works on a tea estate, or he lives only to make brass trays and other pretty toys for passing tourists whose lives and manners he does not understand, and for whom, as he well knows by experience, any bungling is good enough, since they know nought of good or bad craftsmanship even in their own land, and still less in his.

And now, instead of the king going in the grey dawn with his mother and sister to be present at the consecration of a temple built by his minister and vizier, we see—the Governor, a mere five years’ visitor, ignorant even of the people’s language, much more so of their traditions and their ideals, as he goes with his English wife and her fashionable lady friends to open a bazaar in aid of the local missionary school for the daughters of Kandyan [මහ නුවර] chiefs. Instead of the self-contained and independent village community, with its cultivated and forest lands, and its communal cultivation, there are the tea and rubber estates, and planters clamouring for a hut tax to induce the villager to work for them at profitable rates,—rates profitable, that is, to the canny shareholder away in England and Scotland ; instead of the king’s palace, we see the usual type of Government building, even uglier than in England, and a good deal more out of place ; instead of the king’s craftsmen, we see the government clerks, slaving away for a ten cents bonus for every error detected in somebody’s accounts. O Sacred Efficiency, what things are done in thy name!"

[Quelle: Coomaraswamy, Ananda K. (Ananda Kentish) [ආනන්ද කෙන්ටිෂ් කුමාරස්වාමි] <1877 - 1947>: The Indian Craftsman. -- London : Probsthain, 1909. -- 130 S. -- (Probsthain's Oriental Series ; 1). -- S. 66 - 82]

2.16.4. Zunft, Innung

5.b saṃhatais tair dvayoḥ śreṇiḥ sajātibhiḥ

संहतैस्तैर् द्वयोः श्रेणिः सजातिभिः ।५।

Wenn Gleichartige von diesen vereinigt sind, heißt das

  • श्रेणि - śreṇi f. - Zunft, Innung

Colebrooke (1807): "A company of artists."

"That the professional castes were wealthy and well organized follows from the dharmaśāstra works and epigraphic records. In this connection the words śreṇi, pūga, gaṇa, vrāta and saṅgha deserve to be carefully studied. All these were called samūha (group) or varga according to Kātyāyana.

These words occur in the Vedic literature, but the sense is generally ‘a group’ and there is no special meaning attached. 'śreṇi’ occurs in the Ŗg. 1. 163. 10    (like flamingoes the horses press forward in rows or groups ); both vrāta and gaṇa occur in Ŗg. III. 26. 6, V. 53. 11 and in numerous other places. The Kauṣītaki Br. 16. 7 speaks of Rudra as pūga ( as he is the head of the band of Maruts). Āp. Dh. S. I. 1. 3. 26 quotes a Brāhmaṇa passage about a group (saṅgha) of brahmacarins going about for alms. Pāṇini teaches the formation of derivatives from pūga, gaṇa, saṅgha (V. 2. 52), from vrāta (V. 2. 21). In his time it appears the words had acquired specific meanings. The Mahābhāṣya explains (on Pāṇini V. 2. 21) that vrātas are groups formed by men of various castes with no fixed means of livelihood but subsisting by the might (or strength) of their bodies (by bodily labour of various kinds). The Kāśikā explains pūgas as associations of men of different castes with no fixed professions, who are solely bent on making money or seeking pleasure. Kauṭilya in one place distinguishes between soldiers and śreṇis ( guilds ) and in another place says that the guilds of kṣatriyas in Kāmbhoja and Suraṣṭra subsist by the profession of arms and vārtā ( agriculture ). Vas. Dh. S. XVI. 15 says that boundary disputes are to be settled by the evidence of the old men in the village or town or of guilds ( śreṇi) when there is conflict of documentary evidence. Viṣṇu Dh. S. V. 167 prescribes banishment for him who embezzles the wealth of associations (gaṇa) and who transgresses the conventions made by them. Manu (VIII. 219 ) has a similar rule about village and local associations (saṅgha). The above words are variously explained by the several commentators (vide my notes to the translation of Kātyāyana verses 678-682 of that reconstructed smṛti). Kātyāyana says

  • ‘Naigama is an association of citizens of the same city,
  • vrāta is a company of soldiers carrying various arms,
  • pūga is an association of traders and the like, gaṇa is a group of brāhmaṇas,
  • saṅgha is a body of Bauddhas or Jainas;
  • and bands of cāṇḍālas and śvapacas are called gulma. ’

Yāj. ( I. 361) directs the king to punish kulas, castes, śreṇis, gaṇas, if they transgress their rules (of conduct or business) and the Mit. explains śreṇi as a guild of sellers of betel leaves and the like and gaṇa as of ‘ helābukas ’ ( horse-dealers); while Yāj. II. 192 and Nārada (samayasyānapākarma 2) require the king to prevent the breach of the conventions of śreṇi, naigama, pūga, vrāta, gaṇa and to confirm them in their traditional occupations. Yāj. II. 30 says that pūgas and śreṇis had authority to investigate disputes and that the pūga was a higher tribunal than the śreṇi. The Mit. on this explains that pūga is an association of people of different castes and different occupations that stay in one locality, while a śreṇi is a group of people of different castes, that subsist by the occupation of one caste and gives 'heḍābukas ’ ' tāmbūlikas ’ (betel sellers), ‘ kuvindas ’ ( weavers) and ‘ carmakāras ’ (shoe-makers) as examples of śreṇis. In the Hārṣa stone of Chāhamāna Vigraharāja ( E. I. vol. II. p. 124) there is a reference to one dramma for each horse given to ‘ heḍāvikas. ’ In the Nasik Inscription No. 15 ( E. I. vol. VIII p. 88) we are told that in the reign of the Ābhīra king Īśvarasena 1000 kārṣāpaṇas were deposited with an association of potters as a permanent donation yielding interest, 500 with a guild of oilmen and 2000 with a guild of watermen (udaka-yantra-śreṇi) for medicines to be given to sick bhikṣus. No. 9 and No. 12 of the inscriptions at Nasik also contain reference to deposits of money with the guild of weavers. The Mathurā Brāhmī inscription of Huviṣka’s reign mentions a guild of flour-makers (samitakara, vide E. I. vol. 21 p. 55 at p. 61). The Junnar Buddhist cave Inscription ( A. S. W. I. vol. IV p. 97 ) refers to an investment of monies with the guild ( śreṇi) of bamboo-workers and of braziers (kāsakāra). The Indore copperplate of Skandagupta (of the Gupta saṁvat 146 ) speaks of the deposit with the guilds of the oilmen of Indrapura for permanently securing a supply of two palas of oil (C. I. I, vol. III p. 70 ). Similarly it is said that a guild of silk weavers from Lāṭa (southern Gujarat [ગુજરાત]) came to Daśapura ( Dasor in Malwa) and built a temple of the sun in the Mālava year 494 i. e. 437-38 A. D. ( C. I. I. vol. III p. 81 = I. A. vol. 15 p. 194 ). These examples show that about the first centuries of the Christian era such castes as woodworkers, oilmen, betel sellers and weavers that are at present very low in the hierarchy of castes had very efficient caste guilds, so famous for their organization, integrity and stability that people deposited with them thousands for permanent services to objects of charity."

[Quelle: Kane, Pandurang Vaman <1880 - 1972>: History of Dharmasastra : (ancient and mediaeval, religious and civil law). -- Poona : Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. -- Vol. II, part I. -- 2. ed. -- 1974. -- S. 67ff. -- Fair use]


“The typical Hindu village consists exclusively of husbandmen ; but as husbandry and manufacture cannot exist without each other, the village had to receive a number of artisans as members of its governing body. But they are all 'strangers within the gate,’ who reside in a village solely for the convenience of the husbandmen on a sort of service contract. It is a perpetual contract, but in the lapse of 3,000 years, the artisans have constantly terminated their connection with a village, or have had to provide for sons in some other place, and they at once sought their livelihood in the towns which began to spring up everywhere round the centres of government, and of the foreign commerce of the country. It is in this way that the great polytechnical cities of India have been formed.”

Let us pass on to a picture of the craftsman as a member of a great guild of merchant craftsmen, controllers of the wealth of mighty cities and once of the markets of the world.

“Community oh interests would naturally draw together the skilled immigrants of these cities in trades unions ; the bonds of which in India, as was also the case in ancient Egypt, are rendered practically indissoluble by the force of caste. . . . The trade guilds of the great polytechnical cities of India are not, however, always exactly coincident with the sectarian or ethnical caste of a particular caste of artisans. Sometimes the same trade is pursued by men of different castes, and its guild generally includes every member of the trade it represents without strict reference to caste. The government of the guilds or unions is analogous to that of the village communities and castes, that is, by hereditary officers. Each separate guild is managed by a court of aldermen or mahajans [mahājana]literally ‘great gentlemen.’ Nominally it is composed of all the freemen of the caste, but a special position is allowed to the seths [seṭha], lords, or chiefs of the guild, who are ordinarily two in number, and hold their position by hereditary right. The only other office-bearer is a salaried clerk or gumasta.

“Membership in the guild is also hereditary, but new-comers may be admitted into it on the payment of an entrance fee, which in Ahmedabad [અમદાવાદ] amounts to £2 for paper-makers, and £50 for tinsmiths. No unqualified person can remain in or enter a guild. It is not the practice to execute indentures of apprenticeship, but every boy born in a working caste of necessity learns his father’s handicraft, and when he has mastered it, at once takes his place as an hereditary freeman of his caste or trade-guild ; his father, or if he be an orphan, the young man himself, giving a dinner to the guild on the occasion. In large cities the guilds command great influence. The Nagar-Seth [નગરસેઠ], or City Lord of Ahmedabad [અમદાવાદ], is the titular head of all the guilds, and the highest personage in the city, and is treated as its representative by the Government. In ordinary times he does not interfere in the internal affairs of the guilds, their management being left to the chief alderman of each separate guild, called the Chautano-Seth, or ‘ ord of the market.’ . . .The funds of the guilds of Western India, where they prevail chiefly among the Vaishnavas [vaiṣṇava] and Jainas of Gujarat [ગુજરાત], are for the greater part spent on charities, and particularly charitable hospitals for sick and helpless domestic animals : and in part also on the temples of the Maharajas [mahārāja] of the Wallabhacharya [శ్రీ పాద వల్లభాచార్యుడు, 1479 - 1531] sect of Vaishnavas, and on guild feasts. A favourite device for raising money is for the men of a craft or trade to agree on a certain day to shut all their shops but one. The right to keep open this one is then put up to auction, and the amount bid goes to the guild fund.”*

* Sir George Birdwood, "Industrial Arts of India," 1880, pp. 137-140.

The guilds likewise regulated the hours of labour, and the amount of work to be done in their workshops, by strict bye-laws, enforced by the levy of fines. But this old order is passing away.

“Under British rule, which secures the freest exercise of individual energy and initiative, the authority of the trade-guilds in India has necessarily been relaxed, to the marked detriment of those handicrafts, the perfection of which depends on hereditary processes and skill. The overwhelming importations of British manufactures also is even more detrimental to their prosperity and influence, for it has in many places brought wholesale ruin on the hereditary native craftsmen, and forced them into agriculture and even domestic service. But the guilds, by the stubborn resistance, further stimulated by caste prejudice, which they oppose to all innovations, still continue, in this forlorn way, to serve a beneficial end, in maintaining, for probably another generation, the traditional excellence of the sumptuary arts of India against the fierce and merciless competition of the English manufacturers. The guilds are condemned by many for fixing the hours of labour and the amount to be done in them by strict bye-laws, the slightest infringement of which is punished by severe fines, which are the chief source of their income. But the object of these rules is to give the weak and unfortunate the same chance in life as others more favoured by nature. These rules naturally follow from the theocratic conceptions which have governed the whole organisation of social life in India, and it is incontrovertible that the unrestricted development of the competitive impulse in modern life, particularly in the pursuit of personal gain, is absolutely antagonistic to the growth of the sentiment of humanity and of real religious convictions among men.”*

* Sir George Birdwood, "Industrial Arts of India," 1880, p. 139

The principles upon which they acted were, indeed, altogether socialistic, and realised as an accomplished fact many of the ideals for which the European worker is still fighting. Thus the guild both prevented undue competition amongst its members, and negotiated with other guilds in case of dispute amongst the craftsmen.

“In 1873, for example, a number of the bricklayers in Ahmedabad [અમદાવાદ] could not find work. Men of this class sometimes added to their daily wages by rising very early in the morning, and working overtime. But when several families complained that they could not get employment, the bricklayers’ guild met, and decided that as there was not enough work for all, no member should be allowed to work in extra hours, + . . . The trade-guild or caste allows none of its members to starve. It thus acts as a mutual assurance society and takes the place of a poor law in India. The severest social penalty which can be inflicted upon a Hindu is to be put out of his caste.”*

+ No incident could better illustrate the close relation of the industrial problems here treated of, and those in the modern West. For at the "Right to Work" Conference at the Guildhall, of December, 1908, one of the resolutions passed and afterwards laid before the Prime Minister, included a condemnation of overtime, based on the very sound principle laid down above.

* Sir W. W. Hunter, "Brief History of the Indian Peoples, 1903, ed. p. 98.

The following abbreviated details of the organisation of the Guilds in Ahmadabad [અમદાવાદ] are taken from the Imperial Gazetteer of India, Vol. V., p. 101 :

“In consequence of the importance of its manufactures of silk and cotton, the system of caste or trade unions is more fully developed in Ahmedabad [અમદાવાદ] than in any other part of Gujarat [ગુજરાત]. Each of the different castes of traders, manufacturers and artisans forms its own trade guild, to which all heads of households belong. Every member has a right to vote, and decisions are passed by a majority. In cases where one industry has many distinct branches, there are several guilds. Thus among potters, the workers of bricks, of tiles, and of earthen jars, are for trade purposes distinct; and in the great weaving trade, those who prepare the different articles of silk and cotton, form distinct associations. The objects of the guilds are to regulate competition among the members, e.g., by prescribing days or hours during which work shall not be done. The decisions of the guilds are enforced by fines. If the offender refuses to pay, and all members of the guild belong to one caste, the offender is put out of caste. If the guild contains men of different castes, the guild uses its influence with other guilds to prevent the recusant member from getting work. Besides the amount received from fines, the different guilds draw an income by levying fees on any person beginning to practise his craft. This custom prevails in the cloth and other industries, but no fee is paid by potters, carpenters and other inferior artisans. An exception is also made in the case of a son succeeding his father, when nothing has to be paid. In other cases the amount varies, in proportion to the importance of the trade, from Rs. 50 to Rs. 500. The revenue derived from these fees, and from fines, is expended in parts to the members of the guild, and in charity. Charitable institutions, or sadavart, where beggars are fed daily, are maintained in Ahmedabad [અમદાવાદ] at the expense of the trade guilds.”

How long ago the craftsmen were organized into these great municipal guilds, is suggested by a well-known passage in the Rāmāyana, describing the procession of citizens who went out into the forest with Bharata in search of Rāma. The gem-cutters, potters, weavers, armourers, ivory-workers, “well-known goldsmiths,” together with many others, the foremost merchants as well as the citizens of all classes went out to search for Rāma ; such a procession as even in the nineteenth century, perhaps even to-day, might be drawn together in one of the great merchant cities of Western India.

Again, we read in the Harivamsa,* of the preparations made for the royal family and citizens of Mathura to witness the contest between Krishna and Bālarāma and the king’s champions.

* Quoted by Wilson, Vishnu Purana, Vol. V., p. 27.

“The amphitheatre was filled by the citizens, anxious to behold the games. The place of assembly was supported by octagonal painted pillars, fitted up with terraces, and doors, and bolts, with windows, circular or crescent-shaped, and accommodated with seats with cushions,”

and so on ; and then we are told that

“ The pavilions of the different companies and corporations, vast as mountains, were decorated with banners, bearing upon them the implements and emblems of the several crafts.”

It is interesting to note also how much all this splendour depended upon these very crafts whose position was thus recognized and honoured ; for the tale goes on to say that

“The chambers of the inhabitants of the inner apartments shone near at hand, bright with gold, and painting, and net-work of gems ; they were richly decorated with precious stones, were enclosed below with costly hangings, and ornamented above with spires and banners.”

Compare with this, also, such a description as the following account of the preparations for the marriage of a princess (in the seventh century, a.d.) : 

“From every county were summoned companies of skilled artists . . . Carpenters, presented with white flowers, unguents, and clothes, planned out the marriage altar. Workmen mounted on ladders, with brushes upheld in their hands and pails of plaster on their shoulders, whitened the top of the street wall of the palace. . . . The outer terraces resounded with the din of gold-workefs engaged in hammering gold. Plasterers were beplastered with showers of sand which fell over them from freshly erected walls. A group of skilled painters painted auspicious scenes. Multitudes of modellers moulded clay figures of fishes, tortoises, crocodiles, cocoanuts, plantains and betel trees. Even kings girt up their loins and busied themselves in carrying out decorative work set as tasks by their sovereign.”*

* Bana's ' Harsha Carita,' Trans, by E. B. Cowell and F. W. Thomas, p. 124.

Another interesting mention of craftsmen in procession is found in the Mahāvamsa, where we are told that following the officials in the annual Perahera [පෙරහැර] at Kandy [මහනුවර], were

“people of strange countries, and men skilled in divers tongues, and numerous artificers and handicraftsmen.”

The period spoken of is the latter part of the eighteenth century.

I have not been able to hear of any accounts of guilds in Persia, where they must have existed from the earliest times. It is reported, however, that when in the recent troubles 14,000 people in Teheran [تهران ] took refuge in the foreign legations, each guild organised with perfect ease and order the policeing and feeding of its own people. This makes one realise how powerful an element in social stability is represented by the guilds even at the present day.

The nature of guild responsibility is well indicated in some of the Tanjore [தஞ்சாவூர்] inscriptions. A common form of pious offering consisted in the dedication of a lamp, i.e., providing for a lamp to be kept continually burning before a certain image. This was generally arranged by the payment of a sum of money, or more often by the gift of a certain number of sheep or cattle to the guild of shepherds, who undertook to provide the necessary oil in perpetuo. The payment for thus maintaining one sacred lamp was 96 ewes, or 48 cows, or 16 she-buffaloes.

“The shepherds who received the cattle, themselves and their people, viz., their relations, and the relations of the latter, had to supply ghi  [நெய்] to the treasury of the Lord, as long as the sun and moon endure, at the daily rate of one urakku of ghi . . for each sacred lamp.”*

* Hultzsch, South Indian Inscriptions, Vol. II., part III., p. 251.

The manner in which the shepherds as a guild bound themselves jointly as security for an individual contractor is as characteristic of true guild methods as their solidarity in the defence of their own interests would have been. In an inscription of Rajendra Soladeva [இராசேந்திர சோழன், gest. 1044] at Tanjore [தஞ்சாவூர்], we have a detailed account of this acceptance of responsibility by the guild of shepherds: 

 “We,” runs the inscription, “ all the following shepherds of this village .... agreed to become security for Eran Sattan, a shepherd of this village, (who) had received 90 ewes of this temple in order to supply ghi for burning one perpetual lamp. We shall cause the shepherd E.S. to supply daily to one perpetual lamp one ulakku of ghi ... If he dies, absconds, or gets into prison, fetters (or) chains, we all these aforesaid persons, are bound to supply ghi for burning the holy lamp as long as the sun and moon endure.”

This inscription ends with the name of a local merchant, who may have been the donor of the lamp.

The origin of the guild has not yet been worked out in any detail. With regard to the existence of actual guilds in early Buddhist times, the Jātakas give us but little information. The craftsmen associated in villages no doubt had their own laws and customs, tantamount to guild regulations, but of guilds in the great cities we hear little. In the Nigrodha Jātaka, however, it is stated that to the king’s treasurer was given also the judgeship of “ all the guilds ” (sabbaseninam).

 "Before that,” says the Jātaka, “ no such office existed, but there was this office ever after.”

In the Uraga Jātaka, a guild quarrel (senibhandana) is mentioned, between two men in the king’s service, who were heads of guilds (seni-pamukha.).*

* But in Rouse's translation of this Jataka, the quarrel is between two soldiers, not guild masters.

Such evidence belongs, however, to the period of redaction of the Jātakas rather than to the times described in them. There can be no doubt, however, that at least the germ of the guild system existed at a very early time in the form of co-operative associations within the merchant community.*

* Fick, "Indien zu Buddha's Zeit," pp. 172-177.

The merchant (setthi) himself was at a very early time a man of much wealth and social importance. He was the principal representative of the householder (gahapati) class, the typical burgher in the great town. The word setthi in some cases seems to imply a private trader, in others, a representative of commerce, holding an official position at court.+ Many such merchants were evidently exceedingly wealthy ; of one we are told that goods were brought to him in a caravan of no less than 500 wagons. But any detailed enquiry into the position of the trader, as a middleman, and not himself a craftsman, would be exceeding the limits of the subject of the present volume.

 + Fick, "Indien zu Buddha's Zeit," pp. 172

In slightly later literature the existence of guilds is more clearly indicated. In the Dharma sūtras it is stated that the farmers, merchants, cowherds and money-lenders had bye-laws of their own. applicable to their communities, and having due legal validity. In later law books, guilds (sreni [śreṇī]are often mentioned, e.g., Manu, viii. 41, where it is stated that the king must examine and establish the laws of the guilds. Likewise in the epics, the guilds are recognised as an important factor in industrial and political life."

[Quelle: Coomaraswamy, Ananda K. (Ananda Kentish) [ආනන්ද කෙන්ටිෂ් කුමාරස්වාමි] <1877 - 1947>: The Indian Craftsman. -- London : Probsthain, 1909. -- 130 S. -- (Probsthain's Oriental Series ; 1). -- S. 7 - 19]


Robert Knox [1641 - 1729], whose book, published in 1682, is still the best written and most interesting account of Ceylon, gives an amusing account of the craftsmen, incidentally mentioning an interesting form of regulation whereby to each smith a monopoly of the work in a special district was reserved.

“These Smiths,” he says, “take much upon them, especially those who are the King’s Smiths ; that is, such who live in the King’s Towns, and do his work. They have this Privilege, that each has a parcel of Towns belonging to them, whom none but they are to work for. The ordinary work they do for them is mending their Tools, for which every man pays to his Smith a certain Rate of Corn in Harvest time according to ancient Custom. But if any has work extraordinary, as making new tools or the like, beside the aforesaid Rate of Corn, he must pay him for it. In order to this, they come in an humble manner to the Smith with a Present, being Rice, Hens, and other sorts of provision, or a bottle of Rack, desiring him to appoint his time when they shall come to have their work done. Which when he hath appointed them, they come at the set time and bring both Coals and Irons with them. The Smith sits very gravely upon his stool, his Anvil before him, with his left hand towards the forge, and a little Hammer in his Right. They themselves who come with their work must blow the Bellows, and when the Iron is to be beaten with the great Maul, he holds it, still sitting upon his Stool, and they must hammer it themselves, he only with his little Hammer knocking it sometimes into fashion. And if it be anything to be filed, he makes them go themselves and grind it upon a Stone, that his labour of filing may be the less ; and when they have done it as well as they can, he goes over it again with his file and finisheth it. That which makes these Smiths thus stately is because the Towns People are compelled to go to their own Smith, and none else. And if they should, that Smith is liable to pay Damages that should work for any in another Smith’s jurisdiction.”

Of the King’s Towns, or Royal Manors in Ceylon, Knox says also :

“In each of these Towns there is a Smith to make and mend the Tools of them to whom the King hath granted them, and a Potter to fit them with earthenware, and a Washer to wash their Cloaths, and other men to supply what they have need of. And each one of these hath a piece of land for this their service, whether it be to the King or the lord; but what they do for the other People they are paid for. Thus all that have any Place or Employment under the King, are paid without any charge to the King.”

A special feature of the guild activity has been alluded to already, in the statement that no unqualified person could remain in or enter it. It was, indeed, one of the most important functions of the guild in India, as in Europe, to maintain the Standard of quality, both of material and design. A forlorn trace of this survives in Europe in the hallmarking of gold and silver; and even that is not concerned with quality of design. In other cases the king or the State became responsible for the regulation of the craft sometimes in connection with the necessity for effective means of collecting the tolls and dues. The principle of Regulation is recognized in that fascinating and, for the study of Indian society, all - important law - book, the “Ordinances of Manu ” :

“ He who avoids a custom-house, he who buys or sells at an improper time, or he who makes a false statement in enumerating his goods, shall be fined eight times the amount of duty which he tried to evade. Let the king fix the rates for the purchase and sale of all marketable goods, having duly considered whence they come, whither they go, how long they have been kept, the probable profit and the probable outlay. Once in five nights, or at the close of each fortnight, let the king publicly settle the prices of the merchants.”

Here we see recognized the important doctrine of the “fair price,” so striking a feature of the commercial ideas of Mediaeval Europe. The commercial morality of the individual is also safeguarded :

“ A weaver who has received ten palas of thread, shall return cloth weighing one pala more ; he who acts differently shall be compelled to pay a fine of twelve paṇas. . . . All weights and measures must be duly marked, and once in six months let the king re-examine them.”

Closely bound up with these arrangements is the system of taxation, which amounts to what we should now call an income tax, or more exactly, a royalty, the due contribution from the trader to the State which protects him and the king his patron, and here also we see provision for the estimation of the fair price :

“Let the king take one-twentieth of that amount which men well acquainted with the settlement of tolls and duties, and skilful in estimating the value of all kinds of merchandise, may fix as the value for each saleable commodity.”

So also Yajnavalkya, 1360 :

“ A king, having duly corrected the castes, families, guilds of artisans (śreṇi), schools and communities of people that have swerved from the duty of their caste (sva-dharmāt), should place them in the right path.”

Let us examine a few instances of these commercial principles at work in India.

In the time of Chandragupta (3rd cent, b.c.) there were six Municipal Boards in Pataliputra, of which the first was entrusted with the superintendence of everything relating to the industrial arts : fixing the rate of wages, and enforcing the use of pure and sound materials, as well as the performance of a fair day’s work for fair wages. These boards consisted of five members each, and may be regarded as a development on official lines of the ordinary pancayat or committee of five members by which every caste and trade in India has been accustomed to regulate its internal affairs from time immemorial. The State regulation of craft appears to have been connected with the collection of tolls and revenues, and the two things hung together.

A reference to guilds and regulations is found in the Ain-i-Akbari [آئینِ اکبری], or Institutes of Akbar (sixteenth century), in the chapter dealing with the duties of the Kotwal [کوتوال], or City Officer.

“Out of each class of artificers he shall select one to be at their head, and appoint another their broker for buying and selling, and regulate the business of the class by their reports ; and they shall regularly furnish him with journals attested by their respective seals. ... He shall see that the market prices are moderate, and not suffer anyone to go out of the city to purchase grain ; neither shall he allow the rich to buy more than is necessary for their own consumption.”*

* Ayeen Akbery, F. Gladwin, 1800.

To this day the citizens of Srinagar [سِری نَگَر] lament the prosperous days of old, when the trade was not free, as it is now is.

“They have a common saying to the effect that when the taxation went the prosperity of the city went also, and they explain this by the fact that the removal of taxation led to the breaking up of what were practically guilds sanctioned and protected by the State. When the taxation was removed outsiders rushed in, and competition at once reduced prices of art wares. Copper-work, which sold at seven rupees per seer in the days of taxation, now sells at three rupees, and this is the case with many other art wares.”

In the days of taxation also :    .

“The State exercised a vigorous supervision over the quality of the raw material and the manufactured article. In the good days of the shawl-trade no spurious wool was brought in from Amritsar [ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਸਰ] to be mixed with the real shawl-wool of Central Asia, and woe betide the weaver who did bad work or the silversmith who was too liberal with his alloy. There is no such supervision nowadays. Competition has lowered prices, and the real masters of weaving, silver, papier-maché and copper-work have to bend to the times and supply their customers with cheap, inferior work. Ask an old artist in papier-maché to show the work which formerly went to Kabul [کابل], and he will show something very different from the miserable trash which is now sold. But the Pathans [پٹھان] of Kabul paid the price of good work ; the visitors to the valley want cheap work, and they get it.”*

* Sir W. Lawrence, "The Valley of Kashmir," p. 373- The italics are not in the original.

And so the story goes on. Let us take another case. Says Sir George Birdwood :

“ Formerly, ... a great industry in gold embroidered shoes flourished at Lucknow [लखनऊ]. They were in demand all over India, for the native kings of Oudh [अवध] would not allow the shoemakers to use any but pure gold wire on them. But when we annexed the kingdom, all such restrictions were removed, and the bazaars of Oudh were at once flooded with the pinchbeck embroidered shoes of Delhi [दिल्ली], and the Lucknow shoemakers were swept away for ever by the besom of free trade.”*

* "Industrial Arts of India," II., p. 64.

And thus we see at work the degradation of standard, which is undermining alike the crafts of the East and of the West.

“Under British rule,” says Sir George Birdwood, “ the authority of the trade guilds in India has necessarily been relaxed, to the marked detriment of those handicrafts the perfection of which depends on hereditary processes and skill.”

Modern individualism, in fact, whether we call it “ Laissez Faire ” in Manchester, or the introduction of “Free Western Institutions ” into India, hesitates to interfere with a man’s sacred individual liberty to make things as badly as he likes, and to undermine the trade of his fellows on that basis—a basis of competition in cheapness, not in excellence ; and the result we know. Surely a strange product of civilization this !

Perhaps it is necessary to explain that in thus contrasting “Free Trade” with the status of “protected ” industries, I do not intend at all to advocate “Protection” as commonly understood. The “Protection” which is here advocated is the protection of standard; this must be carried out in most cases not by the taxation of imports, but by the absolute prohibition of the importation of any goods whose quality falls below the standard established. The hall-marking of gold and silver is almost the only survival of this power formerly exercised by the trade guilds in England, and here it is only quality of material that is considered, not of design. In recent times, the principle has been put in practice in the prohibition of aniline dyes by Kashmir [کشمیر]. The principle, however, requires great extension, if standard is to be maintained; and it is best done by restoring to the guilds that power of control which they formerly possessed. For the State to merely tax, and profit by, the importation of the inferior goods—“Protection” as ordinarily understood—would be quite futile from the present point of view. Equally foolish would be the taxation of goods which for one reason or another can better be made in another country than one’s own. Each country should excel in its own special productions, and protect their standard ruthlessly."

[Quelle: Coomaraswamy, Ananda K. (Ananda Kentish) [ආනන්ද කෙන්ටිෂ් කුමාරස්වාමි] <1877 - 1947>: The Indian Craftsman. -- London : Probsthain, 1909. -- 130 S. -- (Probsthain's Oriental Series ; 1). -- S. 57 - 65]

5.c kulakaḥ syāt kulaśreṣṭhī

कुलकः स्यात्कुलश्रेष्ठी ॥५॥

Der Vorsteher einer Zunft/Innung (कुल - kula  n. Herde, Familie) heißt

  • कुलक - kulaka m. - Zunftmeister

Colebrooke (1807): "One eminent by birth."


2.16.5. Einzelne Handwerker Kranzler

5.d. mālākāras tu mālikaḥ

मालाकारस्तु मालिकः ॥५॥

Kranzbinder / Florist:

  • मालाकार - mālā-kāra m. - Kranzmacher
  • मालिक - mālika m. - Kranzler

Colebrooke (1807): "A florist"


Beispiele zu: Kranzler. -- URL: Töpfer

6.a kumbhakāraḥ kulālaḥ syāt

कुम्भकारः कुलालः स्यात्पलगण्डस्तु लेपकः ।६।


  • कुम्भकार - kumbha-kāra m. - Topfmacher
  • कुलाल - kulāla m. - Töpfer

Colebrooke (1807): "A potter."


Beispiele zu: Töpfer. -- URL:öpfer.htm

Abb.: Hindoo Potter and Female
[Bildquelle: Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India. -- Manuskript. -- 1837. -- -- Zugriff am 1017-04-15]

"§ 42. Potters (3,521,800). The Potter is one of the recognised village staff, and in return for his customary share in the harvest is bound to furnish the earthenware vessels required for domestic use. His occupation goes back to the time of the Vedic Sūktas, and varies in its demands upon the worker according to the customs of the province or tract, the consumption of earthen platters being in some parts enormous, whilst elsewhere metal is substituted, except for water and storage.

The position of the Kumhār [कुम्हार], Kumbhār [कुंभार], or Kuśavan [കുശവൻ], is above that of the helots, but is undoubtedly low. This is made manifest by the association of the caste with the donkey, the saddle-animal of Śītalā [শীতলা], the goddess of smallpox. The Dhōbī [धोबी], or washerman, is the only other of the settled or village castes which makes use of that useful, but in India foul-feeding, animal. Where the caste is much subdivided those who use the bullock for carriage are superior to the patron of the humbler animal. Those who work on the wheel, again, do not intermarry with those who use a mould or make images. Elsewhere there is a distinction drawn between the artificer who only makes large vessels, and accordingly stands to his work, and him who squats on the ground.

As in the case of the weavers and oil-pressers, the Bengal [বঙ্গ] potter seems to enjoy a better position than his comrade of upper India.

In Madras [மதராஸ்], too, both Telugu [తెలుగు] and Tamil [தமிழ்] Kuśavan [കുശവൻ] wear the sacred thread, and some sub-divisions employ Brāhmans, as in Bengal [বঙ্গ], whilst others have priests of their own community. Where bricks are in use the potter undertakes the kiln, and though, as above stated, he has to use fuel collected from sweepings and other refuse, he is not called upon to touch the lowest kinds of filth, and escapes therefore the condemnation inflicted upon the scavenger. His donkey, too, where it is in general use, is employed when the kiln is not in operation in carrying grain and other produce. In most parts of the country, the potters sometimes hold land, and in others take service in large households. In the Telugu [తెలుగు] country they are even in request as cooks, one of their traditional occupations in that region."

[Quelle: Baines, Athelstane <1847 - 1925>: Ethnography (castes and tribes) / by Athelstane Baines. With a list of the more important works on Indian ethnography by W. Siegling <1880 - 1946>. -- Strassburg : Trübner, 1912. -- 211 S. -- (Grundriss der indo-arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde = Encyclopedia of Indo-Aryan research ; II, 5). -- § 42]

"Truest to nature, in the directness and simplicity of its forms, and their adaptation to use, and purest in art, of all its homely and sumptuary handicrafts is the pottery of India; the unglazed rude earthenware, red, brown, yellow, or grey, made in every village, and the historical glazed earthenware of Madura [மதுரை], Sindh [سندھ ], and the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ].

Unglazed pottery is made everywhere in India, and has been from before the time of Manu: and the forms of it shewn on ancient Buddhist and Hindu sculptures, and the ancient Buddhist paintings of Ajanta [अजंता], are identical with those still everywhere thrown from the village handwheels. In the sculptures of Bhuvaneswar [ଭୁବନେଶ୍ୱର] the form of the kalasa [kalaśa], or water jug, is treated with great taste as an architectural decoration, especially in its use as an elegant finial to the temple towers. In the same sculptures is seen the form of another water vessel, identical with the amriti, or “nectar” bottle, sold in the bazaars of Bengal.

It is impossible to attempt any enumeration of the places where unglazed pottery is made, for its manufacture is literally universal, and extended over the whole and to every part of India. Mr. Baden Powell, however, cites the following places in the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ] as worthy of special mention for their unglazed earthenware :

  • Amritsar [ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਸਰ],
  • Cashmere [کشمیر],
  • Dera Ghazi Khan [ڈیرہ غازی خان],
  • Dera Ismail Khan [ڈیرہ اسماعیل خان], 
  • Gugranwalla [گوجرانوالہ],
  • Hazara [هزاره],
  • Hushiarpur [ਹੁਸ਼ਿਆਰਪੁਰ],
  • Jhelam [جہلم],
  • Kangra [काँगड़ा],
  • Kohat [کوهاټ], 
  • Lahore [لہور],
  • Ludhiana [ਲੁਧਿਆਣਾ],
  • Montgomery [مونٹگومری],
  • Rawulpindi [راولپنڈی], and
  • Shahpur [شاه پور].

In Bengal [বঙ্গ] the village pottery

  • of Sawan in Patna [पटना],
  • of Bardwan [বর্ধমান],
  • of Ferozepur [পিরোজপুর] in Dacca [ঢাকা], and
  • Dinajpur [দিনাজপুর] in Rajshahye [রাজশাহী]

are noted : and in Bombay [मुंबई] that

  • of Ahmedabad [અમદાવાદ] in Gujarat [ગુજરાત], and
  • of Khanpur [ಖಾನಾಪುರ+] in the collectorate of Belgaum [ಬೆಳಗಾವಿ].

The principal varieties of Indian fancy pottery made purposely for exportation are

  • the red earthenware pottery of Travancore [തിരുവിതാംകൂര്] and Hyderabad [حیدر آباد] in the Deccan,
  • the red glazed pottery of Dinapur [दिनापुर],
  • the black and silvery pottery of Azimghar in the North-Western Provinces,
  • and Surrujgurrah in Bengal [বঙ্গ] [Bhagalpur {भागलपुर}],
  • and imitation bidri [ಬಿದ್ರಿ] of Patna [पटना] and Surat [સુરત] in Gujarat [ગુજરાત],
  • the painted pottery of Kota [कोटा] in Rajputana [राजपुताना],
  • the gilt pottery of Amroha [अमरोहा] also in Rajputana [राजपुताना],
  • the glazed and unglazed pierced pottery of Madura [[மதுரை]], and
  • the glazed pottery of Sindh [سندھ ] and the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ].

In all these varieties of Indian pottery an artistic effect is consciously sought to be produced.

The Azimghar pottery, like most of the art-work of the Benares [बनारस] district, and eastward, is generally feeble and rickety in form, and insipid and meretricious in decoration, defects to which its fine black color, obtained by baking it with mustard oilseed cake, gives the greater prominence. The only tolerable example of it I have ever seen is the water-jug in the India Museum, which attracts, and in a way pleases, because of the strangeness of look given to it by the pair of horn-like handles. The silvery ornamentation is done by etching the pattern, after baking, on the surface, and rubbing into it an amalgam of mercury and tin; thus producing the characteristic mawkish and forbidding effect, which, however, the unsophisticated potter of Azimghar does not attempt to mystify by calling it by any of those artful, advertising “cries” wherewith so much ado about nothing is sometimes made in English high art galleries.

Very different is the glazed pottery of Sindh [سندھ ] and the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ]. The charms of this pottery are the simplicity of its shapes, the spontaneity’, directness, and propriety of its ornamentation, and the beauty’ of its coloring.

The first thing to be desired in pottery is beauty of form, that perfect symmetry and purity of form which is

“When unadorn’d, adorn’d the most.” [James Thomson, 1700 – 1748]

When we get it, we desire nothing more for the satisfaction of the eye. But for household use pottery must generally be glazed, and neither glazing nor coloring need detract from its dignity or comeliness, while they often enhance the delicacy of surface necessary for the complete exposition of gracefulness of configuration. If any ornamentation is applied, it must be skilfully subordinated to the form to which it is superadded, so as not in any way to divert attention from it. Nothing can be in worse taste, nor, in an aesthetic sense, more wasteful, than to hide a lovely form under an excess of foreign ornament. It is really no less so to obscure it by producing the effect of birds and flowers floating about it, as is unintentionally done in so much English pottery, painted in perspective and with shadow; or by wilfully producing the illusion of a form dissimilar to the real form ornamented, as in Japanese pottery, in which the attempt is often deliberately made to distract the eye by the most violent optical surprises and deceits.

On the other hand, in the best Indian pottery, we always find the reverent subjection of color and ornamentation to form, and it is in attaining this result that the Indian potter has shewn the true artistic feeling and skill of all Indian workmasters in his handiwork. The correlation of his forms, colors, and details of ornamentation is perfect, and without seeming premeditation, as if his work were rather a creation of nature than of art; and this is recognised, even in the most homely objects, as the highest achievement of artifice. The great secret of his mastery is the almost intuitive habit of the natives of India of representing natural objects in decoration in a strictly conventional manner; that is to say, symmetrically, and without shadow. In this way the outline of the form ornamented is never broken. The decoration is kept in subordination to the form also by the monotonous repetition of the design applied to it, or by the simple alteration of two or, at the most, three designs. Also, never more than two or three colors are used, and when three colors are used, as a rule, two of them are merely lighter and darker shades of the same color. It is thus that the Indian potter maintains inviolate the integrity of form and harmony of coloring, and the perfect unity of purpose and homogeneity of effect of all his work. The mystery of his consummate work is a dead tradition now: he understands only the application of its process; but not the less must it have been inspired in its origin by the subtlest interpretation of nature. 

The potter’s art is of the highest antiquity in India, and the unglazed water vessels, made in every Hindu village, are still thrown from the wheel in the same antique forms represented on the ancient Buddhistic sculptures and paintings. Some of this primitive pottery is identical in character with the painted vases found in the tombs of Etruria, dating from about B.C. 1000. I do not suggest any connexion between them; it is only interesting to find that pottery is still made all over India, for daily use, which is in reality older than the oldest remains we possess of the ceramic art of ancient Greece and Italy. None of the fancy pottery made in India is equal in beauty of form to this primitive village pottery; and most of it is utterly insignificant and worthless.

The only exception is the glazed pottery of Madura [மதுரை], and Sindh [سندھ ] and the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ], which alone of the fancy varieties can be classed as art pottery, and as such is of the highest excellence.

Plate 76: Glazed pierced pottery of Madura [மதுரை]

The Madura [மதுரை] pottery [Plate 76] is in the form generally of water bottles, with a globular bowl and long upright neck; the bowl being generally pierced so as to circulate the air round an inner porous bowl. The outer bowl and neck are rudely fretted all over by notches in the clay, and are glazed either dark green or a rich golden brown.

Plate 70

Plate 71

Plate 72

Plate 73

Plate 74

Plate 75

Plate 70 - 75: Glazed pottery of Sindh [سندھ ]

The glazed pottery of Sindh [سندھ ] [Plates 70-75] is made principally at

  • Hala [هـالا],
  • Hyderabad [حیدرآباد],
  • Tatta [ٺٽو], and
  • Jerruck [جھرڪ],

and that of the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ] at 

  • Lahore [لہور],
  • Multan [ملتان],
  • Jang [جنگ],
  • Delhi [दिल्ली / دلی / ਦਿੱਲੀ],

and elsewhere.1

1 The master potters known to me by name are

  • Jumu, son of Osman the Potter, Karachi [كراچى];
  • Mahommed Azim, the Pathan, Karachi [كراچى];
  • Messrs. Nur, Mahommed, and Kadmil, Hyderabad [حیدرآباد];
  • Ruttu Wuleed Minghu, Hyderabad [حیدرآباد];
  • and Peranu, son of Jumu, Tatta [ٺٽو].
  • Mr. Kipling sends me the name of Mahommed Hashim at Multan [ملتان].

The chief places for the manufacture of encaustic tiles are at Bulri and Saidpur [سیدپور] in Sindh [سندھ ]. It is said that the invasion and conquest of China by Chingiz Khan [ᠴᠢᠩᠭᠢᠰ], 1212, was the event that made known to the rest of Asia and Europe the art of glazing earthenware; but, in fact, the Saracens from the first used glazed tiles for covering walls, and roofs, and pavements, and of course with a view to decorative effect. The use of these tiles had come down to them in an unbroken tradition from the times of the “ Temple of Seven Spheres,” or Birs-i-Nimrud, at Borsippa [بورسيبا], near Babylon, of the temple of Sakkara [سقارة] in Egypt, and of the early trade between China and Egypt, and China and Oman, and the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates. Diodorus [Διόδωρος, 90 - 30 v. Chr.], describing [after Ctesias [Κτησίας]] the circular wall of the royal palace at Babylon, says:

 “The whole portrayed a royal hunting scene, beautified with divers colored forms of men and beasts, baked in the clay, and much like unto nature .... There was Simiramis [ܫܲܡܝܼܪܵܡ], killing a tiger, and by her side her husband Ninus, piercing his spear through a lion.” 

Glazed tiles had, however, fallen into comparative disuse before the rise of the Saracens, and it was undoubtedly the conquests of Chingiz Khan [ᠴᠢᠩᠭᠢᠰ], A.D. 1206-1227, which extended their general use throughout the nations of Islam. The glazed pottery of the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ] and Sindh [سندھ ] probably dates from this period, and, as we shall presently see, was directly influenced by the traditions surviving in Persia of the ancient civilisations of Nineveh and Babylon. It is found in the shape of drinking cups, and water bottles [cf. pot and Latin poto, I drink], jars, bowls, plates, and dishes of all shapes and sizes, and of tiles, pinnacles for the tops of domes, pierced windows, and other architectural accessories. In form, the bowls, and jars, and vases may be classified as egg-shaped, turband, melon, and onion-shaped, in the latter the point rising and widening out gracefully into the neck of the vase. They are glazed in turquoise, of the most perfect transparency, or in a rich dark purple, or dark green, or golden brown. Sometimes they are diapered all over by the pâte-sur-pâte method, with a conventional flower, the seventi, or lotus, of a lighter color than the ground. Generally they are ornamented with the universal knop and flower pattern, in compartments formed all round the bowl, by spaces alternately left uncolored and glazed in color. Sometimes a wreath of the knop and flower pattern is simply painted round the bowl on a white ground [Plate 72].

Mr. Drury Fortnum, in his report on the pottery at the International Exhibition of 1871, observes of the Sindh [سندھ ] pottery:

“The turquoise blue painted on a paste beneath a glaze, which might have been unearthed in Egypt or Phoenicia—a small bottle painted in blue or white—is of the same blood and bone as the ancient wares of Thebes .... But the tiles are very important. .... They are in general character similar to, although not so carefully made as, the Oriental tiles known as Persian, which adorn the old mosques of Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and Persia . . . . The colours used upon them are rich copper green, a golden brown, and dark and turquoise blue .... The antiquary, the artist, and the manufacturer will do well to study these wares. As in their silk and woollen fabrics, their metal work and other manufactures, an inherent feeling for and a power of producing harmony in the distribution of color and in surface decoration exists among the Orientals, which we should study to imitate, if not to copy. It is not for Europeans to establish schools of art, in a country the productions of whose remote districts are a school of art in themselves, far more capable of teaching than of being taught.”

It is a rare pleasure to the eye to see in the polished corner of a native room one of these large turquoise blue sweetmeat jars on a fine Kirman [کرمان] rug of minimum red ground, splashed with dark blue and yellow. But the sight of wonder is, when travelling over the plains of Persia or India, suddenly to come upon an encaustic-tiled mosque. It is colored all over in yellow, green, blue, and other hues; and as a distant view of it is caught at sunrise, its stately domes and glittering minarets seem made of purest gold, like glass, enamelled In azure and green, a fairy-like apparition of inexpressible grace and the most enchanting splendor.

In giving the following receipts of the different preparations used in enamelling Sindh [سندھ ] and Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ] pottery, it is as well to say that they are of little practical value out of those countries. It will be noted that a great deal is thought, by the native manufacturers, to depend on the particular wood, or other fuel used, in the baking, which, if it really influences the result, makes all attempts at imitating local varieties of Indian pottery futile.

In the glazing and coloring two preparations are of essential importance, namely kanch [कांच], literally glass, and sikka, oxides of lead. In the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ] the two kinds of kanch [ਕਾਂਚ]used are distinguished as Angrezi kanchi [ਅੰਗਰੇਜ਼ੀ ਕਾਂਚੀ], “English glaze,” and desi-kanchi [ਦੇਸ਼ੀ ਕਾਂਚੀ]“country glaze.”

Angrezi kanchi [ਅੰਗਰੇਜ਼ੀ ਕਾਂਚੀ] is made of sang-i-safed [سنگٔ سفيد], a white quartzose rock 25 parts; sajji [सज्जी], or pure soda, 6 parts; sohaga telia [सोहागा], or pure borax, 3 parts ; and nausadar or sal ammoniac, 1 part. Each ingredient is finely powdered and sifted, mixed with a little water, and made up into white balls of the size of an orange. These are red-heated, and after cooling again, ground down and sifted. Then the material is put into a furnace until it melts, when clean-picked shora kalmi, or saltpetre, is stirred in. A foam appears on the surface, which is skimmed off and set aside for use.

The desi-kanchi [ਦੇਸ਼ੀ ਕਾਂਚੀ] is similarly made, of quartzose rock and soda, or quartzose rock and borax, or siliceous sand and soda. A point is made of firing the furnace in which the kanch [ਕਾਂਚ] is melted with kikar, karir, or Capparis wood.

Four sikka, or oxides of lead, are known, namely, sikka safed [सफेद], white oxide, the basis of most of the blues, greens, and greys used ; sikka zard [ज़रद], the basis of the yellows; sikka sharbati, litharge ; and sikka lal [लाल], red oxide.    ·

Sikka safed [सफेद] is made by reducing the lead with half its weight of tin; sikka zard [ज़रद] by reducing the lead with a quarter of its weight of tin; sikka sharbati by reducing with zinc instead of tin; and sikka lal [लाल]in the same way, oxidising the lead until red. The furnace is always heated in preparing these oxides with jhand, or Prosopis wood. The white glaze is made with one part of kanch [कांच]and one part sikka safed [सफेद] [white oxide] well ground, sifted, and mixed, put into the kanch [कांच] furnace, and stirred with a ladle. When melted, borax in the proportion of two chittaks to the ser [1 chittak = 1/16 ser; 1 ser = 2 2/5 lbs. avoirdupois] is added. If the mixture blackens, a small quantity of shora kalmi, or saltpetre, is thrown in. When all is ready, the mixture is thrown into cold water, which splits it into splinters, which are collected and kept for use. All the blues are prepared by mixing either copper or manganese, or cobalt, in various proportions with the above white glaze. The glaze and coloring matter are ground together to an impalpable powder ready for application to the vessel.

The following are the blue colors used :—

  1. Firoza [फ़िरोज़ा], turquoise blue: 1 ser of glaze, and I chittak of chhiltamba [छील तांबा], or calcined copper.
  2. Firozi-abi, pale turquoise: 1 ser of glaze, and 1/24 of calcined copper.
  3. Nila [नीला], indigo blue: 1 ser of glaze, and 4 chittaks of reta, or zaffre (cobalt).
  4. Asmani [आसमानी], sky blue: 1 ser of glaze, and 1½ chittak of zaffre.
  5. Halka-abi, pale sky blue: 1 ser of glaze, and 1 chittak of zaffre.
  6. Kasni, pink or lilac: 1 ser of glaze, and 1 chittak of anjani, or oxide of manganese.
  7. Sosni, violet: 1 ser of glaze, and 1½ chittak of mixed manganese and zaffre.
  8. Uda, purple or puce: 1 ser of glaze, and 2 chittak of manganese.
  9. Khaki [ख़ाकी], grey: 1 ser of glaze, and 1½ chittak of mixed manganese and zaffre.

The rita or zaffre is the black oxide of cobalt found all over Central and Southern India, which has been roasted and powdered, mixed with a little powdered flint. Another mode of preparing the nila  [नीला], or indigo blue glaze, for use by itself, is to take:

Powdered flint 4
Borax 24
Red oxide of lead 12
White quartzose rock 7
Soda 5
Zinc 5
Zaffre 5

All are burnt together in the kanch [कांच] furnace as before described. The yellow glaze used as the basis of the greens is made of sikka zard, white oxide 1 ser, and sang safed [सफेद], a white quartzose rock, or millstone, or burnt and powdered flint, 4 chittaks, to which, when fused, 1 chittak of borax is added.

The green colors produced are :—
  1. Zamrudi, deep green: 1 ser of glaze, and 3 chittaks of chhil tamba [छील तांबा], or calcined copper.
  2. Sabz [सब्ज़], full green: 1 ser of glaze, and 1 chittak of copper.
  3. Pistaki [पिस्ताकी], or Pistachio (bright) green: 1 ser of glaze, and 1½ chittak of copper.
  4. Dhani [धा], or Paddy (young shoots of rice), green: 1 ser of glaze, and 1/128   chittak of copper.
Another green is produced by burning one ser of copper filings with nimak shor, or sulphate of soda.

The colors, after being reduced to powder, are painted on with gum, or gluten. The vessel to receive them is first carefully smoothed over and cleaned, and, as the pottery clay is red when burnt, it is next painted all over with a soapy, whitish engobe—prepared with white clay and borax and Acacia and Conocarpus gums—called kharya mutti. The powdered colors are ground up with a mixture or nishasta, or gluten and water, called mawa until the proper consistence is obtained, when they are painted on with a brush. The vessels are then carefully dried and baked in a furnace heated with ber, or Zizyphus, or, in some cases, Capparis wood. The ornamental designs are either-painted on off-hand, or a pattern is pricked out on paper, which is laid on the vessel and dusted with the powdered color along the prickings, thus giving a dotted outline of the design, which enables the potter to paint it in with all the greater freedom and dash. It is the vigorous drawing, and free, impulsive painting of this pottery which are among its attractions. The rapidity and accuracy of the whole operation is a constant temptation to the inexperienced bystander to try a hand at it himself. You feel the same temptation in looking on at any native artificer at his work. His artifice appears to be so easy, and his tools are so simple, that you think you could do all he is doing quite as well yourself. You sit down and try. You fail, but will not be beaten, and practise at it for days with all your English energy, and then at last comprehend that the patient Hindu handicraftsman’s dexterity is a second nature, developed from father to son, working for generations at the same processes and manipulations. The great skill of the Indian village potter may be judged also from the size of the vessels he sometimes throws from his wheel, and afterwards succeeds in baking. At Ahmedabad [અમદાવાદ] and Baroda [વડોદરા], and throughout the fertile pulse and cereal-growing plains of Gujarat [ગુજરાત], earthen jars, for storing grain, are baked, often five feet high; and on the banks of the Dol Samudra, in the Dacca [ঢাকা] division of the Bengal [বঙ্গ] Presidency, immense earthen jars are made of nearly a ton in cubic capacity. The clay figures of Karttikeya [কার্তিকেয়], the Indian Mars, made for his annual festival by the potters of Bengal [বঙ্গ], are often twenty-seven feet in height.

The Indian potter’s wheel is of the simplest and rudest kind. It is a horizontal fly-wheel,· two or three feet in diameter, loaded heavily with clay around the rim, and put in motion by the hand; and once set spinning, it revolves for five or seven minutes with a perfectly steady and true motion. The clay to be moulded is heaped on the centre of the wheel, and the potter squats down on the ground before it. A few vigorous turns and away spins the wheel, round and round, and still and silent as a “sleeping” top, while at once the shapeless heap of clay begins to grow under the potter’s hand into all sorts of faultless forms of archaic fictile art, which are carried off to be dried and baked as fast as they are thrown from the wheel. Any polishing is done by rubbing the baked jars and pots with a pebble. There is an immense demand for these water-jars, cooking-pots, and earthen frying-pans and dishes. The Hindus have a religious prejudice against using an earthen vessel twice, and generally it is broken after the first pollution, and hence the demand for common earthenware in all Hindu families. There is an immense demand also for painted clay idols, which also are thrown away every day after being worshipped; and thus the potter, in virtue of his calling, is an hereditary officer in every Indian village. In the Dakhan, the potter’s field is just outside the village. Near the wheel is a heap of clay, and before it rise two or three stacks of pots and pans, while the verandah of his hut is filled with the smaller wares and painted images of the gods and epic heroes of the Ramayana and Mahabharata. He has to supply the entire village community with pitchers and cooking pans, and jars for storing grain and spices and salt, and to furnish travellers with any of these vessels they may require. Also, when the new corn begins to sprout, he has to take a water-jar to each field for the use of those engaged in watching the crop. But he is allowed to make bricks and tiles also, and for these he is paid, exclusively of his fees, which amount to between 4l. and 5l. a year. Altogether he earns between 10l. and 12l. a year, and is passing rich with it. He enjoys, beside, the dignity of certain ceremonial and honorific offices. He bangs the big drum, and chants the hymns in honour of Jami, an incarnation of the great goddess Bhavani [भवानी], at marriages; and at the domra, or village harvest home festivals, he prepares the barbat or mutton stew. He is, in truth, one of the most useful and respected members of the community, and in the happy religious organisation of Hindu village life there is no man happier than the hereditary potter, or kumbar [कुम्हार].

We cannot overlook this serenity and dignity of his life if we would rightly understand the Indian handicraftsman’s work. He knows nothing of the desperate struggle for existence which oppresses the life and crushes the very soul out of the English working man. He has his assured place, inherited from father to son for a hundred generations, in the national church and state organisation ; while nature provides him with everything to his hand, but the little food and less clothing he needs, and the simple tools of the trade. The English working man must provide for house rent, coals, furniture, warm clothing, animal food, and spirits, and for the education of his children before he can give a mind free from family anxieties to his work. But the sun is the Indian workman’s co-operative landlord, coal merchant, upholsterer, tailor, publican, and butcher; the head partner, from whom he gets almost everything he wants, and free of all cost but his labor contribution towards the trades union village corporation of which he is an indispensable and essential member. This at once relieves him from an incalculable dead weight of cares, and enables him to give to his work, which is also a religious function, that contentment of mind and leisure, and pride and pleasure in it for its own sake, which are essential to all artistic excellence.

The cause of all his comfort, of his hereditary skill, and of the religious constitution under which his marvellous craftsmanship has been perfected is the system of landed tenure which has prevailed in India, and stereotyped the social condition and civilisation of the country from the time of the Code of Manu. The Indian ryotwari tenure, or system of peasant proprietorship, is first and most simply described in the Bible, in chapter xlvii of Genesis. In the seven years of plenty in Egypt, Joseph [יוֹסֵף] gathered the fifth part of all the grain grown in those plenteous years, and laid it up in the cities; and when the famine came, in the first year he gathered into Pharaoh’s treasury all the money in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan [כנען‎‎] for the corn which he sold to the starving people, and when their money failed, all their cattle; and in the second year, when their money was spent, and their herds gone, he took from them all their lands, and even bought themselves into slavery, and fed them with bread for their land and the service of their bodies for that year. Thus the whole land of Egypt became the property of king Pharaoh, and all the gold and silver of the people beside, and when only their bodies were left before him, they were sold in bondage to the king. And having swept away the ancient freehold proprietors of Egypt, Joseph made a new distribution of the land among the husbandmen, requiring them to pay in return one-fifth part of their crops as rent or tax into the king’s treasury. This is the regular ryotwari tenure, with a very moderate assessment ; for whereas in most Asiatic countries the assessment generally amounts to one-half the crop, Joseph exacted only one-fifth ; and it is not surprising, therefore, to find that the children of Israel, who dwelt in the land of Goshen [ארץ גושן], and had in possession the best of the land therein, prospered and multiplied exceedingly. The temple endowments, the lands of the priests, Joseph did not touch. This is a peculiarly interesting chapter for Anglo-Indians. In the end, only the legends of human pathos survive in history, and Joseph is popularly known chiefly in connexion with the story of his evil treatment by his brethren, and his touching requital of tenfold goodness into their bosoms. He was really the astute and farsighted author of one of the greatest and most successful agrarian revolutions on record, beside which the revenue reforms of Todar Mal [gest. 1589] [ٹوڈرمل], under Akbar [1542 - 1605]  [جلال الدین محمد اکبر], and the “Cornwallis [Permanent] Settlement” of 1793, and the revenue survey of the North-Western Provinces, by Robert Bird, in 1824, shrink into insignificance. The system of peasant proprietorship may possibly contribute indirectly to retard the advancement of a country, even where it does not conduce directly to the petrifaction of its civilisation, as in India. Under it the Hindu ryot has become so strongly attached, by the most sacred and deeply rooted ties, to the soil that, rather than relinquish his hold on it, he will burden himself and his heirs with debt for generations; and gradually, under the Hindu practice of inheritance, the holdings become so minutely subdivided, and overburdened by mortgages, that extended cultivation and high farming are made almost impossible. Notwithstanding the superior education of the Scotch peasantry, and the livelong example of the benefits of high farming ail around them, it is only in the last few years that the “ ortioners” of the Lothians and the Merse have learned to combine together to work their “common lands” by the steam plough. At this rate the village communities of the Dakhan may be expected to postpone the scientific cultivation of the limitless arable soil of India to the Greek Kalends. It is a notable fact that while machinery should have been so readily applied in India to the production of textile and other manufactures, in which its use is injurious, its introduction in agricultural operations, in which it would so incalculably benefit the people, has been found impossible. It is quite impossible under the land system of the country at present I remember a steam plough being introduced with great éclat into the Bombay [मुंबई] Presidency. It was led in procession into the field, wreathed in roses and all of us who went to see it were wreathed with roses, and sprinkled with attar. But it was found impossible, utterly, to make any use of it It was introduced into a fixed crystallised sacro-economic system in which it had no place, unless as a new divinity, and a new divinity and an idol it was made. It was put away into the village temple, and there, after a time, its great steel share was bedaubed red, and worshipped as a god. As a mere question of accounts, there can be no doubt of the solvency of India; but, owing to the restricted and imperfect cultivation of its soil, it is incapable of supporting the great cost of good government in modern times with the elasticity and buoyancy which would at once result from the proper development of its really inexhaustible agricultural resources. The country grows rich too slowly, and the demands of a scientific government increase on it too rapidly, and the reason of it undoubtedly consists in the Indian form of peasant proprietorship. Then again, under this system, as it has been elaborated in India, there is a great loss of personal and national energy. The whole community is provided for; every man in it has his ordered place and provision. There is no stimulus to individual exertion, and the mass of the people are only too well contented to go on for ever in the same old-fashioned conservative ways as their fathers from time immemorial before them. In England the law of primogeniture, while so hard on younger sons, by throwing them on their own resources, to provide for themselves in the free professions, and in commerce and the colonies, has had the most beneficial influence on the energy of the race, and the growth of the wealth and political liberties and power of the country during the last two hundred years. Primogeniture, also, has given England a highly cultivated and powerful governing class : and every parish in the country has its “King in Israel.” All this may be conceded, and even the desirableness, in the last far-off result, of a change in the old order of village life in India, to something newer and more modem. It is only to be hoped that the inevitable revolution will be left alone to the tranquil operation of time, and of the economic causes by which the country is being gradually affected through its connexion with England. Perhaps the first forward step in the new departure will be taken by the much abused village soukar, or banker. The ryot, the pet lamb fatted up for the revenue commissioner’s knife, is protected by the paternal Government against all others having a claim on his fleece. The Government has only mercilessly to leave him alone with his secular enemy, the soukar [साहूकार], and the village fields would probably soon pass from the poor peasant proprietor to the rich banker, and, held in fee simple, might at last be cultivated with the fullest advantage to the landlord and the State. Of course, under such a system of unrestricted competition for the soil the communal villages would disappear. The ryotwari tenure is very like freehold, but as it, in benevolence to the ryot, allows him to retain his lands as long as he pays the assessment on them, although he may never cultivate them, it so far restricts the transfer and proper cultivation of the land. Also, among an ignorant peasant population, the periodical revision of the assessment, paternally devised in the ryot’s own interest, only serves to make him uncertain of the fixity of his tenure, and thus to restrict the improvement of his property. Even the annual settlement, which is not made to reassess the land, but to determine the amount of remission to be made for bad crops, and fields not cultivated, leads to the same result, and to unsettlement of mind and ill-will toward the Government. The ryot schemes through all the year, even against his own best interest, to swell the remissions as much as possible, and is never quite satisfied with the amount actually allowed him. The whole of this indictment against the ryotwari tenure, prevailing over the greater part of India, may be conceded, but we owe to it the conservation through every political change of the primitive arts of India, and when it becomes disorganised and perishes, they too will sink and pass away for ever. Popular art cannot exist in the face of the stark competition ever fomented by the development of external commerce in all things, including the possession of the soil, to which competition some theorists would sacrifice even national existence. We have already seen this in England. In the fifteenth century that agrarian revolution began in this country which, in the end, accumulated the national lands in the hands of comparatively few proprietors. It was then that the old rural townships began to fail in the competition with the foreign importations drawn to London ; and more and more extended pasture farming became necessary to supply the wool, woollen fabrics, skin, hides, leather, and cheese for exportation to the Continent. Under the growing pressure of competition for the land, Henry VIII [1491 - 1547] was tempted to the suppression of the monasteries, and the secularisation of their property led gradually to the general extinction of the old rural communities, in whose existence was now involved the whole tradition of democratic culture and the continuity of popular progress in England. Still one-third of the country was held in copyhold at the beginning of the seventeenth century. But just then began our great commerce round the Cape of Good Hope with India, and the investment of the fortunes made in it in land; and thus at length the self-dependent peasant proprietors were everywhere swept away, and with them the last refuge of the popular arts in England. There can in fact be no popular arts without popular traditions, and traditionary arts can arise only among a people whose social and municipal institutions are based in perpetuity on a democratic organisation of their inherent right and property in the national soil, such as is secured to the people of India by the ryotmari tenure. This it is which has created for them the conditions of society, so picturesque in its outward aspects, so unaffected and fascinating in its inner life, in which the arts of India originated, and on the permanence of which their preservation depends. For leagues and leagues round the old Maratha [मराठा] cities of Poona [पुणे] and Sattara [सातारा] stretch fields of corn and pulse and oil grains and deep dyeing flowers, the livelier verdure of the rice fields following the courses of the irriguous nullahs [نلہ] like a green thread wrought in gold; and rich orchards, and high groves of mango mark the sites of the villages hidden in their shade. Glad with the dawn the men come forth to their work, and glad in their work they stand all through the noontide, singing at the well or shouting as they reap and plough; and when the stillness and the dew of evening fall upon the land like the blessing and the peace of God, the merry-hearted men gather with their cattle, in long winding lines, to their villages again. Slowly, over all the wide champaign, the black lines shrink and disappear into the lengthening shadows of the mango-trees, and the day is closed in night. Thus day follows day, and the year is crowned with gladness. It is in the contemplation of such scenes as these that the Englishman in India drinks deep of the bliss of knowing others blest. Do they not truly realise that life of contentment in moderation which is the favorite theme of Horace ? Here is no

“ Indigent starveling among mighty heaps.”

The accumulation of immoderate wealth is impossible,

“ Yet far aloof is irksome poverty.”

And are not these the conditions under which popular art and song have everywhere sprung, and which are everywhere found essential to the preservation of their pristine purity ? To the Indian land and village system we altogether owe the hereditary cunning of the Hindu handicraftsman. It has created for him simple plenty, and a scheme of democratic life, in which all are coordinate parts of one undivided and indivisible whole, the provision and respect due to every man in it being enforced under the highest religious sanctions, and every calling perpetuated from father to son by those cardinal obligations on which the whole hierarchy of Hinduism hinges. India has undergone more religious and political revolutions than any other country in the world ; but the village communities remain in full municipal vigor all over the Peninsula. Scythian [Σκύθαι], Greek [Graeci], Saracen, Afghan [افغان], Mongol [ᠮᠣᠩᠭᠣᠯᠴᠤᠳ], and Maratha [मराठा] have come down from its mountains, and Portuguese, Dutch, English, French, and Dane up out of its seas, and set up their successive dominations in the land; but the religious trades union villages have remained as little affected by their coming and going as a rock by the rising and falling of the tide; and there, at his daily work, has sat the hereditary village potter amid all these shocks and changes, steadfast and unchangeable for 3,000 years, Macedonian [Μακεδονία], Mongol, Maratha [मराठा], Portuguese, Dutch, English, French and Dane of no more account to him than the broken potsherds lying round his wheel.

I have gone thus fully into the Indian village potter’s surroundings and antecedents because it is only by a chronological and historical reduction and a right knowledge of its economical conditions that we can get at all profitably at the origin of an art. It need not be said how much an intelligent study of the influences under which the arts of India have been produced and are sustained will help to a fuller understanding of the origin and development of Indo-European art generally. The languages and mythologies of the Indo-European nations were never recognised to be one, until the key to their unity was found in the sacred language and religion of the Hindus, and the scientific investigation of Indian art will not fail to lead to profitable, and perhaps even surprising, results.

The enamelled pottery of Sindh [سندھ ] and the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ] is a sumptuary and not a village art, and is probably not older than the time of Cenghiz Khan [gest. 1227]. In all the imperial Mogol cities of India where it is practised, especially in Lahore [لہور] and Delhi [دلی], the tradition is that it was introduced from China, through Persia, by the Afghan Mongols, through the influence of Tamerlane’s [1336 - 1405] [تيمور لنگ‎‎ ] Chinese wife; and it is stated by independent European authorities that the beginning of ornamenting the walls of mosques with colored tiles in India was contemporary with the Mongol conquest of Persia. But in Persia the ancient art of glazing earthenware had come down in an almost unbroken tradition from the period of the greatness of Chaldaea and Assyria, and the name kasi, by which the art is known in Persia and India, is probably the same Semitic word, kas [كأس], glass, by which it is known in Arabic and Hebrew, and carries us back direct to the manufacture of glass and enamels, for which “great Zidon [𐤑𐤃𐤍]” was already famous 1,500 years before Christ. The pillar of emerald in the temple of Melcarth, at Tyre, which Herodotus describes as shining brightly in the night, “can,” observes Kenrick, “ hardly have been anything else than a hollow cylinder of green glass, in which, as at Gades, a lamp burnt perpetually.” The designs used for the decoration of this glazed pottery in Sindh [سندھ ] and the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ] also go to prove how much it has been influenced by Persian examples, and the Persian tradition of the ancient art of Nineveh [𒌷𒉌𒉡𒀀] and Babylon [𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠]. The “knop and flower” pattern, which we all know in Greek art as the “honeysuckle and palmette” pattern, appears in infinite variations on everything.

The old glazed tiles to be seen in India are always from Mahommedan buildings, and they vary in style with the period to which the buildings on which they are found belong; from the plain turquoise blue tiles of the earlier Pathan [پٹھان] period, a.d. 1193 - 2254, to the elaborately-designed and many-colored tiles of the latter part of the great Mogol period [گورکانیان / مغلیہ سلطنت], a.d. 1556-1750. Whereever also the Mahommedans extended their dominion they would appear to have developed a local variety in these tiles. The India Museum has some remarkable examples of glazed tiles from the ruins of Gaur [গৌড়], the old Mahommedan capital of Bengal [বঙ্গ], which was erected into, a separate kingdom almost simultaneously with Delhi [دلی] itself. Mahomed Bakhtiar [c. 1160 - 1206] [اختيار الدين محمد بن بختيار الخلجي], the conqueror of Bihar, under Katub-ud-din [1150 – 1210]  [قطب الدین ایبک], became, a.d. 1203, first king of the dynasty, which ruled there until the state was absorbed into Akbar’s [1542 - 1605]  [جلال الدین محمد اکبر] vast empire, a.d. 1573. But the city of Gaur [গৌড়], was a famous capital of the Hindus long before it was taken possession of by the Mahommcdans. The Sena [সেন] and Bellala dynasties seem to have resided there, and no doubt, says Mr. Fergusson [History of Indian Architecture, pp. 546, et seq.] adorned it with temples and edifices worthy of their fame. Be this as it may, some of the oldest of the India Museum Gaur [গৌড়] tiles are not of any style of Mahommedan glazed tiles known elsewhere in India, and have a marked Hindu character, quite distinct from the blue, and diapered, and banded tiles which are distinctive of Mahommedan manufacture elsewhere in India, before the florid designs of the Mogol period came into vogue. It is quite possible therefore that enamelled pottery was made in India long anterior to the age of Cenghiz Khan. It would be well to examine any ruins about the Sena [সেন] capital of Nuddea [নদিয়া] for old tiles to compare with those of Gaur [গৌড়]. It is not at all improbable that in a country of brick architecture like Bengal [বঙ্গ] glazed bricks were used by the Buddhists and Hindus for ages before the Mahommedan conquest.

The Bombay [मुंबई] School of Art Pottery we owe chiefly to the exertions of Mr. George Terry, the enthusiastic superintendent of the school, who has a quick sympathy with native art. He has introduced some of the best potters from Sindh [سندھ ], and the work Mr. Terry’s pupils turn out in the yellow glaze in Bombay [मुंबई] is now with difficulty distinguishable from the indigenous pottery of Sindh [سندھ ]. It is only to be identified by its greater finish, which is a fault. The School of Art green and blue pottery always betrays its origin by some inherent defect in the glaze or clay used. Mr. Terry has also developed two original varieties of glazed pottery at Bombay [मुंबई], the designs in one being adapted with great knowledge and taste from the Ajanta [अजंता] cave paintings, and the popular mythological paintings of the Bombay [मुंबई] bazaars ; while in the other they are of his, or his pupils’ own inspiration, and derived from leaf and flower forms. Examples of all these varieties of the Bombay [मुंबई] School of Art Pottery, of the imitation Sindh [سندھ ] and the Terry ware, have been put together in a separate case in the India Museum. The glazed pottery which comes from Bombay [मुंबई] of Sindhian designs on Chinese and Japanese jam and pickle pots are a violation of everything like artistic and historical consistency in art, and if they are not ignorant productions of the pupils of the School of Art they are a most cruel slander on them. It is such eccentricities as these which have led people to doubt the utility of establishing English schools of art in India.

But if it is an unpardonable error to darken by the force and teaching of English schools of art, and the competition of Government jails, and other state institutions and departments in India, the light of tradition by which the native artists in gold and silver, brass and copper, and jewelry, and in textiles and pottery, work, it is an equal abuse of the lessons to be taught by such an exhibition of the master handicrafts of India as the India Museum presents for the manufacturers of Birmingham, and Manchester, and Staffordshire, to set to work to copy or imitate them. Of late years the shop windows of Regent Street and Oxford Street have been filled with electrotype reproductions of Burmese, Cashmere [کشمیر], Lucknow [लखनऊ], Kutch [કચ્છ], and Madras [மதராஸ்] silver and gold work, along with Manchester, Coventry, and Paisley imitations of Indian chintzes, kincobs, and shawls. Porcelain vases and tea services may also be seen covered all over with the Cashmere cone pattern copied literally in the gaudiest colors from some Cashmere shawl. This is simply to deprave and debase English manufactures and English taste. No people have by nature a truer feeling for art than Englishmen and women of all classes, or purer elements of a national decorative style and methods : and the right and fruitful use of looking at superb examples of Indian jewelry, tapestries, and pottery, is not to make literal counterfeits of them, but to kindle the sense of wonder and imagination in ourselves to nobler achievements in our own indigenous industrial arts. Art at second hand is already art in its decay ; while nothing serves to maintain its perennial spontaneity and purity like the inspiration which comes of the contemplation of the best examples of foreign art. English manufacturers should visit the India Museum, not to slavishly plagiarise, but to receive into their breasts a stimulating and elevating influence from the light and life of a traditional art still fresh and pure, as at its first dawning two or three thousand years ago on the banks of the ancient Indus [سندھ], the mystic Saraswati [सरस्वती], and sacred Ganges[गंगा]."

[Quelle: Birdwood, George C. M. (Christopher Molesworth) <1832 - 1917>: The industrial arts of India. -- London : Chapman, 1880. -- 344 S. -- (South Kensington Museum art handbooks). -- S. 301 - 324] Anstreicher / Pflasterer

6.b palagaṇḍas tu lepakaḥ

पलगण्डस्तु लेपकः

Anstreicher / Pflasterer:

  • लेपक - lepaka m. -- Anschmierer
  • पलगण्ड - palagaṇḍa m.

Colebrooke (1807): "A bricklayer or plasterer." Weber

6.c tantuvāyaḥ kuvindaḥ syāt

तन्तुवायः कुविन्दः स्यात्


  • तन्तुवाय - tantu-vāya m. - Weber
  • कुविन्द - kuvinda m. - Weber

Colebrooke (1807): "A weaver"


Beispiele zu: Weber. -- URL:


§ 1. — The Weavers Generally.

The weaving industry of India was, until recently, a very lucrative one, and it, therefore, happens that it is not the monopoly of any particular caste. The most important classes engaged in it are: —

In Bengal [বঙ্গ] 1. Tanti Population in Bengal [বঙ্গ] 472,798.
2. Tatwa Do. Do. 328,778.
3. Julaha Do. Do. 726,781.
4. Kapali Do. Do. 134,002.
5. Jugi* Do. Do. 406,473.
In Assam 1. Tanti Population in Assam 11,002.
2. Jugi



In N.-W. P. 1. Kori Population in N. -W. Provinces 924,795.
2. Julaha Do. Do. 902,125.
3. Chipa Do. Do. 36, 245.
In Western India 1. Koshti Population in the Bombay [मुंबई] Presidency 70, 274.
2. Sali Do. Do. 59, 181.
3. Khatri Do. Do. 51, 740.
4. Thakerda Do. Do. 63, 232.
5. Rawalia Do. Do. 53, 688.
6. Devang Do. Do. 38, 275.
In Southern India 1. Kai Koia Total population  in the MadrasPresidency 316,620.
2. Sali Do. Do. 308,285.
3. Patwa Do. Do. 74,374.
4. Togata Do. Do. 59,208.
5. Domba Do. Do. 74,249.

The total population of the several classes of weavers in India is 9,369,902 souls. But all these classes are not Hindus. The Julahas, who form one-fourth of the entire population, may have been at one time low caste Hindus, but are now all Mahomedans. Even among those classes of weavers that are Hindus, the caste status of many is very low, and they certainly do not belong to the group called Nava Sayakas or the nine Sudra castes.

The weavers of India were, until recently, a very prosperous class; but the importation of machine-made piece-goods* from Manchester has, of late, thrown many thousands of them out of employ.

* With regard to the effect of the importation of machine-made piece-goods on the condition of the Indian weavers, Mr. Risley makes the following observations: “ Although the Tantis admit weaving to be their immemorial profession, many of them have of late years been driven by the influx of cheap machine-made goods to betake themselves to agriculture. It is difficult or impossible to say with any approach to accuracy what proportion of the caste have abandoned their original craft in favour of trade or agriculture. The Uttara Kula Tantis of Western Bengal [বঙ্গ] have, on the whole, adhered to weaving, and it is popularly believed that their comparative poverty is mainly due to their attachment to the traditional occupation of the caste. Among the Aswini or Moriali about one-third are supposed to have given up weaving and settled down as regular cultivators. — Risley's Tribes and Castes of Bengal, Vol. II, p. 301.

It must be exceedingly difficult for a foreigner to appreciate exactly the story of human misery implied in the above. If thirty-three per cent, of any class of Tantis have reconciled themselves, by hard necessity, to the handling of the plough, perhaps another thirty-three percent, died of sheer starvation, before the survivors in the struggle could think of giving up their ancestral looms and shuttles, and adopting such a plebeian occupation as agriculture.

These dragged on a life of poverty for some years, and at last either died of semi-starvation, or were forced by necessity to become menial servants or tillers of the soil. As the hand-looms of India are now constructed, the best weaver, with the assistance of his whole family to dress and card the yarn, cannot turn out more than five yards of cloth in a day; but the motive power required to work such a loom is very slight, and the machinery might certainly be so improved as to enable one man to work at least half-a-dozen similar looms. It is said by some that if the weaving industry of India has ceased to be paying in consequence of the competition of foreign piece-goods, the Indian weavers should, despite their caste prejudices, take up some other line of business. The principle of Free Trade has been invoked in order to justify our indifference, and that of our Government, to the sufferings brought on the millions of our weavers by the import of Manchester piece-goods. But neither the science of Political Economy nor the principle of Free Trade requires that when foreign goods make their way into the markets of a country, the people of it should make no efforts to save the sinking vessel of their own industries. The principle of Free Trade insists only upon absolute freedom being left to the consumer to buy his goods from the cheapest and best market according to his own judgment.

In this country domestic industry alone suits the genius of the people, and, so far as the weaving industry is concerned, it is certainly not desirable, even from the point of view of Political Economy, that the hand-looms should be superseded by steam-power looms. Domestic industry does not involve any expenditure on account of supervision, mill buildings, or brokerage to company promoters. Domestic industry cannot render it necessary to collect raw materials or manufactured goods in one place to such an extent as to involve the risk of any heavy loss by fire, shipwreck or damp. The skill possessed by the people of a country in any art being, according to the science of Political Economy, an important part of its capital, India is at present suffering a prodigious loss, through allowing the skill acquired by her weavers by generations of practice to remain unemployed and become deteriorated. A very little improvement in the hand-looms might not only enable them yet to hold their own against foreign competition, but save the heavy loss to the Indian people and to the world which now takes place in freight, insurance, warehousing and other charges incurred unnecessarily for the benefit of Manchester. The weavers of India are themselves too ignorant of the mechanical sciences, and too poor at present, to make the necessary improvements in their looms, by their own capital and exertions. The matter is one which deserves the earnest attention of our publicists.

§ 2. — The Tantis of Bengal [বঙ্গ],

The Tantis of Bengal [বঙ্গ] are Sudras of the Nava Sayaka or Upper nine group. They are divided into many sub-castes, which, however, need not be mentioned here. The Brahmans who minister to the clean Sudra castes like the Tantis are not, as already observed, degraded for ever, though as Sudra Yajakas (priests of Sudras) they are looked down upon by the Asudra Pratigrahis, i. e., those who never take any gifts from Sudras. The Tantis being a clean caste their men and women are eligible for domestic service in the houses of the Brahmans. The following are the usual surnames of the Tantis of Bengal [বঙ্গ]

1. Basaka Surname of the higher class Tantis of Dacca [ঢাকা], some of whom are now settled in Calcutta.
2. Guin Surnames peculiar to the Tantis of Bengal [বঙ্গ]
3 Nan
4. Ash
5. Bhar
6. Radhi
7. Bhit
8. Seal A surname of both Tantis and Sonar Baniyas.
9. Nandi A surname of the Kāyasthas, Telis and Tantis.
10. Datta A surname of the Kāyasthas, Tantis, Sonar Baniyas, &c.
11. Pal A surname of the Kāyasthas, Telis, Goalas and Tantis.
12. Shah A Mahomedan title which is the usual surname of the wine-selling caste called Sunri; some of the Dacca [ঢাকা] Tantis have also this surname.
13. Aitch A surname of the Kāyasthas and the Tantis.
14. Pramanik A surname of many of the middle class and inferior Sudras such as the Teli, Napit, Tanti, Tura, &c.
15. Chandra A surname of the Kāyasthas, Sonar Baniyas and Tantis.

Generally speaking, all the Tantis of Bengal [বঙ্গ] are Yishnuvites and teetotalers. Like the other superior Sudra castes of Bengal [বঙ্গ], they do not allow divorce or the re-marriage of widows. It is, however, said that some of the Tantis openly live in their houses with widowed females of different castes. The admission of concubines in the dwelling-house and their treatment as wives are common enough among the unclean castes. But such instances among the superior classes are very rare—the discipline of caste being among them still powerful enough to keep under a wholesome check any tendency towards such defiance of public opinion.

The weavers of Calcutta are its earliest settlers, and being still in possession of a considerable portion of its land, they are, generally speaking, a well-to-do class. But the condition of their castemen in the interior has in recent times become indeed deplorable, as stated already. The only places in the interior of Bengal [বঙ্গ] where a few well-to-do Tantis may still be found are Dacca [ঢাকা] and Santipore. The fine muslins for which these places are famous still command very high prices in the market, and the weavers employed in the industry have not yet been materially affected by the cheap and coarse products of the Manchester mills.

According to the traditional belief of the people of this country, the weavers are as a class very dull-headed. But, as a matter of fact, the weavers of Calcutta have attained very high University distinctions, and are not very inferior to the Brahmans and Kāyasthas in culture and refinement. In the interior the weavers are generally quite illiterate; but the common sense of the majority of the class must be held to be very strong. The religious teachers of the country do not usually find them quite so pliable as the Baniyas. In fact the lamentations of the Gossain about the indifference of the weavers towards religious sermons and recitations, have passed into a proverb. It is only at Dacca [ঢাকা] and Kutwa that the Gossains possess any considerable influence over the Tantis. With regard to the weavers of Kutwa a doggerel verse is recited by the other classes of people in the locality which ironically observes that the greatness of a Vaishnava cannot be exactly apprehended even by the gods, and that the Tantis of Kutwa alone can appreciate it.

The weavers of Bengal [বঙ্গ] are very industrious, thrifty and sober. The only luxuries in which they indulge are fish, curry, and a porridge of black kidney beans. They never waste one moment of their time in idle talk or amusement. Their adult males are always at their looms, while their females devote themselves to dressing and carding the yarn whenever they are not occupied with household work. The weavers do not manufacture the yarn. In former times, it was spun by old women of all the classes, including high caste Brahman ladies. But mule twist has now silenced the primeval charka, and the sound of the spinning wheel can seldom be heard now even in the remotest villages. The yarn now used by the Indian weavers is mainly imported from England, and is supplied to them by some capitalist who advances also money and food-grains to his constituents, and generally has them completely under his power. They have to give him the products of their looms at a fixed price, and he never allows them to sell a yard of their cloth to any other person. It is only where there is a competition among the capitalists that the poor weavers find a little relief.

§ 3. — The Tatwas of Behar.

The Tatwas of Behar have not the same position in the Hindu caste system that the Tantis have in Bengal [বঙ্গ]. The two names are corrupted forms of the same Sanskrit word Tantubaya, which means a weaver. But the Tatwas of Behar are in the habit of eating flesh and drinking strong liquors, and so they are regarded as an unclean caste. The existence of such clans as Chamar Tanti and Kahar Tanti among the weavers of Behar points also to the conclusion that their status was lowered partly at least by the admission of low castes among them. Besides the indigenous Tirhutia Tantis, there are in Behar many colonies of Tantis from other provinces as is indicated by the names of Kanojia, Baiswara, &c., by which they are known. The Tatwas being an unclean caste, the Brahmans do not take even a drink of water from their hands, and if a Brahman officiates as their priest he becomes very nearly a degraded person. The priestly work of the Tatwas is sometimes performed by such of their castemen as have enlisted as members of one or other of the modern Hindu sects.

§ 4. — The Kori and Koli of Northern India.

The Kori and Koli of Northern India are weavers professing the Hindu faith; but they are very low castes, and a member of any of the higher castes will not take even a drink of water from their hands.

§ 5. — The Tantis of Orissa.

The Tantis of Orissa are divided into the following-clans: —

  1. Gola Tanti—These weave fine cloth.
  2. Hans Tanti—These make coloured cloth of various patterns.
  3. Moti Bans Tanti—These weave coarse cloth from thread of English or local manufacture.

Many of Moti Bans Tantis of Orissa have of late deserted their ancestral profession, and have become teachers in village schools. The Tantis are regarded as an unclean caste in Orissa.

§ 6. — The Koshti of the Central Provinces.

The weavers of the Central Provinces are called Koshti. They are a semi-clean caste. The Mahars of the Province weave coarse cloths.

§ 7. — The Weavers of Gujrat.

There is a class of Kshettris in Gujrat whose profession is weaving. They are good Hindus. But there is not in Gujrat any caste that can be said to correspond to the Tantis of Bengal [বঙ্গ].

§ 8. — Weavers of the Dravira country.

The cotton weavers of Southern India are called Kaikalar. It is said that they are addicted to drinking spirits, and that their habits are similar to those of the aboriginal tribes. But the Sudra Yajak Brahmans minister to them as priests, and there is one class among them called Saliyar, who take the sacred thread. The silk weavers of Southern India are called Patnulkar. Ethnologically they are a superior race, and their caste status is also higher than that of the Kaikalars. According to the traditions of the Patnulkars of Southern India, their original home was Gujrat. Both the Kaikalars and Patnulkars are generally quite illiterate.

§ 9. —The Weaving Castes of Mysore.

The general name of the weaving castes of Mysore is Neyige. The following description of the several sections to whom the designation is applicable is taken from the last Census report of Mysore: —

Under the generic name of Neyige (weaving) sixteen sub-castes appear with an aggregate population of 86,986 persons in almost equal numbers for the two sexes, bearing a ratio of 1.76 per cent, to the total population. The sixteen divisions may be condensed into eight distinct sub-orders as below—

Devanga 49,006
Togata 13,300
Sale or Saliga... 10,255
Bilimagga 9,946
Seniga 105
Patvegar 3,174
Khatri 946
Saurashtrika... 254
Total 86,986

These sub-divisions do not intermarry with one another or have any social intercourse. In numerical strength the Devangas, subdivided into Kannada and Telegu Devangas, hold the first place. The former are Lingaits, but have no intercourse with the Lingait Banijiks; whereas Telegu Devangas are both Vishnuvites and Sivaites. There is no intermarriage, however, between this and the other clan.

The next in order of strength are the Togatas who are Sivite weavers, and produce the coarse kinds of cloth that are worn only by the poorer classes. Their language is Telegu.

Sales or Saligas comprise two clans, —the Padmasale and the Sakunasale. Between them there is no intermarriage. Like the Togatas, they are of Telegu origin. The former are Sivaites, while the latter are worshippers of Vishnu.

Then comes the Bilimagga sub-division, also called Kuruvina Bana-jigaru, the former term being considered a nickname. They are an indigenous caste like the Devangas, and speak Kannada.

Senigas. Though a small number, they are a wealthy caste of weavers. They are immigrants from the Lower Karnatic, and manufacture female cloths of superior kind and high value. They are Lingaits by religion, but are not friendly with the Lingait Banajigas, &c.

Patvegars are silk weavers and speak a corrupt Marathi conglomerate of the Gujrati and Hindi. They worship all the Hindu deities, especially the female energy under the name of Sakti, to which a goat is sacrificed on the night of the Dasara festival, a Mussulman slaughtering the animal. After the sacrifice, the family of the Patvegar partake of the flesh. Many of their females are naturally fair and handsome. The Khatri are also silk-weavers, and, in manners, customs and language, are akin to the Patvegars, but do not intermarry with them, although the two castes oat together. The Khatris claim to be Ksatriyas.

Saurashtrika. —The only other ingredient of the class of weavers deserving of special mention is the Saurashtrika, commonly known as the Patnuli or Jam Khanvalla. They manufacture superior kinds of cotton and woollen carpets and an imitation shawl of cotton and silk mixture, and of green colour called khes.

These people were originally immigrants from Northern India, and settled in the Madras Presidency where they are known as Patnnlis, i. e., weavers of silk and cotton. With silk they manufacture a tine stuff called Kutni, which no other weavers are said to be able to prepare. It is largely used by Mussulmans for trousers and lungas (gown). It is said that Haider Ali, while returning from bis expedition against Madras, forcibly brought with him some twenty-five families of these weavers who were living in the Tanjore district, and established them at Ganjam near Seringapatam: and in order to encourage silk and velvet weaving, exempted them from certain taxes. The industry flourished till the fall of Seringapatam, when most of the clan fled from the country, a few only having survived those troublous times. At present there are only 254 souls returned of these people, employed in making carpets in Bangalore city. They speak a dialect peculiar to themselves; it is a mixture of Maharashtra Gujrati, Kannada and Tamil; their written language is Kannada. They are Vishnuvites and wear trident marks. Their hereditary Gurus are the Srivaishnava Brahmans of the Tatachar and Bhattrachar families. In Bangalore the Smarta Brahmans act as their Purohits for conducting marriage and other ceremonies. In religious observances, they imitate the Brahmans and perform Upanayana (investiture of the sacred thread) on their boys before the tenth or twelfth year. They do not intermarry with any other class of weavers. Mysore Census Report, pp. 246-247.

Besides the above there is a caste in Mysore called Ganigar. They are sack weavers and makers of gunny bags. Some of them are agriculturists.

§ 10. — The Weavers of the Telegu country.

The weavers are called Niyata Kam in the Telegu country. The profession is practised by the following

castes: —

1. Pattasali strict vegetarians.
2. Devangala or Deyandra These eat fish, but do not indulge in intoxicating drinks.
3. Saliyar  

These are all clean castes. The Devangalas and the Saliyars are mostly Lingaits, wearing the Linga Sutra and regarding the Jangamas as their spiritual superiors. Those who are not Lingaits wear the Yajna Sutra of a twice-born Hindu.

§ 11. —The Jugis.

Besides the above there is a caste called Jugis who are weavers and who are found in many parts of India. The Jugis are Hindus, and of late years they have been claiming to have the right of taking the sacred thread; but they are generally regarded as very inferior Sudras, and in all probability they are the illegitimate and semi-legitimate descendants of the mendicants called Jogis* who, with Gorakhpur as their head-quarters, were at one time perhaps as numerous in every part of India, as the Sankarite Sanyasis and Vishnuvite Vairagis are now.

* As the Jugis in some places serve as priests to idols called Dharma Raj, it is quite possible also that they are the descendants of the ancient Buddhist monks.

The name of the caste, their usual surname of Nath, their practice of burying their dead, and the profession of lace and apron string selling practised by them point to the conclusion that they are connected with the ancient Jogis in the same way as the Ghar Bari Sanyasis and the Grihasthi Vairagis are with the true Sanyasis and Vairagis. Like the Jugis, some of the Jogi mendicants are still found engaged in the making and selling of apron strings and other things of the same kind. These are called Duri Har Jogis."

[Quelle: Bhattacharya, Jogendra Nath: Hindu castes and sects : an exposition of the origin of the Hindu caste system and the bearing of the sects towards each other and towards other religious systems. -- Calcutta : Thacker, 1896. -- S. 227 - 236]

"§ 40. Weavers (9,541,000). The people of India were wearing cotton garments in the days of Megasthenes [Μεγασθένης, c. 350 – c. 290 BC], and do so still. No wonder, therefore, that the occupation of hand-loom weaving is one of the most widely distributed in the country, and forms the traditional calling of castes containing nearly ten millions of people. In its palmy days the craft reached a wonderful pitch of skill and refinement, especially under the patronage of the Delhi [دلی] Court, which monopolised the whole of the Dacca [ঢাকা] output of “flowing-water”, “gossamer” and other choice muslins, the art of weaving which has long been lost. Even the staple everyday fabrics made far beyond the imperial ken, at the seaports of the gulf of Cambay [ખંભાત], the Malabar [മലബാര്‍] and the Coromandel [கோரமண்டல்] coasts, always found a ready market in Europe and the Levant. The weaving community seems, nevertheless, to have been anything but prosperous. Before the end of the 18th century they were reported by British officials to be “a timid and helpless” folk, and even then, were, as recent experience has proved them to be still, among the first to feel the pinch of famine, when a wide-spread failure of crops reduced or stopped the purchasing power of the peasantry. Since then their market has been seriously curtailed by the competition of European machine-made goods, and it is only in the coarser lines of material that they hold their own. The weaver is not one of the menials who is, so to speak, on the village staff; that is, he is not entitled to a customary share of the harvest, but is paid for what he makes and sells. With one or two exceptions, the weaver castes occupy a low position, considering the character and utility of their function. This is doubtless due to the fact that the latter originated amongst the pre-Āryan races, who subsequently became the helots of those to whom cotton was unknown before they exchanged the steppes of the north for the more genial temperature of sub-tropical India. The weaver, though below the peasantry, is far above the village menials who do field-labour and work in leather and other impure materials. He represents, in fact, the highest rank to which castes of that origin can attain.

Perhaps the best instance of this position is found in the Tāntī [তাঁতী] of Lower Bengal [বঙ্গ], who enjoy a rank much above that of any other weaving-caste, and even, intermarry, when sufficiently wealthy, with castes like the Kāyasths [কাযস্থ] In their case, however, there is no question of evolution from any lower Deltaic tribe. It is not known whence they came, but the country in which they are now found is not a cotton-growing tract, and the weaving industry, accordingly, was probably introduced from the north-west, the origin of the craftsmen being obscured by promiscuous recruitment, and condoned in consideration of their skill and utility.

There are other cases of weaver castes of superior position, such as the Khatrī [ਖਤ੍ਰੀ] or Paṭve of Gujarāt [ગુજરાત] and Central India, who, from the beginning dealt with no fabric but silk, and the probably kindred caste of Paṭṭunūṛkāran, in the Tamil country [தமிழ் நாடு], which found its way by devious routes and with many halts, from Mālvā [माळवा] to the south. But the mere restriction of their operations to the more valuable products is not, of itself, enough to raise the caste above its fellows in the eyes of the world, for the Tantvā [तंतवा] of Bihār [बिहार], who are silk-workers, but also breed the worm, rank far below the Tāntī [তাঁতী], who use cotton.

On the other hand, the handling of jute or hemp seems of itself to keep a caste to the bottom of the craft, as in the case of the Perike and Janappan of the Dravidian country, the Kapālī [কপালী] of Bengal [বঙ্গ], and the Dhōr of the Dekkan [dakṣiṇa].

In regard to the evolution of the weaver from the servile castes, a good instance is found in the east of the Central Provinces and the adjoining Orissa [ଓଡ଼ିଶା] hills, where the process is still going on. The Pānkā, a tribe of Kōl or Dravidian origin, with its exogamous totemistic structure, does the coarse weaving of the tract, and also cultivates, either as an occupant or a field labourer; but in many villages it is not admitted within the site, and has to dwell, like other impure menials, in a detached hamlet. In the Central Provinces the Pānkā has joined the Kabīrpanthī [कबीर पंथी] sect in considerable numbers, like the leatherworking castes of the neighbourhood, with the further inducement that the founder of the sect was himself a weaver.

The Gāndā, another weaving caste of the same region, but mostly inhabiting the plains, is closely related to the Pānkā, and, indeed, is often held to be a subdivision of the latter; but its members are now not weavers so much as cultivators, village watchmen and drummers, nor do they share the Kabīrpanthī [कबीर पंथी] views of the others.

To the south of these castes, across the hills, are the Dombā [దొమ్మరి / दोम्बा], a tribe of hill weavers, low in their habits and trade-skill. They mostly belong to the Madras [மதராஸ்] territory, but, from their name, it is possible that they may appertain to the great Dōm [دومي] tribe of the north of the Ganges, members of which are found detached in the Dekkan [dakṣiṇa] and Karnatic [ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ]. Like the Pānkā, they are classed with the lower menials of the village, and perform the same unhonoured functions.

In nearly all the other parts of India the differentiation of the artisan from the menial has been more definitely carried out. The Kōrī [कोरी], the chief Brāhmanic weaving caste of Upper India, together with the Julāhā [جولاہا] [جولاہا], the corresponding division of the Muslim, are now quite detached from the leather-working caste from which, according to the nomenclature of their subdivisions, they sprang. In the case of the Julāhā [جولاہا], the sectional affix is falling into disuse, and with it the customs with which it is associated. The Kōrī [कोरी] adhere more closely to their ancestral practices, possibly because the chances of rising in position in the Brāhmanic world are not to be compared with those offered by Islām [اسلام], as embodied in the popular saying — “Last year I was a Julāhā [جولاہا] (or Nadāf); this year, a Saikh [شیخ], and next year, if the harvest be good, I shall be a Saiad [سید]”. Both castes work chiefly in the coarser fabrics, as they have been hard hit by foreign competition in the finer class of weaving. Some of the Kōrī [कोरी] sections are of the Kabīrpanthī [कबीर पंथी] sect, but others pay their respects to both the orthodox Brāhmanic deities and to the popular Muslim saints of the locality, a practice reciprocated by the Julāhā [جولاہا], who worship Mātā Bhavānī [माता भवानी], where she holds the popular favour. The Julāhā [جولاہا] of the cities have the reputation of being a specially factious and quarrelsome body — “Eight Julāhā [جولاہا] fighting over nine hukkahs [حقہ]” — say their neighbours.

The place of the Kōrī [कोरी] is taken by the Balāhī [बलाही] in Rājputāna [राजपुतान] and Central India, a caste allied, like the rest, to the Camār [चमार], or leather-worker.

In southern India the weaver castes, though varying in rank, seem to have long acquired a higher position than in the north.

The Kaikkoḻan [கைக்கோளர்], or Tamil [தமிழ்] weavers, share, it is true, an ancestor with the Paṛaiyan [பறையர்] or menial caste, and used to be relegated with the rest of the Kammāḻa [கம்மாளர்] with whom they were classed, to a detached hamlet. By dint of clean living, however, and the employment of Brāhmans, they now occupy a respectable position.

Most of the other weavers of this part of India are of Kanarese [ಕನ್ನಡ] origin. A good many are returned simply under the general title of Neyige [ನೇಯ್ಗೆ], the Mysorean [ಮೈಸೂರು] term for weaver, and are probably, like the Sāle of various subdivisions, very largely Lingayats [ಲಿಂಗಾಯತ].

The Sāle have long been settlers to some extent in the Tamil country [தமிழ் நாடு] where they wove silk with much profit, but lost ground under the competition of the still more skilful Paṭṭunūṛkāran. In the Dekkan [dakṣiṇa] and Central Provinces they are found in different grades, according to whether they work only in white or add a border or fringe of coloured silk.

The Dēvāṅga and the Togaṭa are other sections of the Kanarese [ಕನ್ನಡ] weaving community, lower in position than the above. The Togaṭa, indeed, are not found in their native country at all, but have permanently settled in the south.

A caste of Bengal [বঙ্গ] weavers, the Jūgī [জূগী], has been mentioned in connection with the ascetic body of a similar name. Its origin is unascertained, but it is not affiliated to the leather-workers. Its low position may be partly attributed to the pretensions it has made to higher rank, thereby entailing an unusual concentration of Brāhmanic displeasure. Though suffering like its fellows from European competition, the caste till recently had stuck fairly closely to its traditional calling.

The Kōṣṭī [कोष्टी] of the Marāṭhā [मराठा] country holds, like the Kaikkoḻan [கைக்கோளர்], a middle place between the silk-weaver and those of servile origin. Brāhmans are employed in the caste ceremonies and the Kōṣṭī [कोष्टी] lives, as a rule, very like the poorer Kunbī [कुणबी]. The famines of recent years caused much distress amongst this caste, and, from their sedentary life, it was difficult to adopt means for giving them fitting relief work. They are endeavouring to evade the results of foreign competition by weaving British yarn, whereby they produce a fabric which combines fineness with the strength and durability of hand-loom work."

[Quelle: Baines, Athelstane <1847 - 1925>: Ethnography (castes and tribes) / by Athelstane Baines. With a list of the more important works on Indian ethnography by W. Siegling <1880 - 1946>. -- Strassburg : Trübner, 1912. -- 211 S. -- (Grundriss der indo-arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde = Encyclopedia of Indo-Aryan research ; II, 5). -- § 40] Schneider

6.d tunnavāyas tu saucikaḥ

तुन्नवायस्तु सौचिकः ॥६॥


  • तुन्नवाय - tunna-vāya m.
  • सौचिक - saucika m.

Colebrooke (1807): "A taylor."


Beispiele zu: Schneider. -- URL:

Abb.: Malabar Tailor and Female
[Bildquelle: Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India. -- Manuskript. -- 1837. -- -- Zugriff am 1017-04-15]

"§ 64. Artisans, a) Tailors (867,800). Throughout upper India the tailor’s craft is exercised by a composite body, nearly half of which is Muslim, recruited, judging from the titles of the subdivisions, from many sources, not all of the lowest.

In the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ]  the Darjī [درزی] is merely a functional name, and in each large city the tailoring body is governed by a craft-guild. If any caste can be said to produce the tailor more than another it is the Dhōbī [धोबी] or washerman.

In the Gangetic region the Darjī [درزی] regulates his life on the model of the upper Brāhmanic castes, and one of the principal sub-castes bears the name of Kāyasth [कायस्थ]. But the caste is not popular, any more than it used to be in Europe, and is the subject of similar depreciatory proverbs. Its work is badly paid, but the Darjī [درزی] rarely looks out for more lucrative employment. The general style of dress amongst the peasantry in the greater part of India renders the craft unnecessary, so the caste is mostly congregated in the cities. It is subdivided according to the general nature of the work undertaken, and is then split up into more minute sections. The repairer and darner is at the bottom, and amongst the Muslim, tent-making stands high, as being the occupation of Ibrahim [إبراهيم] (Abraham [אַבְרָהָם]), the patron of the craft.

Turban-making, too, is honourable. In the west, indeed, where the latter article of attire is more elaborate than in the north, and each caste has its own distinctive form of head-gear, the turban-folder is a separate community, and ranks high amongst the Darjī [درزی].

In the Dekkan [dakṣiṇa] the Śimpī is often a travelling piece-goods dealer, going from village to village with his pack upon his pony. He also traffics in small pecuniary advances, and this is perhaps the reason for his figuring in bad company in the village rhymes. One of the popular religious teachers of India, Nāmdev [नामदेव, c. 1270 – c. 1350], belonged to this caste, and several of the sections of the Darjī [درزی] and similar castes are named after him. It seems as if the Dekkan [dakṣiṇa] tailor were more allied to the lower trading classes than to the rest of his craftsmen, and certainly he follows the traditional employment less than any of them.

The Gujarāt [ગુજરાત] Darjī [درزی], too, seems to have sprung from one of the lower classes of traders of west Rājputāna [राजपुतान], to which locality he claims to belong. Like the Śimpī, he lives after the manner of the upper middle classes, and is strict in his religious observances, though alleged to be addicted, like the goldsmith, to helping himself too freely to some of the material entrusted to him to make up.

In the Dravidian districts there is no special caste of this sort, the tailors in the cities being all Muslim. The introduction of sewing-machines, and the growth of the fashion of wearing cut-out garments have tended to the advantage of the town Darjī [درزی], and even in villages the machine is often to be seen enstalled amid surroundings of apparently the most incongruous simplicity."

[Quelle: Baines, Athelstane <1847 - 1925>: Ethnography (castes and tribes) / by Athelstane Baines. With a list of the more important works on Indian ethnography by W. Siegling <1880 - 1946>. -- Strassburg : Trübner, 1912. -- 211 S. -- (Grundriss der indo-arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde = Encyclopedia of Indo-Aryan research ; II, 5). -- § 64] Maler

7.a. raṅgājīvaś citrakaraḥ

रङ्गाजीवश्चित्रकरः शस्त्रमार्जो ऽसि धावकः ।७।


  • रङ्गाजीव - raṅgājīva m. - von Farbe lebend
  • चित्रकर - citra-kara m. - Gemälde-Macher

Colebrooke (1807): "A painter"


Beispiele zu: Maler. -- URL: Schwertfeger

7.b śastramārjo 'si-dhāvakaḥ

शस्त्रमार्जो ऽसिधावकः ।७।


  • śastra-mārja m. - Schwert-Reiniger
  • asi-dhāvaka m. - Schwert-Reiniger

Colebrooke (1807): "An armourer."

"§ 72. Knife-Grinders etc. (37,000). There are a few small castes which may be fairly termed travelling artisans rather than gipsies, since there is no stigma attached to them personally nor is their calling held to be a mere cover for criminal means of gain.

The  Saiqalgar [صیقلگر], or Śiklīgār, for example, is a Muslim caste which travels throughout the open season grinding knives and scissors, and at other times plies in the cities. A subdivision undertakes the care of razors. In old times the  Saiqalgar [صیقلگر] was the armourer and polisher of weapons, but he is now in sadly reduced circumstances.

The Ghisāḍī is a small Brāhmanic caste of the Dekkan [dakṣiṇa], corresponding to the  Saiqalgar [صیقلگر] but of lower origin, probably from Gujarāt [ગુજરાત]. 

The Khūmrā is another small Muslim caste of upper India the function of which is to quarry and sell the querns or millstones for domestic use. They are hewn at the quarry and hawked about on pack-animals.

The roughening of the face of the stone after it has been in use a long time is in Central India and the Dekkan [dakṣiṇa], the work of another caste, the Tākārī or Tākankar, Brāhmanist by faith and nomad by habit.

The Khūmrā’s conduct is above reproach, but the Tākārī is said to utilise the time he spends squatting on the premises where he is employed in scrutinising the extent and disposition of the moveable property of the household, with a view to a further visit by night, for its removal. The caste is affiliated to the great tribe of wandering hunters, called Bāvarī or Vāghrī [باگڙي], to be mentioned later, and seems to have entered the Dekkan [dakṣiṇa] from Gujarāt [ગુજરાત] or Central India, as its members keep aloof from the Pārdhī [पारधी], or hunting tribes of the south, and speak a dialect resembling Gujarātī [ગુજરાતી]."

[Quelle: Baines, Athelstane <1847 - 1925>: Ethnography (castes and tribes) / by Athelstane Baines. With a list of the more important works on Indian ethnography by W. Siegling <1880 - 1946>. -- Strassburg : Trübner, 1912. -- 211 S. -- (Grundriss der indo-arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde = Encyclopedia of Indo-Aryan research ; II, 5). -- § 72] Schuster

7.c pādakṛc carmakāraḥ syād

पादकृच्चर्मकारः स्याद् ॥७॥


  • पादकृत् - pāda-kṛt m. - Fuß-Macher
  • चर्मकार - carma-kāra m. - Leder-Bearbeiter

Colebrooke (1807): "A shoemaker"


Beispiele zu: Schuster. -- URL:

Beispiel zu: Chamār(चमार / சாமர்). -- URL:

Abb.: Cobbler (Malabar) and Female
[Bildquelle: Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India. -- Manuskript. -- 1837. -- -- Zugriff am 1017-04-15]


§ 1. —The Chamars and Muchis of Northern India,

The Chamars and Muchis are generally regarded as identical in caste. The name Chamar is derived from the Sanskrit word Charmakar, which means “a maker of leather.” The meaning of the name Muchi is not very clear. The suggestion that the name is connected with the Sanskrit word Matsya is contradicted by the fact that the Muchis have nothing to do with the catching of fish. The Chamar population of Northern India is very large, and exceeds eleven million persons as will appear from the following table: —

N. -W. Provinces ... 5,855,208
Punjab ... 1,206,837
Bengal [বঙ্গ] ... 1,101,253
Central India ... 888,018
Central Provinces ... 880,108
Rajputana [राजपुताना] ... 846,675

The Muchis are less numerous and number about one million persons. They are distributed as shewn below: —

Bengal [বঙ্গ]    ...     ...     ...     406,333
Punjab    ..     ...     ...      407,634
Bombay [मुंबई]    ...     ...     ...     63,051

The Chamars and the Muchis have a variety of occupations. Primarily, they are skinners, tanners, shoemakers, and musical instrument makers. They practise also the weaving of coarse cotton cloths and mats of reed. In Northern India, the Chamars serve for hire as agricultural labourers and workers, In Bengal [বঙ্গ] they generally supply the bands of instrumental musicians who are a necessity to every Hindu at the time of religious ceremonies of a joyful nature. After the Sepoy Mutiny an attempt was made to recruit the native army from the ranks of the Chamars instead of from the higher castes like the Brahmans and Rajputs. But the experiment did not, it is said, prove successful.

The Chamars and Muchis are very unclean castes. Their very touch renders it necessary for a good Hindu to bathe with all his clothes on. In the villages they generally live in a distinct quarter. When their services are required by a high caste Hindu, he will allow them to enter the outer enclosure of his house, but not into the interior of any building used as a dwelling-house or chapel. For the Muchi and Mahomedan musicians who are a necessity on festive occasion's, there is generally special accommodation in the mansions of the rich and in the big temples. Those who play on the kettledrum and the pipe called sanai, and who are generally Mahomedans, are perched on the top of the main entrance, while the Muchi bands entertain the bye-standers from the Nat-Mandir or dancing hall in front of the puja dalan or chapel.

§ 2. — The Chakilians and Madigs of Southern India.

The professions and caste status of the Chakilians and Madigs are the same as those of the Muchis and Chamars of Northern India. The Chakilians number 445,366 persons. The Madig population is nearly double that of the Chakilians. With regard to the Madigs, the following observations are made in the last Census Report of Mysore: —

The Madig is the village cobbler; he removes the carcases of the village cattle, skins them, and is bound to supply the village community with agricultural articles made of skin or leather, such as thongs of the bullocks, buckets for lifting water, &c. The Madig caste is 239, 575 strong. The Madigs are by religion Vishnuvites, Sivitcs and Saktas. The caste is divided into two independent sub-divisions, the Desbhaga and Others, between whom there is no intermarriage. The former acknowledge the Sri Vaishnava Brahmans as their Gurus, to whom they pay extraordinary homage on all ceremonial occasions. The Madigs in the province are decidedly an indigenous class. They are mostly field labourers, but some of them till land, either leased or their own. In urban localities, on account of the rise in the value of skins, the Madigs have attained to considerable affluence. —Mysore Census Report for 1891, pp. 254-55.

§ 3. — The Leather-working Castes of Rajputana [राजपुताना] and Central India.

Besides the Chamars and Much is there are some other leather-working classes in Rajputana [राजपुताना] having the following names:—

  1. Bambi.
  2. Jatia.
  3. Sargara.

In Bikanir the Chamars are called Balai. The Bambis are workers in leather, weavers, and village servants, and receive the skins of all unclaimed dead animals. The Jatias, like the Muchis of Bengal [বঙ্গ], eat the flesh of dead animals. The Sargaras are cultivators and drum-beaters. The worship of the snake goddess Manasha is considered by the Muchis in some parts of the country as their speciality. Some Muchis regularly beg from door to door with an image or emblem of either the snake goddess or of the small-pox goddess. A Muchi of Bikanir who lived in the early part of the present century, founded a religious sect."

[Quelle: Bhattacharya, Jogendra Nath: Hindu castes and sects : an exposition of the origin of the Hindu caste system and the bearing of the sects towards each other and towards other religious systems. -- Calcutta : Thacker, 1896. -- S. 266 - 268]
"§ 50. Leather-workers (15,028,300). This group, as was stated above, cannot be well distinguished from that which precedes it. It is the function of all the impure castes to deal with dead cattle, even if it be only to skin and to drag the carcasses away for burial. But there are grades and privileges involved. Some touch no bodies but those of the cloven-footed animal; others draw the line at cattle, and leave sheep and goats to their inferiors. Usually the hide is the perquisite of the menial, who, moreover, is not forbidden to indulge in the flesh after flaying. Indeed, when the market for leather is brisk, or when dissension is rife between the peasantry and the village menials, mortality amongst the cattle is apt to increase materially, and sometimes with a suddenness which attracts the judicial attention of the local authorities, and leads to the discovery in the thatch of the servile hamlet of the materials for an extensive study of rural toxicology. But though the castes in question remove the hides, it is only special sections of them which tan or curry them, and these, except in the north, are generally split off into a separate caste. Furthermore, the families which take exclusively to leather-work as their profession beyond the simple requirements of the cart, plough or water-lift, usually rise to a position superior to that of the tanner or currier, and ultimately, especially in towns, hold themselves aloof from the rest. On the other hand, where the caste furnishes virtually the whole labour supply of the village, the tanning branch sinks below those which only labour in the fields. In the latter capacity, the caste has to do whatever they are bid by the peasantry — within, of course, the strict bounds of tradition. They may never, however, take up their residence in the village or pass anything directly from their own hand to that of one of higher caste. It is a noteworthy fact that with centuries of such degradation piled upon them, the women of this class should be renowned for their good looks; so much so, that special arrangements seem to have been thought necessary by the Brāhmanic organisers of society to meet the results of intrigues and illicit connections between them and men of the upper classes. To this day men turned out of their caste on this account find refuge in some recognised mixed body, whilst the offspring of such mésalliances go to form the “fair-skinned Camār”, the subject of more than one proverbial admonition on the country side. There is the possibility, of course, that in the very north of India some of the helot classes may be descended from early foreign races who were overwhelmed by subsequent invaders and reduced to servitude, but throughout the rest of the country these classes are now generally held to represent the Dasyu or darker tribes, displaced by the Ārya and Scythian invader north of the Vindhya [विन्‍ध्य], and by similar movements amongst Dravidian races and others, in the south and the great delta of the east.

Abb.: Tanner
[Bildquelle: Tashrih al-aqvam, an account of origins and occupations of some of the sects, castes and tribes of India, 1825 / British Library]

Abb.: Leather-bottle makers. (Presumably members of the ‘Chamaar’
[चमार / ਚਮਾਰ] caste).
[Bildquelle: Tashrih al-aqvam, an account of origins and occupations of some of the sects, castes and tribes of India, 1825 / British Library. --  -- Zugriff am 2017-06-01]

The great Camār [चमार / ਚਮਾਰ] caste is found all over the country except in the south, but in the tract where it is most numerous, between the east Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ ] and Bihār [बिहार], it is not exclusively a leather-working caste as its name denotes. It supplies, as just pointed out, the main body of field labour, and receives its share of the harvest like the other village menials on the establishment. In this capacity, the Camār [चमार / ਚਮਾਰ] community is generally organised into distinct sections, irrespective of social subdivisions. Some work for individual patrons, but more often each is assigned to a certain association of landholders. The development of the leather industries upon European lines in some of the large towns of the north, such as Cawnpore [कानपुर] and Agra [आगरा], has attracted a large number of Camār [चमार] away from their native haunts. Indeed, the demand for labourers along the railways and in the chief commercial centres of upper India is said to have had the effect of depleting to a considerable extent the supply available for the village field operations, and the Camār [चमार / ਚਮਾਰ] , like the Dhēd of Gujarāt [ગુજરાત ], leaves home when he pleases, and returns with a full pocket and something of a “swelled head”. In parts of Rājputāna [राजपुतान] and the southern Panjāb  [ਪੰਜਾਬ ], the Camār [चमार / ਚਮਾਰ]  does the coarse weaving undertaken further east by the Kōrī [कोरी]. The caste is subdivided minutely by function, locality and traditions as to origin, into endless endogamous sections, in a recognised order of precedence, and all under the regulation of a caste-Council which is said to be strict in its enforcement of ceremonial rules. In the central and eastern Panjāb  [ਪੰਜਾਬ ] a good many of the Camār [ਚਮਾਰ] are Sikhs [ਸਿੱਖ] by religion, though of course they occupy a position different from that of the Jāṭ [जाट]. Comparatively few seem, from the Census, to have embraced Islām, but this is due to the use of the title of Mōcī by converts, especially in the west of the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ ], where they are nearly all Muslim.

In other parts of India, the Mōcī is the subdivision, generally entirely distinct, which is engaged in shoemaking, usually in the larger towns. Even in the west Panjāb  [ਪੰਜਾਬ ] the Camār [ਚਮਾਰ] or Mōcī do not perform the same duties in the village as the Camār [चमार] of the east, but only do the leather-work and tanning, thereby taking a higher position than their agricultural fellow.

The Camār [चमार] of other Provinces is a Brāhmanist in his faith, of much the same order as the lower masses of the population of the locality. In some parts he gets Brāhmans of a low grade to serve him, but, as a rule, they are only called in to nominate the most auspicious day for important domestic ceremonies. By reason of the connection of the caste with the exuviae of dead cattle, the Camār [चमार] is held to be lower in rank than even the Brāhmanised section of a converted forest tribe which has abandoned the cruder elements of its daily diet. It does not appear, however, that this was always the case, as leather entered into the clothing of the early Vedic communities long before they could have reduced the Dasyu to servitude, so that the task of tanning and preparation must have been performed by members of their own race. The degrading character of the occupation, therefore, may have been imputed to it by the Brāhmanic censors of the new régime when it was established upon priestly initiative at a later date.

In the lower Himālayan valleys of the Panjāb  [ਪੰਜਾਬ ] there is the Mēgh [ميگھواڙ] caste, who perform much the same duties as the Camār [ਚਮਾਰ] of the plains, but are rather higher in social esteem because they are largely weavers, and leave the dirtier offices of the village to lower castes, such as the Kōlī [कोली] and Dāgī. The latter do the leather work in some parts, but elsewhere they put it on to the Kōlī [कोली] or Canāl. All are of about the same class as the Camār [ਚਮਾਰ], some even being subdivided under that title, and represent the earlier tribes of the locality, reduced to servitude by the later comers from the south or west. They resemble the lowest castes of the plains, too, in acting as pipers and drummers at village processions.

South and west of the Vindhya [विन्‍ध्य], the caste is still known by the names of Cāmbhār [चांभार], or Khālpō, but is quite unconnected with the northern communities of the former name. The leather work, too, is detached, more or less, from the menial offices, and is not intimately bound up with the village staff.

In the Dekkan [dakṣiṇa] and Telugu [తెలుగు] country, the Camār gives place to the Māṅg [मांग] or Mādiga, both of which names are apparently derived from Mātaṅgī [मातंगी], the caste goddess, a synonym of Kālī [काली]. The Mādiga takes a prominent part in the festivals of the Śakti worshippers, probably of Dravidian origin incorporated into the Brāhmanic pantheon as circumstances demanded. From this as well as from the part it plays in the marriage ceremonies of some of the higher castes, it may be inferred that the caste is one of the earliest of the uplands, and thus more likely to propitiate the local gods than the more reputable but more recent arrivals now in occupation. Both Māṅg [मांग] and Mādiga employ their own priests, Gāruḍa or Dāsari. Where the Māṅg [मांग] is found alongside of the Mahār [महार] in the Dekkan [dakṣiṇa] there is always rivalry and occasionally strife, but the Mahār [महार] takes precedence of the other in the village.

In the Tamil country [தமிழ் நாடு] the principal leather-working caste is the Śakkiliyan [சக்கிலியர்], vulgarised by Europeans into Chuckler. It is an immigrant body, as several of its subdivisions bear Telugu [తెలుగు] or Kanarese [ಕನ್ನಡ] titles, and many of its members still use those vernaculars. It may be added, too, that its name does not occur in any of the older inscriptions in Tamil [தமிழ்]. It is probably, therefore, an offshoot of the Mādiga, moved south, importing with it its traditional rivalry with the village serf, for there is constant bickering between the Śakkiliyan [சக்கிலியர்] and the Paṛaiyan [பறையர்], public opinion being in favour of the labourer, as in the Dekkan [dakṣiṇa]. It may also be noted that the leather-workers are here, as in the north, remarkable for the beauty of their women, and in those stages of Śakti worship at which the presence of a living representative of the Female Energy is necessary, a Śakkiliyan [சக்கிலியர்] girl is always selected for the part.

It is only the simpler leather work, as was mentioned above, that is done by the village Camār [चमार], and though he can cobble shoes, he does not generally make any but the roughest kinds. The Mōcī takes up the higher branches of the craft, but in Bengal [বঙ্গ], as in the west Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ] , this caste does a good deal of the village labour, and in the former tract his shoes are said to be inferior to those of the Camār [चमार] of Bihār [बिहार].

In Rājputāna [राजपुतान] the Bāmbhī seems to be the shoemaking branch of the latter, and in 1891 some 207,000 of them were returned, but as in 1901 they were reduced to 1100, it is probable that the rest are included in the main Camār [चमार] caste.

In several parts of India, the Mōcī of the towns are divided into functional sub-castes, such as that of saddlers, embroiderers of saddle-cloths, makers of leather buckets for ghī (clarified butter), of spangles, shields and scabbards, rising in rank as their calling entails greater skill or more costly materials, always tending towards endogamy within the craft."

[Quelle: Baines, Athelstane <1847 - 1925>: Ethnography (castes and tribes) / by Athelstane Baines. With a list of the more important works on Indian ethnography by W. Siegling <1880 - 1946>. -- Strassburg : Trübner, 1912. -- 211 S. -- (Grundriss der indo-arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde = Encyclopedia of Indo-Aryan research ; II, 5). -- § 50] Grobschmied

7.d vyokāro lohakārakaḥ

व्योकारो लोहकारकः


  • व्योकार - vyo-kāra m. - Glühend-Macher
  • लोहकारक - loha-kāraka m. - Eisen-Macher / Eisen-Bearbeiter

Colebrooke (1807): "An ironsmith." "Some separate the terms as severally signifying a founder and a smith."


Beispiele zu: Grobschmied. -- URL:


The Hindu ironsmith is called Karmakar in Bengal, and Lohar in all the other Provinces of Northern India, including Behar and Chutia Nagpur. The Kamars are in Bengal [বঙ্গ] included among the upper nine of the Sudra castes. In Behar the corresponding caste of Lohars have the same position, and there also a Brahman will take a drink of water from the hands of an ironsmith without any hesitation, it is only the Lohars of Chutia Nagpur and Central Provinces who are regarded as an unclean caste. That is, however, not on account of their profession, but their practice of eating fowls.

The Kamars of Bengal [বঙ্গ] are unacquainted with iron smelting, and now-a-days they generally work on pig-iron imported from Europe, and sold by the wholesale dealers of Calcutta. The import of hardware from Europe has led to the absolute neglect of the excellent sources of iron ores which are to be found in many parts of India, and especially in the western districts of Bengal [বঙ্গ] and in Mysore. Iron smelting is, however, still practised to some extent in the Central Provinces and Chutia Nagpur by the local Lohars. *

* For an account of the indigenous process of iron smelting, see Mr. P. X. Bose's Hindu Civilisation, Vol. II, p. 308.

In every village throughout India there is generally a Kamar or Lohar, whose function is to manufacture and repair the agricultural implements of the local people.

In the vicinity of the large towns, Kamars and Lohars are generally to be found who display great skill in the manufacture of cutlery, padlocks, swords, nails, hooks, &c. The name of Prem Chand Kamar, of Kanchan Nagar in Burdwan, is on the way towards becoming almost as famous in connection with cutlery as that of Rogers of Sheffield. The padlocks made by Das & Co. bid fair to supersede those of Chubb, and in respect of the manufacture of swords, the superiority of the Indian Kamar’s work has been proved, over and over again, by the experiences of English soldiers in the field. *

* See the remarks of Mr. Forbes-Mitchell in his Reminiscences of the Indian Mutiny.

If in spite of their skill the Indian Kamars are not able to hold their own in the local markets, their failure is not to be attributed to any fault on their part. The products of a domestic industry must necessarily be more costly than machine-made wares. Then, again, the outturn of the small manufactories to be found in the remote villages cannot be so easily collected together in a commercial focus for distribution, and exchange, as the produce of large foundries. The result of these causes is very strikingly illustrated by the fact that while the worthless padlocks turned out by the factories in Birmingham are to be had in every hardware shop in India, and sell in millions, the Kamaria padlocks of the ancient types, which are considered by all to be the best and safest mechanisms of the kind, cannot generally be had either for love or money, and can be procured only by special order to some workmen whose very names are generally unknown, —the advantages of the modern art of advertisement being as yet quite unknown to them.

Circumstanced as India now is, the revival and improvement of the iron industry of the country seems to be well-nigh beyond the bounds of immediate possibility. It is only the patronage of the railways that can render large foundries pecuniarily successful. But the Indian railways are all practically in the bands of the Indian Government, and knowing well how our rulers are handicapped by the party politics of the Home Government, no reasonable man can expect them to deny their patronage to the English manufacturers for the sake of benefiting an Indian industry.

The village Kamars and Lohars are generally very poor, their income very seldom exceeding that of an unskilled labourer. In the docks and railway workshops which have lately come into existence in certain parts of the country, the Kamars and Lohars not only find employment readily, but generally earn very high wages. The most well-to-do persons among the Kamars are those who have given up their caste profession, and practise the art of the goldsmith.

The Kamars are generally Sakti worshippers, and are usually employed in slaughtering the animals offered in sacrifice to the bloodthirsty gods and goddesses that receive the adoration of the “ energy worshippers. ” For his services, on such occasions, the Kamar receives the head of the slaughtered goat, or a money gratuity, amounting to about half a shilling. The rich goldsmith Kamars of Dacca [ঢাকা] are mainly Vishnuvites.

In Southern India there is a caste called variously Kammallars, Panchanam Varlu and Panchval, who combine in them the functions of the goldsmith, coppersmith, brazier, ironsmith, carpenter and sculptor. The Kamars and Lohars are generally quite illiterate. Their total number is, according to the last Census, 2,625,103 souls."

[Quelle: Bhattacharya, Jogendra Nath: Hindu castes and sects : an exposition of the origin of the Hindu caste system and the bearing of the sects towards each other and towards other religious systems. -- Calcutta : Thacker, 1896. -- S. 241 - 243] Goldschmied

8.a nāḍindhamaḥ svarṇakāraḥ

नाडिन्धमः स्वर्णकारः कलादो रुक्मकारके ।८।


  • नाडिन्धम - nāḍin-dhama m.: durch eine Röhre blasend
  • स्वर्णकार - svarṇa-kāra m.: Gold-Bearbeiter

Colebrooke (1807): "A goldsmith."


Beispiele zu: Goldschmied. -- URL:

Abb.: Malabar Goldsmith and Female
[Bildquelle: Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India. -- Manuskript. -- 1837. -- -- Zugriff am 1017-04-15]


§ 1. — The Sonar and Shakra of Northern India.

The position of the goldsmith in the Hindu caste system is not the same in all the provinces. Not being expressly included in the Navasayaka group, he is, in Northern India, generally regarded as somewhat unclean. But it is suggested that he comes within the division called Karmakar, and the best Brahmans will not sometimes hesitate to take a drink of water from his hands. The position of the Sonar in Behar, N.-W. Provinces and Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ] is similar to that of the Shakra or Swarnakara of Bengal [বঙ্গ]. In the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ], the Hindu Sonars take the sacred thread, just as most of the other Sudra castes there do. In the extreme south of the Indian Peninsula, the goldsmiths do not form a separate caste, but are included in the group called Kammallar, whose sub-sections practise five different kinds of handicraft, viz., work

  1.  in gold and silver,
  2. brass and copper,
  3. iron, (4) carpentry,
  4. sculpture.

The corresponding group of castes in Mysore is called Panchvala. The goldsmith sections in Mysore are called Akkasala or (Arkasala) Agasala. The Agasalas are recognised by the other Panchsalars as the head of the clan. In Telingana there is a similar group of castes called Panchanam Varlu, an account of which is given in § 2 of this chapter. In the Central Provinces there are two classes of goldsmiths called Sonar and Panchallar. They take the sacred thread at the time of marriage, 

and are regarded as clean castes. The goldsmiths are a very intelligent class—perhaps a little too sharp. They usually practise their hereditary profession, and, as it is very lucrative, they very seldom give a liberal education to their children in order to qualify them for a more ambitious career.

§ 2. — The Panchanam Varlu of the Telegu country and the Kammallar of Dravira.

It has been already stated that the artisan castes working on metal, wood or stone are called Panchanam Varlu in the Telegu country, Panckval in Mysore and Kammallar in Dravira. The Panchanams of Telingana trace their origin from the five faces of the god Siva. They take the sacred thread and claim to have a higher status than the priestly Brahmans. But the other castes regard them as very unclean. In fact, not even a Paria will take a drink of water from the hands of a Panchanam. Formerly the Panchanams were not allowed to wear shoes, or to carry umbrellas with them, or to ride in a palki even at the time of marriage. They have four subcastes, with five different occupations as stated below: —

  1. The profession of the goldsmith is practised by the Kansali.
  2. That of the blacksmith by the Kamari.
  3. That of carpenter by the Wadronga.
  4. That of brazier by the Kanshari.
  5. That of sculptor by all the above-mentioned castes.

The Kansalis, or the goldsmiths, have generally a little education, but the others are usually quite illiterate. The Kammallars of Dravira have the same divisions among them, but perhaps a higher status than the Panchanams of the Telegu country. The corresponding group of castes in Mysore is, as already stated, called Panchval. They profess to be descended from the celestial architect Visvakarma and wear the Brahmanical triple cord. They claim to be equal to the Brahmans, but their pretensions are not admitted by any one not of their caste."

[Quelle: Bhattacharya, Jogendra Nath: Hindu castes and sects : an exposition of the origin of the Hindu caste system and the bearing of the sects towards each other and towards other religious systems. -- Calcutta : Thacker, 1896. -- S. 244f.] Goldschmuck-Macher

8.b  kalādo rukmakārake

कलादो रुक्मकारके ।८।


  • kalāda m. - Kunst-Geber
  • rukma-kāraka m. - Goldschmuck-Macher

Colebrooke (1807): fasst es mit 8.a zusammen als "goldsmith"


Beispiele zu: Goldschmied. -- URL: Schnecken-und-Muschel-Bearbeiter

8.c syāc chāṅkhikaḥ kāmbavikaḥ

स्याच्छाङ्खिकः काम्बविकः

Schneckenbearbeiter (Muschelbearbeiter):

  • शाङ्खिक - śāṇkhika m. - Schneckenbearbeiter
  • काम्बविक - kāmbavika m. - Muschelbearbeiter

Colebrooke (1807): "A shell cuttler."


The designation Sankha Banik literally signifies a "conch shell merchant." The Sankha Baniks are popularly called Sankaris. Their chief business is the manufacture of the shell bracelets which the poorer Hindu women of East Bengal [বঙ্গ] wear for ornamental purposes, and which even the richest Hindu ladies have to wear at the time of their marriage and certain other auspicious occasions. The Sankaris make also those shell bugles which the Hindu warriors of ancient times used on the battle-field, and which are now used only in connection with religious ceremonies. The caste position of the Sankaris is exactly the same as that of the Gandha Baniks and Kansa Baniks. The Sankaris are to be found in only a few of the large towns of Bengal [বঙ্গ]. Their numerical strength is very small, and, generally speaking, they are very poor, and quite illiterate. The profession of the Sankha Banik was never a very lucrative one, and it has of late been injuriously affected by the introduction of glass bracelets which are now in fashion among all classes of Indian women. The glass bracelets are very cheap, and they do not lose their lustre by use like the shell ornaments."

[Quelle: Bhattacharya, Jogendra Nath: Hindu castes and sects : an exposition of the origin of the Hindu caste system and the bearing of the sects towards each other and towards other religious systems. -- Calcutta : Thacker, 1896. -- S. 250] Kupferschmied

8.d śaulbikas tāmrakuṭṭakaḥ

शौल्बिकस्ताम्रकुट्टकः ॥८॥


  • शौल्बिक - śaulbika m. (zu śulba n. - Schnur)
  • ताम्रकुट्टक tāmra-kuṭṭaka m. Kupfer-Schläger

Colebrooke (1807): "A coppersmith."


Beispiele zu: Kupferschmied. -- URL:


§ 1. — The Kansa Baniks of Bengal [বঙ্গ].

The Kansa Baniks or Kansaris of Bengal [বঙ্গ] are both manufacturers and sellers of brass, copper and bronze vessels. In the other provinces of Northern India, the corresponding castes are called Kasera, Thathera and Tamhera. The caste status of the Kansa Baniks is exactly similar to that of the Gandha Baniks. The ordinary Sudra Yajaka Brahmans minister to both as priests, and even the best Brahmans will take a drink of water from their hands. Many good Brahmans accept even the Kansaris’ gifts openly and without any hesitation. The Kansaris are a well-to-do class, and there are among them a few who are reckoned among the richest men of the country. Such is Babu Kali Krishna Pramanik of Calcutta, and such was the late Babu Guru Das Das of Nadiya. The late Babu Tarak Nath Pramanik, the father of the former, used to spend enormous sums of money every year in charity to the poor, and in the performance of religious ceremonies. But so vast were his resources, that the prosperity of his family continues undiminished to the present day; while the family of Guru Das has been ruined by similar extravagance, combined with injudicious speculations and the bad counsel of his legal advisers.

The total Kansari population of Bengal [বঙ্গ] is, according to the last Census, 55,833 souls in all. There are several sub-classes among them, of which the most important are the Saptagrami and Mohmadabadi.

The usual surnames of the Kansaris are

  • Das,
  • Pramanik and
  • Pal.

Generally speaking, the Kansaris are an illiterate class, though some of them are able to keep their own accounts. Kansari boys are sometimes found in the English schools of the country. But they never make much progress. Most of the Kansaris are Devi worshippers and eat flesh meat. Like the Kamars, the Kansaris are sometimes employed to slaughter animals for sacrificial purposes.

§ 2. — The Kasaras and Thatheras of Northern India.

The Kasaras and Thatheras of Northern India have, generally speaking, the same characteristics and social status as the Kansaris of Bengal [বঙ্গ]. Some of the Kasaras of Behar worship the Mahomedan saints called Panch Piriya.

§ 3. — The Gejjegora and Kanchugora of Southern India.

The Gejjegoras are the makers of the small bells worn by dancing women round their ankles. The Kanchugoras are also called Bogaras. They are the braziers and coppersmiths."

[Quelle: Bhattacharya, Jogendra Nath: Hindu castes and sects : an exposition of the origin of the Hindu caste system and the bearing of the sects towards each other and towards other religious systems. -- Calcutta : Thacker, 1896. -- S. 248f.] Zimmermann

9.a/b takṣā tu vardhakis tvaṣṭā rathakāraś ca kāṣṭhataṭ

तक्षा तु वर्धकिस्त्वष्टा रथकारश्च काष्ठतट् ।९।


  • तक्षन् - takṣan m. - Zimmermann
  • वर्धकिन् - vardhakin m. - Zimmermann
  • त्वष्टृ - tvaṣṭṛ m. - Zimmermann
  • रथकार - ratha-kāra m. - Wagen-Macher
  • काष्ठतक्ष् - kāṣṭha-takṣ m. - Holz-Behauer

Colebrooke (1807): "A carpenter"


Beispiele zu: Zimmermann. -- URL:


In Bengal [বঙ্গ] and Western India the carpenters are called Sutra Dhar or Sutar, from the Sanskrit word Sutra, the thread, with which the course of the saw is marked. Though their profession is a clean one, they, like the Sonars, are regarded as a semi-clean caste. Good Brahmans do not usually take drinking water from their hands, and they are ministered by a special class of Brahmans who are treated as degraded persons, and whose status is inferior to that of even the Sudra Yajakas. Some of the Sutars of Bengal [বঙ্গ] practise the art of painting pictures of the Hindu gods. The female members of some of the Sutars make an article of food for the middle classes called chipitaka or dura. It is prepared by boiling unhusked rice, and husking it, while yet slightly soft, by placing it in a wooden mortar, and beating it with a wooden hammer attached to the end of a beam which is worked like a lever. While the motive power is supplied by the foot of one of the females engaged in the manufacture, another female feeds the mortar, and takes out from it the flattened grains mixed with the loose husk which is afterwards winnowed off. The chira, when it is first brought out of the mortar, is very sweet. But generally it is eaten long afterwards when it is completely dry. When soaked in milk and mango juice, and mixed with sugar and plantain, it becomes a highly enjoyable delicacy. The making of chira is not the monopoly of the Sutars. There is another caste called Ganrariva whose females take a considerable share in the business. The Sutar population of India is, according to the last Census, as stated below: —

Bengal [বঙ্গ] ... ... ... 175,554
Bombay [मुंबई] ... ... ... 196,246

India ... ... ... 127,776
Hyderabad ... ... ... 103,419

The Barhis have a somewhat higher status than the Sutars. Good Brahmans will take drinking water from their hands, and those who officiate as their priests are not degraded altogether. The Barhi population of India is nearly one million, and is distributed as stated below: —

N.-W. Provinces ... ... ...  568,630
Bengal [বঙ্গ] ...  ...  ...  293,553
Central Provinces ...  ...  ...  69,833

The Badigas of Northern Deccan seem to he the same as the Barhis. But they were separately enumerated at the last Census, and their population is stated to be as follows: —

Madras ... ...  ... 376,434
Bombay [मुंबई] ...  ...  ...  65,916
Mysore ...  ...  ...  9,408

The Tarkhans of the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ] and the Khatis of Rajputana [राजपुताना] are also carpenters by caste.    The total population of the carpenter castes in India exceeds three millions, and yet the demand for their services at present is such that they get very high wages in every part of the country. While a weaver can hardly earn two annas in a day, and an agricultural labourer gets not more than three annas, —the average daily income of a carpenter does not fall short of ten annas. Such being the case, many Mahomedans and low caste Hindus are now taking to the profession.

The carpenters of Bombay [मुंबई] are, like those of Bengal [বঙ্গ], called Sutar. In Western India the Sutars are regarded as a clean caste, and have many educated men among them. The late Dr. Sakharam Arjoon, who had the largest medical practice in his time, was a Sutar. The Sutars of Bengal [বঙ্গ] are generally quite illiterate."

[Quelle: Bhattacharya, Jogendra Nath: Hindu castes and sects : an exposition of the origin of the Hindu caste system and the bearing of the sects towards each other and towards other religious systems. -- Calcutta : Thacker, 1896. -- S. 246f.]
"c) Carpenters (2,688,100) and d) Blacksmiths (2,362,300). It is the Lōhār [लोहार] and Baṛhaī [बढ़ई], who refer themselves back to Viśvakarman, and who have a joint sub-caste called Ōjhā [ओझा] claiming to be Brāhmans, not apparently without a certain degree of recognition, though not to the full extent of their desire.

In the west, the Sutār [सुथार], or carpenter, throws back to the Gūjar [गूजर] or Vaniā [वनिया], and in the Dekkan [dakṣiṇa], to the inevitable Viśvakarman.

The Lōhār [लोहार] seems everywhere constant to the latter. There seems to be a general tendency to make these two functions interchangeable even though the castes remain distinct.

In the Marāṭhā [मराठा] districts, both above and below the Sahyādri [सह्याद्रि], the Sutār [सुथार] does the village ironwork, consisting mainly of simple repairs such as re-tyring cart-wheels or re-shoeing the plough and so on. In the western Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ]  it is the same.

Abb.: Khati or Tarkhan, carpenter caste of the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ]. Man sawing a plank.
[Bildquelle: Tashrih al-aqvam, an account of origins and occupations of some of the sects, castes and tribes of India, 1825 / British Library. -- . -- Zugriff am 2017-06-01]

In the east of that Province, the Tarkhāṇ and the Lōhār [लोहार] are the same caste by origin, but the carpenter stands higher, and when both occupations are followed, sub-sections are formed which do not eat together or intermarry.

There is also a body of Lōhār [लोहार] in the south, along the Rājputāna [राजपुतान] border, consisting of Rājputs [राजपूत] who, from stress of circumstances, probably famine, were driven to adopt this means of getting their living, and though called Lōhār [लोहार], are apart from and above the rest.

The Khātī [खाती], again, is both carpenter and blacksmith in some parts of the north, ranking with the former, but along the Jamnā [यमुना] the caste is wheelwright, and considered a subdivision of the Baṛhaī [बढ़ई]."

[Quelle: Baines, Athelstane <1847 - 1925>: Ethnography (castes and tribes) / by Athelstane Baines. With a list of the more important works on Indian ethnography by W. Siegling <1880 - 1946>. -- Strassburg : Trübner, 1912. -- 211 S. -- (Grundriss der indo-arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde = Encyclopedia of Indo-Aryan research ; II, 5). -- § 39b]

9.c/d grāmādhīno grāmatakṣaḥ kauṭatakṣo 'nadhīnakaḥ

ग्रामाधीनो ग्रामतक्षः कौटतक्षो ऽनधीनकः ॥९॥

Wenn der Zimmermann von einer Gemeinde (grāma - Dorf) abhängig ist, heißt er

  • ग्रामतक्ष - grāma-takṣa m. -- Gemeinde-Zimmermann

Wenn er selbständig (unabhängig) ist, heißt er

  • कौटतक्ष - kauṭa-takṣa m. - betrügerischer Zimmermann

Colebrooke (1807): "One working for the village." ; "One independent." Barbier

10.a/b kṣurī muṇḍī divākīrti-nāpitāntāvasāyinaḥ

क्षुरी मुण्डी दिवाकीर्तिनापितान्तावसायिनः ।१०।


  • क्षुरिन् - kṣurin m. (zu kṣura m. - Rasiermesser)
  • मुण्डिन् - muṇḍin m. (zu muṇḍa 3 - kahlköpfig)
  • दिवाकीर्ति - divākīrti m. Tages-Tratsch (zu kīrti m. - Ruhm)
  • नापित - nāpita m.: Barbier
  • अन्तावसायिन् - antāvasāyin m.: der sich an der Grenze (anta m.) niederlässt

Colebrooke (1807): "A barber."


Beispiele zu:  Barbier. -- URL:

Abb.: Hindoo Barber and Female
[Bildquelle: Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India. -- Manuskript. -- 1837. -- -- Zugriff am 1017-04-15]



Though the text referred to at p. 224, ante, includes the barbers among the upper nine classes of Sudras, yet as they pare the nails of all the classes, the higher castes do not, in many parts of the country, take even drinking water from their hands. In Bengal [বঙ্গ], Behar and Orissa the napit is regarded as a clean caste. In the Telugu country, the corresponding caste of Mangli is regarded as clean also. In almost all the other provinces, the barber is regarded as unclean. In Orissa the barber caste is called Bhandari; in the Tamil country the name of the caste is Ambatta; in Mysore the designation of the class is Nayinda; in Telingana the caste name of barbers is Mangali; and in Northern India their most common names are Nai, Nain and Hajam. In the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ] there are two classes of barbers. The ordinary barbers are regarded as an unclean caste. But there is a class who do only such work as is required of the napit on occasions of marriage. These take the sacred thread, and are regarded as a clean caste, from whose hands a Brahman will not only take drinking water, but even pakki food.

As a Hindu cannot celebrate any religious ceremony without first shaving, the barber is an important functionary of Hindu society. Every Hindu has his family napit, as he has his family Guru, priest and washerman. The napit shaves him and all the male members of his family; while the napit's wife or mother pares the nails of the ladies, and paints their feet with lac-dye. Besides his regular pay, the napit has claims to various kinds of perquisites on every birth, death, marriage and puja in the families of his constituents. When a birth takes place the family barber acts as the errand boy to convey the happy news to all the relatives of the babe; and on such occasions the kith and kin are expected to present to the barber a shawl, or a piece of silk cloth, or a brass vessel of some kind, together with some money, according to their means. As a Hindu lady upon her first pregnancy is usually taken to her father’s house, the parents of her husband have to pay heavy fees to the family barber of her father, if a male child is born.

In Behar the napit acts also as an assistant on the staff of match-making embassies, and makes a handsome extra income by that kind of business. In the remote villages, the Hindu napits, like the European barbers of the seventeenth century, practise also surgery and open boils and abscesses. Some napits serve as domestic servants in the houses of the higher castes; but a Hindu of the barber caste will never till the soil with his own hands. The napits are reputed as very acute people, but as a class they are quite illiterate, and there are very few rich men among them. No napit has yet attained any University distinctions, nor has any member of the class been able to attain a high position in the service of Government by dint of ability.

The usual surname of the napit in Bengal [বঙ্গ] is Paramanik. A member of the caste is at present in the Subordinate Executive Service of Bengal [বঙ্গ]; but with a few solitary exceptions the napits are quite illiterate."

[Quelle: Bhattacharya, Jogendra Nath: Hindu castes and sects : an exposition of the origin of the Hindu caste system and the bearing of the sects towards each other and towards other religious systems. -- Calcutta : Thacker, 1896. -- S. 306f.]
"§ 43. Barbers (3,698,300). Shaving and the paring of nails are important parts of many Brāhmanic ceremonies. The arrangement of marriages is the work of an expert and trustworthy go-between; the formal communication of domestic occurrences (except deaths), the provision of music before processions, the accompanying, with a torch if necessary, of distinguished strangers on their arrival in the village, together with the essential function of gossip, all these qualifications and duties go to make the barber a much esteemed member of the village hierarchy, on a regular annual stipend either from the individual householder or out of the land or its produce.

The Nāi [नाई], Nāpit [नापित], Ambaṭṭan [அம்பட்டன்], Maṅgala [మంగలి], or Hajām [ಹಜಾಮ], moreover, is usually the only person in an average village with any knowledge of surgery, though other castes can come to the rescue of a person afflicted by such ailments as are known to yield to charms or spells. It is this practice of surgery, it is to be feared, which relegates the Barber to a social position much below the esteem he enjoys as an individual. The caste, however, as a whole, is exclusive and particular. In some tracts of the west, each caste has its own barber who will attend to no other. Everywhere, too, there is a social limit below which a barber will not shave. Nor, though his mediation is essential to the announcement of good tidings in a formal manner, will he ever consent to carry round the news of a death, a duty which is imposed upon a caste which is presumed to be below the bad luck likely to accrue from so doleful a task.

In most parts of India except the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ], where the Jhīnvar’s wife takes the office, or where a Camāri [ਚਮਾਰੀ] is employed, the barber’s wife is the midwife or monthly nurse, and occasionally she acts as hair-dresser and manicurist to women.

In Bengal [বঙ্গ], the latter occupation is alone the custom, and that but rarely. Indeed, the position of the caste, as well as that of the Bhaṇḍārī [ଭଣ୍ଡାରୀ], the barber caste of Orissa [ଓଡ଼ିଶା], is much better in the east than in other parts.

An exception must be made in favour of the Mārayān of the Malabar [മലബാര്‍] coast, who in the north of the tract is the barber of the Nāyar [നായര്‍], but as the south is approached, sheds his occupation to some extent, and acts as drummer generally, and as Nāyar [നായര്‍] priest at funerals. 

Still further down the coast, the work of shaving is left to a caste called Velakkattalavan, but which calls itself Nāyar [നായര്‍].

Meanwhile, the Mārayān have passed into temple-service, drumming and the conduct of funerals, and give themselves the name of Attikuṛicci or Ambalavāsi [അമ്പലവാസി]. Under this transformation, the caste ranks next to the Brāhman, and will not eat with Nāyar [നായര്‍]: but no more will the Nāyar [നായര്‍] eat with the Ambalavāsi [അമ്പലവാസി].

The Maṅgala [మంగలి] are the barbers of the Telugu [తెలుగు] districts, but as their connection with preparing the mourners for a funeral renders that name unlucky, they are usually addressed as Bājantri, or musicians, in reference to the other branch of their profession.

The barber is everywhere credited with vast experience of the outside world, together with a quite exceptional acquaintance with the esoteric affairs of all the families in his village. The Brāhman, therefore, ministers to him without reluctance, and what with fees, presents, feast offerings and other emoluments, he often acquires quite a well-to-do position and is respected accordingly. There are as many proverbs about him as about his confrère in the West, and both he and his razors are mentioned in the Sūktas of the Ŗgveda."

[Quelle: Baines, Athelstane <1847 - 1925>: Ethnography (castes and tribes) / by Athelstane Baines. With a list of the more important works on Indian ethnography by W. Siegling <1880 - 1946>. -- Strassburg : Trübner, 1912. -- 211 S. -- (Grundriss der indo-arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde = Encyclopedia of Indo-Aryan research ; II, 5). -- § 43] Wäscher

10.c nirṇejakaḥ syād rajakaḥ

निर्णेजकः स्याद्रजकः


  • निर्णेजक - nirṇejaka m.: Wäscher
  • रजक - rajaka m.: Wäscher

Colebrooke (1807): "A washerman."


Beispiele zu: Wäscher. -- URL:

Abb.: Hindoo Washerman ; Hindoo Washerwoman
[Bildquelle: Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India. -- Manuskript. -- 1837. -- -- Zugriff am 1017-04-15]


The Washermen are called Dhopa in Bengal [বঙ্গ], Dhobi in Northern India, Warthi and Pont in the Central Provinces, Vaunan and Agasia in Southern India and Chakli in the Telugu country. On account of the unclean nature of their occupation, they are regarded as an unclean caste in almost every part of India excepting the Telugu country where the Chakli are held eligible for being employed as domestic servants. They are, generally speaking, quite illiterate. But a few of them have recently managed to get themselves appointed to some very high offices in the service of Government.

Like the napit, the Dhobi has not only a regular salary, but has claims to various perquisites on occasions of birth, death and marriage in Hindu families. The Dhobi’s personal expenses are not very considerable. He expects and gets a dish of rice at least once every month from each of his constituents, and for purposes of clothing, he freely uses the clothes given to him for washing. The sight of a Dhobi’s face is, like that of an oilman, considered as a bad omen at the commencement of a journey, and is avoided."

[Quelle: Bhattacharya, Jogendra Nath: Hindu castes and sects : an exposition of the origin of the Hindu caste system and the bearing of the sects towards each other and towards other religious systems. -- Calcutta : Thacker, 1896. -- S. 308]
"§ 44. Washermen (2,887,600). In the south and west of India, the washerman is generally placed next below the Barber castes, but in Agra [आगरा], Oudh [अवध], Bihār [बिहार] and Bengal [বঙ্গ], his position is far lower. This difference arises from convention and custom. In the one region, all but the wealthy do their own washing, either in person, at the tank in the mornings, or through the women of the family. In the north and east, however, the handling of soiled clothes is a polluting task, and the Dhōbī [धोबी] ranks no higher than the leather-worker. He is moreover associated in these parts with the donkey, like the Kumhār [कुम्हार], and pays the penalty of the convenience. 

Dhōbī [धोबी]
[Bildquelle: Tashrih al-aqvam, an account of origins and occupations of some of the sects, castes and tribes of India, 1825 / British Library]

In most parts of upper India, in Bengal [বঙ্গ] and in the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ]  and parts of the Karnatic [ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ], the washerman is one of the hereditary village staff, and gets his share of the crops like the artisans. In Bengal [বঙ্গ] he has even to take a part in the marriage-rite of the superior castes, a function which he is not called upon to perform elsewhere. At the same time, it is usually a lucky omen if on leaving home one catches sight of a Dhōbī [धोबी] in clean clothes. The last qualification is of uncertain signification. It may be due to its rarity, or, again, it may be connected with a popular saying that the Dhōbī [धोबी]’s outer garments belong to his patrons.

Except, however, in the localities just named, the Dhōbī [धोबी] belongs to the town rather than to the village. In the south, the Vaṇṇān [வண்ணார்], like the Dhōbī [धोबी] of Hindustan, have a subdivision which will wash the clothes of the lowest classes. 

In Malabar [മലബാര്‍] only the women of the caste do washing and the men work as tailors. The Nāyar [നായര്‍] have a caste of washermen to themselves, under the title of Veḻuttēḍan, or Vaṇṇattān, who often describes himself, at the Census and otherwise, as belonging to the tribe of his employers.

The Kanarese [ಕನ್ನಡ] washerman is the Agasa.

In the Telugu [తెలుగు] country, the Cākala have a subdivision which occupies itself exclusively with dyeing, and holds itself superior to the rest. It seems, indeed, to be connected with the Velama [వెలమ] caste of agriculturists.

In the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ]  there is a similar connection between the Dhōbī [ਧੋਬੀ] and the dyer, and in some of the north-central districts of the Province the two castes are returned impartially by either trade."

[Quelle: Baines, Athelstane <1847 - 1925>: Ethnography (castes and tribes) / by Athelstane Baines. With a list of the more important works on Indian ethnography by W. Siegling <1880 - 1946>. -- Strassburg : Trübner, 1912. -- 211 S. -- (Grundriss der indo-arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde = Encyclopedia of Indo-Aryan research ; II, 5). -- § 44] Schnapsbrenner

10.d śauṇḍiko maṇḍahārakaḥ

शौण्डिको मण्डहारकः ॥१०॥


  • शौण्डिक - śauṇḍika m.: Schnapsbrenner (शौण्ड - śauṇḍa 3: trunksüchtig)
  • मण्डहारिक - maṇḍa-hāraka m.: Schmuck-Stehler

Colebrooke (1807): "A distiller."


Beispiele zu: Schnapshersteller. -- URL:



Of the several unclean castes, the most important are those connected with the manufacture and sale of spirituous liquors. Of these the following deserve special notice: —

  1. Brewers
    1. Sunri (Found in Bengal [বঙ্গ], Assam, Madras and Central Provinces. Total population 525,698).
    2. Kalwar (Found in every part of Northern India. Total population 1,195,097).
  2. Tadi or palm juice drawers
    1. Shanar and Illawar (Found in Southern India only). Total population:

      Shanar    ...     ...     690,434
      Illawar    ...     ...     703,215
      Billawa    ...     ...     127,037

    2. Bhandari (Found only in the Bombay [मुंबई] Presidency. Total population, 70,014).
    3. Pasi (Palm juice drawers; found chiefly in Behar).
    4. Tiyan    ...     538,075. Found in the Deccan.
    5. Idiga    ...     196,901. Found in the Deccan.
    6. Gaundla  ...   235,902. Found in the Deccan.

All these occupy a very low position in the Hindu caste system, and although a great many of them have in recent times become very wealthy, through the encouragement given to the liquor traffic for fiscal purposes, yet their caste status has not improved very materially. They have been, for more than half a century, struggling hard to be recognised as a clean caste. But the only classes who openly hold any communication with them, for purposes other than business, are those followers of the latter-day prophets that fatten on the rejected elements of pure Hinduism. An orthodox Brahman, Rajput, Vaidya or Kāyasth, professing any of the aristocratic forms of ancient Hinduism, would not allow a brewer to enter even his parlour, and if obliged, for the sake of business, to visit a publican in his house, he would after coming home put off his clothes, and put on another suite after regularly bathing, or sprinkling his body with the holy water of the Ganges. In Southern India a Brahman considers himself contaminated by the approach of a Shanar within twenty-four paces. In the other parts of India there is no such hard-and-fast rule. But the practice in this respect is much the same throughout the country. In East Bengal [বঙ্গ] and Orissa, even the ordinary washermen and the barbers refuse to render their usual services to the Sunris, and the very palki bearers decline to carry them on their litters.

§ 1. — The Sunris of Bengal [বঙ্গ] and Behar.

The Sunris of Bengal [বঙ্গ] and Behar are perhaps the richest of the several clans of brewers. Many of them are now among the leading traders and bankers of the country, and have given up altogether the practice of their caste profession. The Sunris of Bengal [বঙ্গ] proper are all Vishnuvites of the sect founded by Chaitanya, and some of them may be found among the Chaitanite monks called Babajis or Reverend Fathers. Although the Sunris are by nature somewhat hard-fisted, yet they patronise the Chaitanite ministers and shrines with such liberality that, within the last few years, many of the aristocratic Brahmans of the Tantric cult have espoused the Vishnuvite faith in order to have a share of their largesses, albeit the condition on which they are given is said to be that the donee must partake of the hospitality of the donor. To comply with such a sine qua non must be very humiliating to every Brahman, and it is hard to believe that love of lucre has sufficed in any case yet to overcome Brahmanical pride to such an extent. With regard to the religion of the Sunris, Mr. Risley, on the authority of the late Dr. Wise, makes the following observations which are remarkably in accordance with the actual facts: —

According to Dr. Wise almost every member of the caste is a follower of Chaitaniya, and the rich are celebrated for the ostentatious observance of the Sankirtana chants in honour of Krishna after the decease of any relative. The chief rites observed in Eastern Bengal [বঙ্গ] are the worship of Ganesa on the 1st Baisakh (April—May), and the 1st of Aghan (November—December); of Gandeshwari on the 10th of Asin (September—October); of Durga at the time of the Durga Puja in October; and of Ganga whenever their boats are starting on a trading voyage. The majority being Vaishnavas, animals are rarely offered to any deity; but when this is done, the victim is afterwards released. Shahas are very fond of pigeons, and in the courtyard of almost every house a dovecot is fixed, as they believe that the air fanned by pigeons' wings wafts good luck. They are also devoted worshippers of Kartikeya, the Hindu god of war, constructing annually in November a life-size effigy of the god, and keeping it within the female enclosure for a year. Other Hindu castes throw the image into the river immediately after the Kartik Puja, but the Shahas allege that their special veneration of the god is often rewarded, the barren rejoicing and the husband becoming the joyful father of children. It is easy to understand in what way this figure gives rise to scandalous stories among Bengalis, and how the Shaha becomes a butt for the wit and sarcasm of his neighbours.

The Behar Sunris follow the average Hinduism of that part of the country, and worship most of the regular gods as occasion offers. Their minor gods are very numerous. Dharam Raj, Bandi Goraiya, Govindji, Hanuman, Kasi Panjiar, Joti Panjiyar, Apurba Panjiar, Mira, Saiyed, Julpa, Sokha, Hosan Khan, and Panch Pir. Rice cooked in milk and sugar, cakes of ghi (puri) and various kinds of fruit are offered to them, and afterwards eaten by the worshippers. Kids are sacrificed to Bandi. On Sundays milk and flowers are offered to the Sun. In Bengal [বঙ্গ], says Dr. Wise, the Brahman, peculiar to the caste, boasts that he never accepts alms from anyone not a Sunri, but it is quite certain that none of the clean castes would present him with charity. These Brahmans, who assume the bombastic titles of Vidyasagar, Vidyalankar, Chakravarti and Pathak, like the Purohits of the other low castes, read the funeral service at the burning ghat, and are looked down upon by other members of the sacred order. The Sunris of Behar arc served by a low class of Maithila Brahmans, who also minister to the religious necessities of the Teli caste. No other Brahmans will eat and drink with these men, who are known by the contemptuous epithet, of Telia Babhan. In Chutia Nagpur the Brahmans who serve the Sunis call themselves Kanojias, but, they have no right to the name, and no other Brahmans will have anything to do with them. —Risley’s Tribes and Castes of Bengal, Vol. II, pp. 278-279.

The Sunris of Bengal [বঙ্গ] being Vishnuvites are strict vegetarians and teetotalers. There are a few Vishnuvite Bhagats among those of Behar also. But the majority of the Behar Sunris eat mutton, goat's flesh and fish. Some eat even field rats. Most of them indulge freely in strong drink. The total number of Sunris in the different provinces is as shown in the following table: —

Bengal [বঙ্গ] ... 423,466
Assam ... 51,970
Central Provinces ... 15, 420
Madras ... 34, 842
Total ... 525,698

The usual family names of the Sunris are Saha, Hoy, Das, &c.

§ 2. — The Kalwars of Northern India.

The Kalwars of Northern India have the same caste status as the Sunris of Bengal [বঙ্গ], and like them have many rich men among them, as, for instance, Babu Ham Prasad Chowdry, of Monghyr, and Babu Tejnarain, of Bhagalpur, the founder and endower of the Tejnarain College, Bhagalpur. The Kalwars are more numerous than the Sunris, and the majority of them are now petty shopkeepers having nothing to do with their ancestral profession. A very large portion of the Behari grocers and pedlars of Calcutta are Kalwars. On being first questioned they generally profess to be Baniyas, and they confess their real caste status only when sufficiently pressed. The Kalwars are divided into many sections, as, for instance, the following: —

  1. Biyahut.
  2. Jaiswar or Ajodhyabasi.
  3. Banodhya.
  4. Khalsa.
  5. Khoridaha.
  6. Diswar.

The Biyahuts and the Jaiswars have now no concern with the manufacture or sale of spirituous liquors, and as the Biyahuts do not allow their widows to re-marry, they are generally treated as a semi-clean caste. The Jaiswar's profession is similarly unexceptionable, but they worship the Mahomedan saints called Panch Piriya, and chiefly on that account, but partly also on account of their marrying their widows, they are regarded as having a lower status than the Biyahuts. As the Jaiswars worship some of the Mahomedan saints the Biyahuts and Khoridahas take a delight in going directly against the fundamental points of the Islamic faith, by offering pigs and wine to a local divinity called Goriya. *

* The Goriya is worshipped in the form of little mounds or platforms of clay to be found in many Behar villages. The precise nature of the Goriya’s claim to worship is not generally known. He seems to be the presiding deity of gors or tombs. The pigs and wine which are offered to the Goriya are not eaten or drunk by the votaries, but given to the low caste Dosadhas whose god he is.

The Banodhyas worship the Brahma Deo, i. e., the spirits of Brahmans dying in the unmarried condition.

The Kalwar population of India is 1,195,097 souls.

In the Central Provinces, the Kalwars are the brewers, and the Mahars are the tadi-drawers. The Kalwars are there generally very rich as in other parts of the country.

In the Punjab the majority of the brewers are Kallals. Some members of the scavenger caste, called Choorha, also practise the some profession.

§ 3. — The Shanars and Illavars of Dravira.

The Shanars and Illavars are identical in caste. They are a very rich community, and are very numerous in the southern districts of the Indian Peninsula. The caste is called Illavar in the northern part of the tract where they are found, and Shanar in the extreme south. In South Kanara the Illavars are called Billavars.

The Shanars eat flesh and fish, and drink strong tadi. “The peculiar marriage customs of the Nairs, together with their singular rules of inheritance, are practised by many Illavars and by a few Shanars. Husband and wife easily separate and contract other alliances. All inherited property descends to maternal nephews, while other kinds of property are shared equally by nephews and sons. Socially, these tribes are treat with great ignominy. Their women were until recently not permitted to wear clothing above their waist. They were not allowed to carry umbrellas, to wear shoes or golden ornaments, to build houses above one story in height, to milk cows, or even to use the ordinary language of the country. Even now their position is one of great humiliation. ”*

* See Sherring, Vol. III, pp. 184-185.

The treatment which the Shanars receive from the Hindu community being as stated above, many of them have been easily led by the British missionaries to embrace the faith of Christ.

With regard to the origin, occupation and social position of the Shanars, the Rev. Dr. Caldwell gives the following interesting account: —

There is reason to suppose that the Shanars are immigrants from the northern coast of Ceylon, where the same or a similar caste still exists, bearing a grammatical and intelligible form of the same name ‘Shandrar,’ of which ‘Shanar’ is etymologically a corruption. It is also tolerably certain that the Illavars and Teers (i.e. Singhalese and Islanders), who cultivate the cocoanut palm in Travancore, are descendants of Shandrar colonists from Ceylon. There are traces of a common origin among them all; 'Shanar,’ for instance, being a title of honour among the Travancore Illavars. It is traditionally reported that the Shanars who inhabit Tinneveli came from the neighbourhood of Jaffna in Ceylon; that one portion of them, the class now called Nadans (lords of the soil), entered Tinneveli by way of Ramnad, bringing with them the seed nuts of the Jaffna palmyra, the best, in the East, and appropriating or obtaining from the ancient Pandya princes, as the most suitable region for the cultivation of the palmyra, the sandy waste lands of Manad in the south-east, of Tinneveli, over which to the present day, they claim rights of seignorage, and that the other portion of the immigrants, esteemed a lower division of the caste, came by the sea. to the south of Travancore, where vast numbers of them are still found, and whence, having but little land of their own, they have gradually spread themselves over Tinneveli on the invitation of the Nadans and other proprietors of land, who, without the help of their poorer neighbours, as climbers, could derive but little profit from their immense forests of palmyra. Some of these immigrations have probably taken place since the Christian era; and it is asserted by the Syrian Christians of Travancore, that one portion of the tribe, the Illavars, were brought over from Ceylon by their ancestors for the cultivation of the cocoanut palm. The Shanars, though probably immigrants from Ceylon, are Hindus, not of the Brahmanical but of the Tamil or aboriginal race.

The caste of Shanars occupies a middle position between the Vellalars and their Pariah slaves. The majority of the Shanar confine themselves to the hard and weary labour appointed to their race. But a considerable number have become cultivators of the soil, as land-owners or farmers, or are engaged in trade. —Dr. Caldwell’s Essay on the Tinnereli Shanars, pp. 4—7.

Good Brahmans never minister to the Shanars as priests, and their religious ceremonies are usually performed by the Pandarams.

§ 4. —The Bhandaris of Western India.

The tadi-drawers of the Kankan and Bombay [मुंबई] are called Bhandari. Their total number is about one hundred and seventy thousand souls. They themselves do not drink the juice of the palm in the fermented state.

§ 5. — The Pasis of Behar.

The Pasis are the tadi-drawers of Behar. They eat fowls and field rats, and indulge freely in spirituous and fermented liquors. Many of them have taken to cultivation, and hold lands as occupancy or non-occupancy ryots. Others are employed as day labourers, porters and coolies. The good Brahmans never officiate at their religious ceremonies, and at their sacrifices, funerals and marriages, they get either a degraded Brahman, or a member of their own caste, to act as the priest. They allow their widows to re-marry in the sagai form. They allow also divorce and the re-marriage of divorced wives. The Basis worship all the minor gods of Behar, as, for instance, Bandi Goriya and Sokha. In the month of Jeth the sickle (hansuli) used for cutting the palm tree is regularly worshipped by them with flowers and grain.

§ 6. — The Tiyans of Southern India.

The Tiyans of Malabar and Travancore are palm cultivators and tadi-drawers like the Shanars and Illavars. The Tiyans, however, are regarded as even more unclean. They are generally very handsome, but they are treated as Pariahs. They practise polyandry. The total number of the Tiyans exceeds five hundred thousand souls.

§ 7. — The Idigas of Mysore and the Telugu country.

The tadi-drawers of Mysore and the Telugu country are called Idigas. They do not seem to be regarded as a very unclean caste, as they are now freely employed in domestic service. They were formerly employed as soldiers under the local Palligars. The number of persons returned as Idigas by the last Census is 196,901.

§ 8. — The Gaundla and the Gamalla of the Telugu country.

The Gaundlas of Hyderabad are a numerous community. They number 235,902 persons. The Gamallas of the Telugu country are the same as the Gaundlas. There are no Shanars or Kalwars in the Telugu country. The Idigas and the Gamallas are the tadi-drawers, while the Sunris are the brewers. There is in the Telugu country another caste named Sittigadu, who have the same occupation as the Idigas."

[Quelle: Bhattacharya, Jogendra Nath: Hindu castes and sects : an exposition of the origin of the Hindu caste system and the bearing of the sects towards each other and towards other religious systems. -- Calcutta : Thacker, 1896. -- S. 254 - 261]

"§ 47. Toddy-drawers (4,765,400). Between the lower artisans and the field-labourers may be taken the castes which live by tapping the palm for its juice, in some parts of India a body of numerical importance.. They occupy but a low position, partly by reason of their origin, partly again because the toddy they provide is often kept till fermented, and being thus an intoxicant, is relegated to the impure articles of consumption. This is the case still more markedly with the distilling castes, which are classed among the urban and dealt with separately. Along the coasts the coco and palmyra abound, and the date flourishes in Telingāna [తెలంగాణ] and the Gangetic valley. It is here, therefore, that these castes are in greatest strength. In lower Bengal [বঙ্গ] and on the Gujarāt [ગુજરાત] coast, though the material in question is abundant, it is the custom of the cultivators to tap their own trees or to employ the ordinary field-labourer or lower village menial to do the work for them. The tree-tapping castes, too, even where there is the greatest field for their labour, are largely engaged in cultivation, either as landholders or labourers. The chief caste of this description in the Ganges valley is the Pāsī [पासी], a name derived from a noose, probably in reference to the belt by means of which the palm is climbed, or, where the caste is addicted to wandering in the jungle for hunting purposes, from the snare then used. In Oudh [अवध], where the Pāsī [पासी] has a bad reputation, the noose in question used to be identified with that used by the Thag [ठग] in strangling their victims. The Pāsī [पासी] is probably of very early pre-Āryan origin emanating from the Vindhya [विन्‍ध्य], and akin to the Arakh and Khaṭīk [खटीक] castes, now differentiated by occupation. In Bihār [बिहार] it ranks with the Bind or Cain, already mentioned as low fishing or boating castes,, but in the west, it takes a lower place.

The Bhaṇḍārī [भण्डारी], of the west, coast, which is not to be confused with the Barber caste of Orissa [ଓଡ଼ିଶା], adheres more closely to its traditional calling, probably because its opportunities are greater, and the “toddy-habit” is more extensively established in the tract where it resides. Its members cultivate also to some extent, since restrictions upon the extraction of toddy were imposed by the government. They also distill spirit from forest produce and sugar in the State distilleries.

Further down the coast, the Bhaṇḍārī [भण्डारी] is replaced by two similarly localised castes following the same trade, the Paik and the Billava [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ]. Both names are derived from the military services rendered to the Tulu [ತುಳು] chiefs by the ancestry of the communities in question. The Paik were the infantry, and on the strength of the tradition, some of them now claim to be Kṣatriya, substituting the sub-title of Nāmdhār [ನಾಮಧಾರ], for that of Haḻe [ಹಳೆ], or old, Paik. By some, however, their name is derived from Pai, the spirit worshipped by tree-tapping castes. There are probably as many cultivators among them in the present day as tree-tappers. They speak Kanarese [ಕನ್ನಡ], whereas the Billava [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ], further to the south, are a Tulu [ತುಳು] caste, and, share, moreover, the customs of Malabar [മലബാര്‍] in religion and ceremonial, employing their own priests, where the Paik call in the Sātāni [సాతాని], an upland caste. The name Billava [ಬಿಲ್ಲವ] means archer, corresponding to the Dhānuk [धानुक] a labouring caste of upper India, the Kandrā of Orissa [ଓଡ଼ିଶା], and the Cāvadā [ચાવડા], a Gurjara [गुर्जर] Rājput [राजपूत] clan.

The south of the Peninsula is occupied by three large treetapping bodies, probably connected with each other in origin. The name Īḻavan [ഈഴവർ / ஈழவர்], which is now used to designate one only of the three, was once applied to all.

It means a native of Ceylon, and the Tīyan, who are sometimes called by it in south Malabar [മലബാര്‍], also derive their name from dvīpa [ദ്വീപ്], an island, and claim to have come from the south. Furthermore, they address each other by the name of Śenan, which apparently corresponds with Śāṇān, the tree-tapping caste of the south-east. They are divided, like the Nāyar [നായര്‍], into two distinct bodies, the northerners and the south-Malabar Tīyan. The northerners are wealthier, better educated and more enterprising than the others, and have managed to get some of their community into good posts under the Government. The southerners are poor, illiterate, and more closely connected with their traditional employment, with field labour as the alternative. Still further south there is a smaller body, the Taṇḍān, probably a sub-caste of the Tīyan, but not intermarrying with them. This caste has the curious custom mentioned in connection with the Nāyar [നായര്‍], of prohibiting its women from crossing a certain river. As those on the south are far better off than their kinsfolk on the other side, this restriction may have a solid mundane basis.

The third of these castes, the Śāṇān, is found principally in Tinnevelli [திருநெல்வேலி] and Madura [மதுரை] [மதுரை], though it is spread to some extent over most of the Tamil [தமிழ்] district. The title is not found in the early Tamil [தமிழ்] dictionaries, and in the inscriptions of the 10th century the caste is called Iluvan. The name Śāṇān is said to be derived from śāṇ and nār, signifying a span-long noose, thereby corresponding to the name of the Pāsī [पासी] of upper India. The caste came into great prominence in 1899, when it asserted by force its right to enter the temples of the Maṛavan [மறவர்] caste, on the score of its Kṣatriya origin, a title rejected by the rest of the community. The occupation of the caste is undoubtedly of great antiquity in southern India, and the Kadamba [ಕದಂಬ] dynasty of Mysore [ಮೈಸೂರು] sprang from one of its subdivisions. Numbers of the caste, therefore, were employed in its army and afterwards settled as a semi military peasantry or labouring class upon the land occupied. The tradition of such an origin, however, has not survived amongst the Śāṇān, whose claims are of comparatively recent date. Curiously enough, the only sympathisers with the claim, outside those who put it forward, are the Christian converts from the caste. The general position of the Śāṇān in society is that of the lower field labourer, just above that of the menial class. In former years, indeed, it appears that the Śāṇān, like the weavers, were prohibited from living within the village site.

In the Telugu [తెలుగు] country and the Coromandel [கோரமண்டல்] coast the tree-tapping castes are fairly strong. The Īḍiga [ಈಡಿಗ], which is the principal body amongst them, is an offshoot of the great Balija [ಬಲಿಜ / பலிஜா ] class, with whom it still sits down to meals. The separation seems to have taken place on functional considerations, though the Īḍiga [ಈಡಿಗ] eschew spirituous liquor and employ Brāhmans of good position. They pay special homage, however, to the goddess of toddy and intoxicants generally. It is sometimes returned as Indra, but the derivation of Īḍiga [ಈಡಿಗ], from the verb to extract or draw, like that from the climbing-loop in other cases, seems to indicate the more appropriate title.

The Gamaḻḻa, or Gauṇḍla [గౌండ్ల] caste is also one of the same locality, and has a subdivision of the name of Īḍiga [ಈಡಿಗ]. Its position, however, is a little lower, and it ranks with the petty cultivators or more respectable field labourers. Brāhmans are called in for its ceremonies, except for funerals, which are under the Sātānī.

On the coast just below Orissa [ଓଡ଼ିଶା], are two small castes, the Segidi and the Yāta, which are toddy-drawers by tradition and mainly in practice. The latter also weaves mats and baskets from the palmyra-leaf, in spite of its title, which refers to the date-palm.

In the other parts of India there is either not enough occupation for a special caste of this description, or the work is done, as in the Central Provinces and Rājputāna [राजपुतान], by the Pāsī [पासी] or similar castes, already mentioned."

[Quelle: Baines, Athelstane <1847 - 1925>: Ethnography (castes and tribes) / by Athelstane Baines. With a list of the more important works on Indian ethnography by W. Siegling <1880 - 1946>. -- Strassburg : Trübner, 1912. -- 211 S. -- (Grundriss der indo-arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde = Encyclopedia of Indo-Aryan research ; II, 5). -- § 47]


[The knowledge of Spirits of various kinds, by the Natives of Hindustan, is very wide-spread, and dates from an early period. At the present day there are few tracts in India where locally-prepared spirits are not largely consumed by, at any rate, the lower castes of Natives. In the Ordinances of Manu, the text of which, as it now stands, dates, by the latest estimate, between 100 and 500 A.D., there are frequent references to the drinking of spirituous liquors to excess, so that it is evident that this must have been a common offence, and the twice-born are often urged to avoid the temptation. Three kinds of spirituous liquor are described, viz., that made “of sugar (molasses), of ground rice, and of the flowers of the honey tree” (Bassia latifolia [Madhuca longifolia (J.Konig) J.F.Macbr. - Mowra Buttertree / Mowra-Butterbaum]),—liquors which, down to the present day, are those most commonly consumed by the Natives of India. U. C. Dutt, in his Materia Medica of the Hindus, says that the later Sanskrit writers describe thirteen kinds of distilled liquors, one or other of which was widely used in their rime.

Coming down to more modern dates, the Ain-i-Akbari [16. Jhdt.] [آئینِ اکبری] describes fully an intoxicating liquor made from the sugar-cane or from brown sugar by simple fermentation, and says that this is sometimes drunk as a beverage, but is mostly employed for the distillation of arak.

“This latter,” continues Abu I Fazl [1551 - 1602] [ابو الفضل], “they have several methods of accomplishing:

  1. first, they put the above liquor into brass vessels, in the interior of which a cup is put so as not to shake, nor must the liquor flow into it. The vessels are then covered with inverted lids, which are fastened with clay. After pouring cold water on the lids, they kindle the fire, changing the water on the lids as often as it gets warm. As soon as the vapour inside reaches the cold lid, it condenses and falls as arak into the cup.
  2. Secondly, they close the same vessel with an earthen pot, fastened in the same manner with clay, and fix to it two pipes, the free ends of which have each a jar attached to them, which stands in cold water. The vapour through the pipes will enter the jars, and condense.
  3. Thirdly, they fill an earthen vessel with the above-mentioned liquor and fasten to it a large spoon with a hollow handle. The end of the handle they attach to a pipe, which leads into a jar. The vessel is covered with a lid, which is kept full with cold water. The arak, when condensed, flows through the spoon into the jar. Some distil the arak twice, when it is called duātaskah, or twice burned. It is very strong. If you wet your hands with it, and hold them near the fire, the spirit will burn in flames of different colours, without injuring the hands. It is remarkable that when a vessel, containing arak, is set on fire, you cannot put it out by any means ; but if you cover the vessel, the fire gets at once extinguished."

The same author describes a spirit distilled from the Mahūa [महुआ - Madhuca longifolia, (J.Konig) J.F.Macbr.], and records the fact that excessive spirit-drinking prevailed among the grandees at the Court of Akbar.

Linschoten [Jan Huygen van Linschoten, 1563 - 1611], in the sixteenth century, deplored the fact that the Portuguese soldiers were learning from the Natives of India the pernicious practice of drinking spirits in place of the wine imported from their own country.

Tavernier [Jean-Baptise Tavernier, 1605 - 1689], in his Travels in India (1670-1689), mentions a spirit distilled from palm wine which was largely drunk by the idolators of India at certain feasts; he describes the method in which it was prepared.

The above facts may serve to show the reader that the custom of spirit-drinking m India is by no means new, while the details hereafter to be given of the multitudinous substances employed in various parts of the country for the preparation of the liquors, will show that the custom is wide-spread and certainly not an adaptation of a European habit. The means of procuring fermentation in a saccharine or malted liquor are and have been for long much more extensively understood in India than in Europe generally.

Numerous other publications might be quoted in support of this view, but those cited would seem sufficient. For the details of the recent liquor traffic in Bengal, and the statistics relating to the importation of foreign spirits, the reader is referred to the article under Narcotics, Vol. V., 332, and to Vitis vinifera, Vol. VI., Pt. IV.--Ed., Dict. Econ. Prod.]


The following are the principal substances used m India at the present day, in the preparation of Spirits, arranged in their alphabetical order :— 


  1. Agave americana, Linn. ; Amaryllidæ. The Century Plant [Hundertjährige Agave]. The juice is used in Mexico in the preparation of a spirit called Mezcal. Although the plant is naturalised in many parts of India, it does not as yet appear to have been utilised in India for that purpose, probably on account of the abundance of other spirit-producing substances.
  2. Anacardium occidentale, Linn, ; Anacardiaceæ. The Cashew Nut [Acajubaum]. The people of Goa [गोंय] distil a spirit from the succulent fruit-stalk.
  3. Andropogon laniger, Desf. [Cymbopogon jwarancusa subsp. olivieri (Boiss.) Soenarko.]; Gramineæ. [Lemongrass / Zitronellegras / Zitronengras] This grass is mixed with spices, and a spirit or arak distilled from it (Stewart).
  4. Anthocephalus Cadamba, Bth. & Hook f. [Neolamarckia cadamba (Roxb.) Bosser] Rubiaceæ. [कदंब]According to U. C. Dutt, a spirit distilled from the flowers is mentioned by the later Sanskrit writers.
  5. Arenga saccharifera, Labill [ Arenga pinnata, (Wurmb.) Merr. 1917] Palmæ. [Sugar Palm / Molukken-Zuckerpalme] The Sago Palm of Malacca and the Malaya, the juice of which is used in Batavia for the production of the celebrated Batavian arak, but it is apparently not so employed in India.
  6. Bassia latifolia, Roxb. [Madhuca longifolia, (J.Konig) J.F.Macbr.]; Sapotaceæ. Mahūa [महुआ, Mowra Buttertree / Mowra-Butterbaum]. The spirit resulting from the fermentation and distillation of the flowers of this tree is very largely consumed by Natives of Central India, Chutia Nagpur [छोटा नागपुर], the Central Provinces, and those parts of the Bombay Presidency where the tree occurs. For a description of the ordinary Native method of obtaining Mahūa spirits, the reader is referred to the account given under Narcotics (see Vol, V., 323). Under Government restrictions a very large quantity of Mahūa spirit is manufactured at Uran [उरण] on the island of Karanja in the south-west corner of the Bombay harbour, for use in the town of Bombay [मुंबई]. As the methods employed there are somewhat different to the rude Native ones, they maybe described in detail.

    “There are about twenty distilleries on the island, all of which are owned by Pārsis [پارسى]. The Collector of Salt Revenue issues yearly licenses for working the distilleries. Provided they mix nothing with the spirit, the holders of licenses are free to make liquor in whatever way they choose. The Mahūa [महुआ] flowers are brought to Bombay by rail from Jabalpur [जबलपुर], and from Kaira [ખેડા], the Panch Mahals [પંચમહાલ] and Rewa Kantha in Gujarat [ગુજરાત]. Much of the Gujarat mahūa comes by sea direct to Uran. Most of the Jabalpur mahūa comes by rail to Bombay, and from Bombay is sent to Uran in small boats by Parsis, who are the chief mahūa merchants. When set apart for making spirits, mahūa, flowers are allowed to dry, and are then soaked in water. Fermentation is started by adding some of the dregs of a former distillation, and the flowers are generally free to ferment for eight or nine days.

    “The Native stills formerly in use have given place to stills of European fashion, consisting of a larger copper boiler and a proper condenser. The cover of the boiler has a retort-shaped neck which is put in connection with the winding tube or warm in the condenser, and the condenser is kept full of sea water, all the distilleries having wells connected by pipes with the sea. Even in these stills the first distillation, technically called rasi, is very weak and would find no market in Bombay. It is therefore re-distilled, and becomes benda or twice distilled, which is nearly as strong as ordinary brandy, and on being poured from one glass into another, gives a proper 'head' or froth without which Bombay topers will not have it. Spirit is sometimes scented or spiced by putting rose leaves, imported dry from Persia, cinnamon or cardamoms into the stills with the mahūa. This is generally weak ; it is often made, to order for the cellars of wealthy Parsis in Bombay, or for wedding parties. Date rum is manufactured in the same manner as plain double-distilled mahūa spirit, and, though colourless at first, it acquires the colour of rum after standing in wood for a few months, as mahūa spirit also does. Small quantities of spirit are sometimes made from raisins or from molasses. Palm spirit is not allowed to be manufactured in the Uran distilleries. It is made in a single distillery in the town of Uran. Since 1880 two of the distilleries have held licenses for the manufacture of spirits of wine, which is sold in Bombay to chemists. This is made from weak mahūa spirit, in English or French stills of superior construction.

    “Each distillery has a strong room in which the outturn of the day’s distilling is every morning stored. Each strong room is kept under a double lock, the key of one lock remaining with the owner, and the key of the second lock with the Government officer in charge of the distilleries. All liquor intended for transport to Bombay or the Thāna [ठाणे] and Kolāba [कुलाबा] ports is brought every morning from the distilleries into a large gauging-house near the wharf. The liquor is, therefore, gauged by the Government officers in charge, and, on payment of the duty, permits are granted for its removal and transport. The liquor is sent in boats belonging to, or hired by, the liquor owners, which start with the ebbtide and cross the harbour to the Carnac wharf in Bombay. At the Carnac wharf the liquor is examined and occasionally tested by customs officers, who also compare each consignment with the permit covering it. ”

  7. Bassia longifolia, Willd [Madhuca longifolia, (J.Konig) J.F.Macbr.]. The Mowa  or Mahūa [महुआ, Mowra Buttertree / Mowra-Butterbaum] tree of South India. A spirit is prepared from the flowers of this species.
  8. Borassus flabelliformis, Linn. [Borassus flabellifer, Linn.]; Palmæ. The Palmyra Palm [Palmyra Palme]. The distillation of the toddy or fermented juice yields arak.
  9. Calotropis gigantea, R. Br.; Asclepiadace. [Crownplant / Giant Milkweed / Mudarpflanze] An intoxicating liquor called bar is said to be prepared from the milky juice of this plant (Birdwood). Other authors say it is only used as an adjunct in the fermentation of an alcoholic liquor.
  10. Caryota urens, Linn.; Palmæ. The Hill Palm or Sago Palm. [Brennpalme / Sagopalme] The toddy when distilled is made into arak.
  11. Cissampelos Pereira, Linn. [Cissampelos pareira, Linn.]; Menispermaceæ. [Velvetleaf] In Garhwal [गढ़वाल] a spirit is said to be distilled from the root.
  12. Cocos nucifera, Linn.; Palmæ. Cocoa-nut Palm. [Kokospalme] The toddy is largely made into native spirits. Five paras (or measures) of good arak may be made from a single tree devoted to the purpose during a single year, but some very good trees will give, though rarely, eight to ten paras (Simmonds' Tropical Agriculture).
  13. Coffea arabica, Linn.; Rubiacbæ. [Arabian coffee / Arabischer Kaffeestrauch] The ripe pulp of the coffee berry contains a quantity of sugar which might be converted into alcohol. In some experiments made by Dr. Shortt it was found that 8 oz. of the dried husk when steeped in water, fermented and distilled, yielded one ounce of spirits. This is not, however, used by the Natives of India.
  14. Cordia Myxa, Linn.; Boragineæ. [Schwarze Brustbeere] The fruit which is known to Anglo-Indians as Sebesten is used in the preparation of spirits.
  15. Daphne oleoides, Schreb.; Thymelæaceæ. Brandis says that on the Sutlej [ستلج] a spirit is distilled from the berries.
  16. Diospyros Lotus, Linn.; Ebenaceæ. The European Date Plum. [Lotuspflaume] According to Irvine spirits are in the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ] distilled from the fruit. Stewart is, however, of opinion that no such use is made of them.
  17. Elaeagnus latifolia, Linn.; Eleagineæ. [Ölweide] A brandy is made in Yarkand [莎車縣] from the fruit of this tree.
  18. Eleusine Corocana, Gaertn.; Gramineæ. [Finger millet /Fingerhirse / Korakan] A beer and a spirit are made from the fermented infusion of this grain in the Sikkim [འབྲས་ལྗོངས] Himālaya, in Madras [மதராஸ்], etc., etc.
  19. Ephedra vulgaris, Rich. [Ephedra distachya subsp. distachya]; Gnetaceæ. [Joint pine, Gewöhnliches Meerträubel] [The reader will find in Vol. Ill, 24.6-252, an account of the "Soma” of Sanskrit authors. Since the appearance of that chapter, the Editor has received a specimen of this plant from G. G. Minniken, Esq., Forest Department, Bashrh, which bears the information that it is used on the Upper Himālayan ranges to flavour spirits and to assist fermentation. In Afghanistan [افغانستان] it is also employed in the preparation of a preservative fluid used in the manufacture of raisins. See Vitis vinifera].—Ed., Dict. Econ Prod.
  20. Eugenia Jambolana, Lam. [Szyzygium cumini (L.) Skeels]; Myrtaceæ. [Jambolan / Wachs-Jambuse] A spirit called jambūa is distilled from the juice of the ripe fruit.
  21. Grewia asiatica, Linn.; Tiliaceæ. [Phalsa / Falsa] A spirit is distilled from the fruit.
  22. Hordeum vulgare, Linn.; Gramineæ. [Barley / Mehrzeilige Gerste / Saat-Gerste] The grain is much employed in some parts of India in the preparation of a kind of spirituous liquor. In Spiti [स्पीती] a liquor is distilled from it which is called chang [ཆང་]. It is sold at 30 puttahs for the rupee. A puttah is a liquid measure of 2 seers= ¾ of a pucka seer. The people of these regions consume large quantities of chang, and on occasions of festivity one man is said to consume as much as four puttahs ” (Baden Powell).
  23. Melia Azadirachta, Linn. [Azadirachta indica subsp. indica, A. Juss.]; Meliaceæ. The Nim or Margosa Tree. [Indischer Flieder / Gewöhnlicher Burma-Nimbaum] The fermented toddy is occasionally distilled.
  24. Morus alba, Linn.; Urticaceæ. [Silkworm Mulberry / Weißer maulbeerbaum] A spirit is distilled from the fruit in Kashmir [کشمیر] (Lowther).
  25. Opuntia Dillenii, Haw. [Opuntia stricta, Haw.]; Cacteæ. The Prickly Pear. [Feigenkaktus] Proposals have been made in Spain to utilise the better varieties of prickly pears for the preparation of alcohol.
  26. Oryza sativa, Linn.; Gramineæ. [Reis] Rice-beer, or pachwai, is often distilled and a spirit obtained from it. In Burma [မြန်မာ] rice spirit, Skam-shao, is largely used. It is very simply prepared. The rice is first steeped in water, to which herbs have been added to promote fermentation 5 when thoroughly fermented, the liquor is transferred to an iron cauldron covered with an inverted pail, the two being lightly secured by a paste of flour and water and allowed to boil on a slow fire. In the lower part of the pail a hollow bamboo, 4 feet long, is inserted; this connects the apparatus with a double walled vessel, the inner compartment of which is constantly kept cool by fresh supplies of water. The liquor passes into this and condenses. The first quality sells for R2-8 per bottle; the second, which is only the old material with an addition of water re-distilled, at R1-8, and the third at R1. The first and second burn with a light blue flame, and ignite immediately, but not so with the third, for which, indeed, there is hardly any sale. It is principally used to adulterate the first qualities (Strettel). (Conf, with III ,249 ; V, 330.)
  27. Phoenix dactylifera, Linn.; Palmæ. The Date Palm. [Dattelpalme] It yields a saccharine juice, from which sugar, and a fermented and distilled spirit, may be made, but it is little used for these purposes, since the fruit is more valuable.
  28. Phoenix sylvestris, Roxb. The Wild Date Palm. [Silber-Dattelpalme] The fermented toddy is distilled and made into arak and a spirit resembling rum is obtained from the scum which oozes out from the gūr [गुड़], while in the process of being refined to form dhulua sugar.
  29. Rhizophora mucronata, Lamk.; Rhizophoreæ. [Manglebaum / Mangrovebaum] The fermented juice of the fruit is said to be sometimes used as a source of a spirit.
  30. Saccharum officinarum, Linn.; Gramineæ.  [Sugar cane / Zuckerrohr] Rum is obtained chiefly by the distillation of the uncrystallisable portion of the expressed juice of this plant. A coarse rum obtained in this way is largely drunk in India. [Indeed, so ancient is this custom that many forms of cane are chiefly valued because of the large quantity and peculiar flavour of the molasses. Rum distilled direct from the juice of these canes is said to be much superior to that distilled from the juice that has been boiled down to rab or gur and the molasses separated by filtration or straining. The Natives thus recognise the fact that a mixture of crystallizable with uncrystallizable sugar yields the best quality of rum. But the peculiar flavour of rum by direct distillation is highly extolled by some of the more ancient authors, and the subject was accordingly thought worthy of special enquiry by the Honourable the East India Company.— Ed., Dict. Econ. Prod.
  31. Sorghum vulgare, Pers. [Sorghum bicolor var. bicolor]; Gramineæ. [Great Millet / Gewöhnliche Mohrenhirse] A spirit is distilled from the grain.
  32. Vitis vinifera, Linn.; AMPELIDEæ. [Weinrebe] In some parts of North-West India, as Peshawar [پیشاور], a kind of coarse brandy is obtained from grape juice, but it is not common nor used further than locally.
  33. Woodfordia floribunda, Salisb. [Woodfordia fruticosa, (L.) Kurz]; Lythraceæ. "In Kangra [काँगड़ा] part of the plant is used in the preparation of spirits” (Stewart).


  1. Acacia arabica, Willd. [Acacia nilotica (L.) Willd. ex Delile]; Leguminosæ. [Gum Arabic tree / Ägyptischer Schotendorn] The root-bark of this species, as well as of A. ferrugiaea, A. Jacquemontii, and A. leucophloea [Vachellia leucophloea, (Roxb.) Maslin, Seigler & Ebinger] is widely used in India for flavouring native spirits and to arrest the further stage of fermentation.
  2. Berberis aristata, DC.; Berberideæ. [Chitra / Begrannte Berberitze] The fruits of this and of B. asiatica and B. Lycium [Indian Lycium / Himalaya-Berberitze], are used in the Himālaya to flavour arak.
  3. Gentiana tenella, Fries.; and G. Kurroo, Royle; Gentianaceæ. [Kies-Enzian] In Ladak [ལ་དྭགས་] the root of the former species is put in spirits to flavour them; the latter is similarly used in other parts of the Himālaya.
  4. Illicium verum, Hook. f.; Magnoliaceæ. The Star Anise of China. [Chinesischer Sternanis] The fruits are largely used throughout the East for flavouring spirits.
  5. Juniperus communis, Linn.; Coniferæ. [Common juniper / Heide-Wacholder] From the berries, together with barley meal, a spirit is distilled. The berries are used only to impart a gin-like flavour (Stewart).
  6. Spices. Spices of various sorts are also added as flavouring materials to the fermented liquors before they are distilled. Those most commonly employed are betel-nuts, cloves, sandal-wood, cumin seeds, black pepper, ginger, nutmegs, cardamoms, cinnamon, and the tubers of fragrant grasses belonging to the genus Andropogon [Beard grass / Blauhalm].


  1. Acacia leucophloea, Willd. [Vachellia leucophloea (Roxb.) Maslin, Seigler & Ebinger][Bark is used m manufacture of Native spirits. It is supposed to increase the quantity of alcohol by arresting (as hops do) the secondary fermentation.—Ed., Dict. Econ. Prod.
  2. Anamirta Cocculus, W. & A. [Anamirta paniculata Colebr.]; Menispermaceæ. [Levant Berry / Scheinmyrte] The seeds are used to increase intoxicating effects of country spirits sold in retail.
  3. Cannabis sativa, Linn.; Urticaceæ. Indian Hemp. [Haschischpflanze / Indischer Hanf] The leaves are employed in the preparation of the intoxicating liquor hashish. Bhang—the young leaves—is used to make Native beer or spirits more narcotic.
  4. Cerevisiae Fermentum [Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Meyen ex E.C. Hansen. ]—Yeast [Backhefe]; see Vol. II., 257-260.
  5. Clerodendron serratum, Spreng. [Rotheca serrata (L.) Steane & Mabb.]; Verbenaceæ. [Blue fountain bush] The root is used by the Santals [ᱥᱟᱱᱛᱟᱲᱤ] to cause fermentation.
  6. Datura fastuosa, Linn. [Datura metel L.], and other species; Solanaceæ. [Downy thorn apple / Flaumiger Stechapfel] The smoke from the seeds burnt on charcoal, or a powder of the seeds themselves, is sometimes mixed with Native spirits to render it more intoxicating.
  7. Ephedra vulgaris, Rich. [Ephedra distachya subsp. distachya]; Gnetaceæ. [Joint pine, Gewöhnliches Meerträubel]. See the remarks under 19 above.
  8. Humulus Lupulus, Linn ; Urticaceæ. Hops. [Gewöhnlicher Hopfen] Used in India by European brewers only, the supply being imported.
  9. Ligustrum Roxburghii, Clarke. [Ligustrum lucidum W.T.Aiton]; Oleaceæ. [White Wax tree / Glänzender Liguster] In South India the bark of this tree is put into toddy of Caryota urens to accelerate fermentation.
  10. Phyllanthus Emblica, Linn.; Euphorbiaceæ.  [Emblic myrobalan / Amblabaum] The fruit is mixed with the substances used in the preparation of some Native spirits. It is supposed to increase their strength.
  11. Strychnos Nux-vomica, Linn.; Loganiaceæ. [Gewöhnliche Brechnuss] In many parts of India the seeds are eaten to produce intoxication, or are mixed with beverages for that purpose.
  12. Terminalia bellirica, Roxb.; CombretacEæ. [Belleric myrobalan / Belerische Myrobalane] The fruit of this or of T. Chebula, Retz., is employed in the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ] to increase the strength of spirits."

[Quelle: Watt, George <1851 - 1930>: A dictionary of the economic products of India. -- Calcutta : Department of Revenue and Agriculture, Government of India. -- Vol. VI, pt. 3: Silk to Tea. -- 1893. -- Nr. 2585 - 2641] Ziegenhirt

11.a jābālaḥ syād ajājīvo

जाबालः स्यादजाजीवो 


  • जाबाल - jābāla m.: Ziegenhirte
  • अजाजीवो - ajājīvo m.: Dessen Lebensunterhalt Ziegen sind

Colebrooke (1807): A goatherd."


Beispiele zu: Ziegenhirt / Schäfer. -- URL: Götterdiener

11.b devājīvas tu devalaḥ

देवाजीवस् तु देवलः ।११।


  • देवाजीव - devājīva m.: dessen Lebensunterhalt Götter sind
  • देवल - devala m.: "ein Mann, der Götterbilder unter seiner Obhut hat und vom Zeigen und herumtragen derselben lebt" (PW)

Colebrooke (1807): "An attendant on an idol."


Beispiele zu: Götterdiener. -- URL:ötterdiener.htm

Abb.: Religious Offering (Hindoo)
[Bildquelle: Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India. -- Manuskript. -- 1837. -- -- Zugriff am 1017-04-15]

"§ 56. Temple services, a) Priests (695,400). In treating of the Brāhman, it was mentioned that whilst the post of priest in a family of a pure caste was one which could be occupied with credit by a member of the sacerdotal order, ministration in a temple was held to be a duty only to be undertaken by a degraded, or at least, one of the lower, subdivisions of Brāhmans. The distinction, it was pointed out, lies probably in the divergence of the worship of the non-Āryan deities of the existing pantheon from the old Vedic sacrifices, still held in reverence, at least in theory, by all orthodox Brāhmans. There is also the risk, or perhaps the certainty, of contamination to be incurred in disposing of the offerings made in the course of these services. Notwithstanding these drawbacks, Brāhmans are found to perform the necessary offices before the god in the great majority of the temples of their creed.

Equally low in the estimation of the order is the Brāhman who subsists upon the fees and offerings of pilgrims at the great centres of religious resort, and still lower, the Mahābrāhman, who takes part in funeral rites. All these, however, are included under the general title of Brāhman.

Outside this designation are some small classes who claim to be Brāhmans because they perform temple service, but who are recruited from the lay castes of the vicinity.

The Pujārī [पुजारी] and Bhōjkī [भोजकी], of the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ]  Himālaya are cases of this kind, and, though repudiated by the Sārasvat Brāhmans [सारस्वत ब्राह्मण] to whom they have attached themselves, they seem to have all the position of the order among the people to whom they minister.

The Bhōjak [भोजक] and Sēvak [सेवक] of west Rājputāna [राजपुतान], again, who have been mentioned in connection with the Banyā [बनिया], are held to be Brāhmans, albeit degraded by their connection with the Jain [जैन] worship. The real reason for the lowness of their position is surmised to be their foreign origin, of which mention was made above.

The impure castes, and, in the Dravidian country, a good many of the lower agricultural castes, employ their own caste-fellows for priestly duties outside the temple, whilst a few castes, in the south, officiate for not only their own body but for other castes of similar or slightly superior rank. Generally, however, these semi-priestly castes are themselves of low rank. 

The Paṇḍāram [பண்டாரம்], for instance, is generally considered to be a branch of the Āṇḍi, a fraternity of Tamil [தமிழ்] religious mendicants; but there is one subdivision considerably above the average of the latter class, which is educated to a certain extent, wears the sacred thread, presides over monastic and temple establishments, and officiates as priests to the great Veḻḻāḻan [வேளாளர்] peasantry and the castes immediately below and above it.

Some of the Dāsari, too, in the Telugu [తెలుగు] country, rise far above the rest, and do service in temples and with respectable families of any caste below the Brāhman.

The Vaḻḻuvan [வள்ளுவர்], once the priests of the Pallava [பல்லவர்] dynasties, now officiate for the Paḻḻan [மள்ளர்] and Paṛaiyan [பறையர்] and have lost much of their former position by so doing. Like several low castes in various parts of India, the Vaḻḻuvan [வள்ளுவர்] have produced a widely popular poet, Tiruvaḻḻuvan [திருவள்ளுவர்], who is said to have married into a Veḻḻāḻan [வேளாளர்] family. It is conjectured that the sacerdotal functions of this caste were superseded by those of the Brāhman, when the latter found his way into the Dravidian region. Now, besides their employment by the castes above mentioned, the Vaḻḻuvan [வள்ளுவர்] have to look to astrology and herbalistic medicine for their living, and here they enjoy the custom and confidence of far higher castes. In some villages, indeed, the Vaḻḻuvan [வள்ளுவர்] is on the staff, and receives his annual quota of threshed grain from each household. It may be remarked that they do not ever intermarry with the castes to which they act as priests, unless they belong to the pure section.

The Tambaḻa [తంబళ], a small caste of temple-priests in Telingāna [తెలంగాణ], bold almost the rank of Brāhmans, and where they have taken to cultivation are still quite in the upper line. It is said that their name, the local rendering of Tamil [தமிழ்], is due to their having been sent up from the south by the great reformer, Śaṅkarācārya [ஆதி சங்கரர், 8. Jhdt.], to labour on the Coromandel [கோரமண்டல்] coast. As they are mostly worshippers of Śiva [శివుడు], many have joined, it is said, the Liṅgāyat [ಲಿಂಗಾಯತ] community in the inland districts.

The true priests of the latter, however, are the Jaṅgam [ಜಙ್ಗಮ], a caste of considerable influence in the Karnatic [ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ]. It seems to have been called into being to satisfy the desire of the converts of Basava [ಬಸವಣ್ಣ, 12. Jhdt.] to retain priests for their Dravidian forms of worship after they had split from the Brāhmans. In the tracts where Lingvantism is most powerful the Jaṅgam [ಜಙ್ಗಮ] are subdivided into the usual monastic and secular sections. The former, in turn, are either stationary in monasteries, or put in charge of a circle of villages, each of which they visit in turn, imparting doctrine and counsel. In the outlying parts of the Karnatic [ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ], the Jaṅgam [ಜಙ್ಗಮ] is not unfrequently a wandering mendicant of a religious type, living upon doles from every class of the population. The secular Jaṅgam [ಜಙ್ಗಮ], again, is often a trader or money-lender. The Census returns of this caste, though possibly fairly accurate in the aggregate, are defective in detail. In the south Dravidian districts, that is, the term Jaṅgam [ಜಙ್ಗಮ] is used of any Liṅgāyat [ಲಿಂಗಾಯತ], whilst in the north on the contrary, many Jaṅgam [ಜಙ್ಗಮ] are returned as Liṅgāyat [ಲಿಂಗಾಯತ] or as Vīrśaiv [ವೀರಶೈವ] Brāhman. 

A small caste corresponding somewhat to the Vaḻḻuvan [வள்ளுவர்], is found in Gujarāt [ગુજરાત] and the north Dekkan [dakṣiṇa], called the Gāruḍā, which serves the leatherworking castes as priest. In some parts they eat with their clients, but in Gujarāt [ગુજરાત] they are generally superior to the latter in education and physical appearance. From one of their subdivisions it might be surmised that they are the descendants of a superior class driven out of Rājputāna [राजपुतान], like so many others in the west.

The Gāruḍī [गारुडी] of the Marāṭhā [मराठा] country is of a lower type altogether, and belongs to the Māṅg [मांग] caste.

In the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ] , there is one caste requiring notice, the Bharāī [ਭਰਾਈ], which, however, is often returned simply as Sēkh [شیخ]. The Bharāī [ਭਰਾਈ], is the special guardian and ministrant of the shrine of the popular Saint Sakhi Sarvar [سخی سرور / ਸਖ਼ੀ ਸਰਵਰ, 12. Jhdt.], of the Indus. Whether he is, since his canonisation, Muslim or Brāhmanist, it is difficult to judge from the crowds that throng to his tomb; but the Bharāī [ਭਰਾਈ] are of the former creed. They haunt the centre and submontane parts of the Province, and live by conducting pilgrims down to the shrine at Nigāhā [ਨਿਗਾਹਾ], in the Dērajāt [ڈیرہ جات]. It is said that some of the Bharāī [ਭਰਾਈ] have taken to music and call themselves Mīrāsī [ਮਰਾਸੀ]. The only other occupation with which they are associated is circumcision, which rite they perform in supersession of the barber on the lower Indus.

Along the Paṭhān [پٹھان] frontier, there is a body, incoherent and multifarious, which locally arrogates to itself the title of Ulama [علماء], or the learned. The entrance-qualification, however, appears to be only the knowledge by rote of a sufficient number of texts of the Kurān [القرآن] to serve as spells or curses for the practical purposes of life. On the other hand, the term may include the highly educated Maulvī [مولوی] of the city mosque, and the Kazī [قاضي], who may or may not be erudite in the law he administers. It is not, however, a caste, and as a functional body, enjoys as low a reputation for piety as for erudition, and is the subject of many biting proverbs along the frontier.

§ 56, b) Temple-servants (300,500). There are certain castes in almost every part of India, but especially in the south, which are dedicated to offices within the temple other than those of actual worship. They wash the images of the god, deck it with flowers and keep the precincts clean. Most of them have other and more secular avocations, generally connected with leaves or flowers, such as umbrella-making, the preparation of leaf-platters for Brāhmanic festivals and garlands for ceremonial use. 

The caste most widely spread of all thus engaged is the Mālī [माली], or garlandmaker ; but as nearly the whole of the caste is in the present day occupied in gardening or agriculture, it has been reviewed already under the head of special cultivation. In Bengal [বঙ্গ] there is still enough of the traditional work left to justify a separate subdivision to perform it.

In other provinces, too, the growth of flowers and the making of garlands, particularly those for the temple, are the work of special bodies, but they are generally distinct from the Mālī [माली]. Such are the Phūl-Mālī [फूल माली], Phulārī [फुलारी], Hūgār, and the like. It is still necessary to be specially brought up to the trade, lest mistakes be made which would be ruinous. One god has to be decked with flowers which are abhorrent to another; certain flowers, too, are required by convention for certain occasions, and the marriage-coronet must contain the prescribed flowers and no others. The small castes above mentioned are generally found south of the Vindhya [विन्‍ध्य], in connection with the caste of Guraō, which is accredited to certain temples, usually those of Śiva, where the post is permanent and hereditary.

The Guraō also make the leaf platters required for caste-feasts and other banquets on a large scale, a task which in upper India is performed by the Bārī, who, however, does not serve temples.

In the Telugu [తెలుగు] country, the Sātāni does the work of the Guraō and a good deal more, for it appears that this caste was brought into being to aid the propaganda of Rāmānuja [இராமானுசர், 12. Jhdt], its patron. It is associated, therefore, more closely with religion than a mere temple servant, and acts as priest to several other castes in a good position, as well as the lower classes. In contradistinction to the Guraō, the Sātāni is Vaiṣṇava, and those of the caste who are brought up as priests are fairly conversant with the Purānic authorities of their sect. Formerly, the Sātāni called in Brāhmans for their ceremonies, but of late their own priests have come into favour. The Balija [ಬಲಿಜ / பலிஜா ] community generally employ the Sātāni, but those who are redundant in this capacity, take to umbrella and garland making.

The Tulu [ತುಳು] caste of Dēvādiga [ದೇವಾಡಿಗ] is not found outside Kanara [ಕೆನರಾ], and where not engaged in temple service, the caste has taken to cultivation and the lower grades of State service.

The curious transformation of the Barber into the temple servant in Malabar [മലബാര്‍] has been already mentioned, and there are about 8,000 of the Mārayān who combine that duty with the manipulation of the temple drums when required."

[Quelle: Baines, Athelstane <1847 - 1925>: Ethnography (castes and tribes) / by Athelstane Baines. With a list of the more important works on Indian ethnography by W. Siegling <1880 - 1946>. -- Strassburg : Trübner, 1912. -- 211 S. -- (Grundriss der indo-arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde = Encyclopedia of Indo-Aryan research ; II, 5). -- § 56] Gaukler

11.c/d syān māyā śāmbarī māyākāras tu pratihārakaḥ

स्यान्माया शाम्बरी मायाकारस्तु प्रतिहारकः ॥११॥


  • माया - māyā f.: Illusion
  • शाम्बरी - śāmbarī f.: Zauberin


  • मायाकार - māyā-kāra m.: Illusionist
  • प्रतिहारक - pratihāraka m.: Banner

Colebrooke (1807): "A female juggler." ; "A juggler."


Beispiele zu: Götterdiener. -- URL: Schauspieler / Tänzer

12. śailālinas tu śailūṣā jāyājīvāḥ kṛśāśvinaḥ
bharatā ity api naṭāś cāraṇās tu kuśīlavāḥ

शैलालिनस्तु शैलूषा जायाजीवाः कृशाश्विनः ।
भरता इत्यपि नटाश्चारणास्तु कुशीलवाः ॥१२॥

Schauspieler / Tänzer:

  • शैलालिन् - śailālin m.: Schaupieler, Tänzer
  • शैलूष - śailūṣa m.: Schauspieler, Tänzer
  • जायाजीव - jāyājīva m.: von seiner Ehefrau lebend
  • कृशाश्विन् - kṛśāśvin m.: magere Pferde habend
  • भरत - bharata m.: Bharata
  • नट - naṭa m.: Schauspieler
  • चारण - cāraṇa m.: Streuner
  • कुशिलव - kuśilava m.: von schlechtem Charakter

Colebrooke (1807): "Dancers and tumblers." ; "Dancers and mimics."


Beispiele zu: Schauspieler / Tänzer. -- URL:

Abb.: Hindoo Dancing Girl ; Hindoo Dancing Master
[Bildquelle: Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India. -- Manuskript. -- 1837. -- -- Zugriff am 1017-04-15]

Abb.: Mussilman Dancing Girl ; Mussilman Dancing Master
[Bildquelle: Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India. -- Manuskript. -- 1837. -- -- Zugriff am 1017-04-15]

"§ 77. Jugglers and Acrobats etc. (235,800). There are numerous bodies of jugglers, tumblers, snake-charmers and the like, each with a different name, but all connected, at least in upper India, under the general title of Naṭ [नट] or Bāzīgar [بازيگر]. It is difficult to say how far the former is the designation of a caste or of a function. In the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ] , for instance, Naṭ [नट] is usually held to be a caste, and Bāzīgar [بازيگر] the branch of it which takes to juggling and tumbling. In the Gangetic region, again, the Bāzīgar [بازيگر] is a subdivision of the Naṭ [नट], like Badī, Sāpērā, Kabūtarā, denoting different performances.

Naṭ [नट]
[Bildquelle: Tashrih al-aqvam, an account of origins and occupations of some of the sects, castes and tribes of India, 1825 / British Library]

Abb.: A snake-charmer of the Sapera caste.
[Bildquelle: Tashrih al-aqvam, an account of origins and occupations of some of the sects, castes and tribes of India, 1825 / British Library. -- . -- Zugriff am 2017-06-01]

Then, in Bengal [বঙ্গ], the Naṭ [নট] or Nar is a caste of trained musicians and dancers of much higher position and accomplishments, and quite distinct from the nomad of the same name.

Further to the south, there are the Dombar or Dommara, of the Telugu [తెలుగు] country, who are identical with the Kōlhāṭī of the Dekkan [dakṣiṇa], both sharing the occupations and traditions of the Naṭ [नट] of the north. In addition to their acrobatic and similar performances, the greater portion of these communities live by the manufacture of horn articles, by hunting the wild pig and by prostituting their women. They hold themselves above the Dōm [دومي] and village tanner, but almost invariably feed on vermin or carrion. Except in the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ] , their appearance is that of the dark races of the Central Belt, and, indeed, a good many of the clans say that their original home was amongst the Gōṇḍ [गोंड] tribes of the eastern parts of the Central Provinces. There are, necessarily, different grades amongst them and the distinctions are strictly maintained, but most will admit members of higher castes upon payment of a caste-feast or other means of establishing a footing. They are not by any means all criminal, though most are credited with the propensity to break into houses and steal fowls and cattle when the opportunity occurs.

The small section of the Gōpāl, for instance, of the Dekkan [dakṣiṇa], is a notorious cattle-lifter.

In some of the subcastes of Naṭ [नट] only the men perform. In others the women are kept for the tribe, and do not prostitute themselves to outsiders. This, however, is exceptional. In one of the sections, the women are experts in tattooing, and act as professionals in this art for other castes, as the Koraca do in the south. About three fourths of the Naṭ [नट] are Brāhmanists of a low type, with their own special deities and forms of worship. Occasionally they obtain the good offices of Brāhmans, if only to fix the lucky day for their ceremonies. Their jungle origin is indicated in a good many cases by their knowledge of roots and herbs as medicines, together with their possession of secret preparations of repute as aphrodisiacs, love-philters and the means of procuring abortion, for all of which there is a certain and constant demand amongst the better classes."

[Quelle: Baines, Athelstane <1847 - 1925>: Ethnography (castes and tribes) / by Athelstane Baines. With a list of the more important works on Indian ethnography by W. Siegling <1880 - 1946>. -- Strassburg : Trübner, 1912. -- 211 S. -- (Grundriss der indo-arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde = Encyclopedia of Indo-Aryan research ; II, 5). -- § 77]

"§ 75. Mimes etc. (48,000). Owing to the subdivisions of these castes and the uncertainty as to their origin the figures obtained from the Census are probably far from accurate.

The Bahurūpiyā, for instance, or the caste of many faces, is merely a functional body in the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ] , and the caste going by that title is a division of the Mahtam, a hunting caste, which is said to have got the name from the variety of the ways in which it picks up its living.

In the Ganges valley, on the other hand, the Bahurūpiyā [बहुरूपिया] is a sub-caste of the Banjārā [बंजारा], and takes brides from the Naṭ, another gipsy tribe, but gives none in return.

The Mahtam too, are connected with the Labāṇā [ਲੁਬਾਣਾ] of the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ] , so it is not unlikely that the Bahurūpiyā [बहुरूपिया] are really of the latter blood.

This caste stands much higher than the Bhāṇḍ [भांड / ਭੰਡ / بھانڈ], or Buffoon, who plies his trade about the mansions of the great, like the jesters of old, and with even greater freedom of speech. Indeed, the ill-temper of the Bhāṇḍ [भांड / ਭੰਡ / بھانڈ] is proverbial, mainly because of the peculiarly offensive manner in which he gives vent to it. In the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ]  the caste is recruited largely from the Mīrāsī [ਮਰਾਸੀ], whose name is sometimes retained as well as that of the trade.

The Bhavaīō of Gujarāt [ગુજરાત], is an acting caste, and performs comedies at weddings or other festivals before any village audience subscribing for it. The company is often attached to the village, as part of the establishment. They have the tradition of having once held a higher position in the north, but are now a purely local institution, and owing to confusion of nomenclature, perhaps, their full strength has not been recorded.

The Gōndhaḻī of the Marāṭhā [मराठा] country is an itinerant ballad-singer, and dances a special set of figures in honour of a goddess at weddings and private entertainments."

[Quelle: Baines, Athelstane <1847 - 1925>: Ethnography (castes and tribes) / by Athelstane Baines. With a list of the more important works on Indian ethnography by W. Siegling <1880 - 1946>. -- Strassburg : Trübner, 1912. -- 211 S. -- (Grundriss der indo-arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde = Encyclopedia of Indo-Aryan research ; II, 5). -- § 75] Pauker / Trommler

13.a mārdaṅgikā maurajikāḥ

मार्दङ्गिका मौरजिकाः

Paukist / Trommler:

  • मार्दङ्गिक - mārdaṅkika m.: Mṛdaṅga-Spieler
  • मौरजिक - maurajika m.: Muraja-Spieler

Colebrooke (1807): "Players on drums."


Beispiele zu: Pauker / Trommler / Musiker. -- URL:

Abb.: Hindoo Musician
[Bildquelle: Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India. -- Manuskript. -- 1837. -- -- Zugriff am 1017-04-15]

Abb.: Hindoo Musician
[Bildquelle: Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India. -- Manuskript. -- 1837. -- -- Zugriff am 1017-04-15]

"§ 76. Drummers (206,200). The ceremonial drummer of a village or temple has been referred to as usually belonging to one of the resident low castes, and is generally upon the village staff. There are others, however, who are more strictly professional upon this instrument, and wander about for their living.

The Dafālī, for instance, and the Nagarcī, of the Ganges valley, are Muslim, with a sort of religious flavour about their performances. The former expel spirits as well as extorting alms.

The Dhōlī of Rājputāna [राजपुतान], like the Bajānīā [બજનિયા] of Gujarāt [ગુજરાત], are Brāhmanist functional castes, recruited from the village menial and scavenging classes.

The Turāhā blow horns and are only found in Bengal [বঙ্গ]."

[Quelle: Baines, Athelstane <1847 - 1925>: Ethnography (castes and tribes) / by Athelstane Baines. With a list of the more important works on Indian ethnography by W. Siegling <1880 - 1946>. -- Strassburg : Trübner, 1912. -- 211 S. -- (Grundriss der indo-arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde = Encyclopedia of Indo-Aryan research ; II, 5). -- § 76] Klatscher

13.b pāṇivādās tu pāṇighāḥ

पाणिवादास्तु पाणिघाः ।१३।


  • पाणिवाद - pāṇi-vāda m.: Hand-Musiker
  • पाणिघ - pāṇi-gha m.: Hand-Schläger

Colebrooke (1807): "Striking with their hands only." Flötenspieler

13.c veṇudhmāḥ syur vaiṇavikā

वेणुध्माः स्युर् वैणविका


  • वेणुध्म - veṇudhma m.: Veṇu-Bläser
  • वैणविक - vaiṇavika m.: Veṇist, Flötist

Colebrooke (1807): "Players on the flute."

Abb.: Hindoo Musician
[Bildquelle: Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India. -- Manuskript. -- 1837. -- -- Zugriff am 1017-04-15] Vīṇāspieler

13.d vīṇāvādās tu vaiṇikāḥ

वीणावादास्तु वैणिकाः ॥१३॥


  • वीणावाद - vīṇā-vāda m.: Vīṇā-Spieler
  • वैणिक - vaiṇika m.: Vīṇist

Colebrooke (1807): "Players on the lute."

Abb.: "Hindoo Minstrel"
[Bildquelle: Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India. -- Manuskript. -- 1837. -- -- Zugriff am 1017-04-15] Vogelfänger

14.a jīvāntakaḥ śākuniko

जीवान्तकः शाकुनिको


  • जीवान्तक - jīvāntaka m.: Lebens-Beender
  • शाकुनिक - śākunika m.: Vogler

Colebrooke (1807): "A fowler or brird-catcher." Fallensteller

14.b dvau vāgurikajālikau

द्वौ वागुरिकजालिकौ ।१४।

Schlingensteller, Netzsteller:

  • वागुरिक - vāgurika m.: (zu vāgurā f.: Fangstrick, Netz)
  • जालिक - jālika m.: (zu jāla n.: Netz, Schlinge, Falle

Colebrooke (1807): "A hunter using nets."


Beispiele zu: Fallensteller. -- URL:

"§ 79. Hunters and Fowlers (977,600). This is a group which in one direction is merged in that of the lower cultivators and field-labourers, and in the other undoubtedly tends towards that of the petty criminal. The same caste may have a branch in one province entirely devoted to settled village life, whilst in another part of the country it is still in the jungle or nomadic stage.

So far as upper India is concerned, there seems reason to think that most of the hunting castes of the present day take their origin amongst the dark race of the western Vindhya [विन्‍ध्य]. Their own traditions point, as a rule, to north Rājputāna [राजपुतान] as their native country, but as the south is approached, the hills of Mālvā [माळवा] and the west assert their influence, and relationship to the Bhīl [भील] or other Kōl tribe is claimed. 

Several of the tribes take their name from some implement of their trade, usually the net or noose, as in the case of the Vāghrī [باگڙي], Valaiyan and Bāvariyā [बावारिया], and the Phāṇsī-Pārdhī [फासेपारधी], of the west, without any indication of their parentage.

The Bāvariyā [बावारिया] is a particularly varied community. It has all the appearance of Kōl descent, even in the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ] , where it has long been established. Here the caste is said to have come from Mēvāḍ [मेवाड़] and Ajmer [अजमेर]. It is subdivided into three sections, only one of which still gets its living by the noose. Of the rest, one has taken to cultivation, and the other to vagrancy and petty crime. They are all by heredity good trackers, and though foul in their diet, not badly looked upon by their neighbours when they are settled. Along the Jamnā [यमुना], however, their character deteriorates, or more correctly perhaps, has not yet risen to the level it reaches further from its native haunts. It is, however, fairly well Brāhmanised, though it keeps to its own worship. The higher castes are, as usual, admitted on payment of the cost of a feast, or even by eating with the members of the tribe.

One of the subdivisions, the Mōghiyā, is often considered a separate caste, but it seems to be no more than the Central Indian variety of the main body.

The Bāvariyā [बावारिया] of the eastern parts of the upper Ganges valley are apparently quite distinct. They assert Rājput [राजपूत] origin and came from Baisvāṛa [बैसवारा], and employ the Pāṇṛē Brāhman of their former residence. In spite of their dark complexion and non-Āryan appearance generally they are not connected by their neighbours with any of the local hill-tribes, and are received on terms of equality by the peasantry and others.

The Ahēṛiyā, a tribe found both in the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ]  and along the Jamnā [यमुना], is similarly divided. In the north they are hunters and reed-workers and occasionally settle down to life in connection with, but outside, the village community, without any suspicion of criminal tendencies. Along the Jamnā [यमुना], however, their reputation is that of potential burglars under the guise of mat-makers and collectors of jungle produce. They were formerly renowned for the well-planned gang-robberies they effected at long distances from their homes, and like the Bhīls [भील], for the expedition with which a large body could be got together from many different quarters, and melt away imperceptibly as soon as its purpose was served. In the present day, they use the railway, and organise expeditions far away in Bengal [বঙ্গ] and the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ] . The caste is peculiar in having no subdivisions, endogamous or exogamous, and the conversion of one of its members to Islām [اسلام] makes no difference in his social position.

The Bahēliyā is another example of the same name being borne by separate communities. In Bengal [বঙ্গ], the caste is said to be akin to the Bēḍiyā [बेड़िया], mentioned above, and is almost exclusively occupied in hunting and fowling.

In Bihār [बिहार], the Bahēliyā, or Bhūlā, is called a sub-caste of the Dōsādh, but will not hold social intercourse with the latter.

In the Ganges valley, again, this caste is said to belong to the Pāsī [पासी], whilst in the west, it is affiliated to the Bhīl [भील], and is claimed as kin by the Ahēṛiyā. In spite of their occupation of fowling, they are not amongst the impure, and though unattached to most of the ordinary Brāhmanic forms of worship, they observe the orthodox festivals and employ the village Brāhman for their own sacrifices. Comparatively few of them are Muslim. So many are now resident in villages that they are no longer to be counted amongst the nomad tribes.

The same may be said of the Mahtam, a hunting caste of the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ] , chiefly found in the Satlaj [ਸਤਲੁਜ] valley. Only a section of them still live by their traditional use of the noose, and the others are settled cultivators and labourers, with a good reputation for industry and quiet behaviour. Portions of both sections have changed their religion to Islām [اسلام] or the Sikh creed [ਸਿੱਖੀ], but preserve withal much of their original habits.

There is another community of the same name in the submontane tract of the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ] , which seems to be a branch of the Banjārā [बंजारा] or Labāṇā [ਲੁਬਾਣਾ] caste, and to have made its way from the east, whereas the hunting Mahtam reached the Satlaj [ਸਤਲੁਜ] from Rājputāna [राजपुतान]. There is thus no connection between the two.

One other caste of the Vindhya [विन्‍ध्य] belongs to this group, namely the Sahariyā, of Bundelkhand [बुंदेलखंड] and the neighbourhood. It is said to derive its title from the Savara [ସଵରା], a name now reserved to a tribe of the south Orissa [ଓଡ଼ିଶା] hills, but applied by Sanskrit writers to any of the Dasyu tribes of the Central Belt. Beyond a common darkness of colour and similarity in feature, there is no link between the two traceable in the present day. The Sahariyṣ do not wander about the country more than is necessary to give them a good supply of the jungle produce which they live by selling, and their criminality is confined to petty thefts and an occasional gang-robbery. The caste seems to be subdivided on totemistic lines into a number of exogamous sections. They profess Brāhmanism, but worship chiefly their local demons without the intervention of Brāhmans. There is no tradition amongst them of having immigrated from any other part of the country.

The other side of the Vindhya [विन्‍ध्य] presents but few hunting tribes, and those mostly of northern origin.

The Vāghrī [باگڙي] of Gujarāt [ગુજરાત], who are apparently the Baghri [बाघरी] of Central India, say that they are kinsfolk of the Saṅsiyā of the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ] , and came from north Rājputāna [राजपुतान]. They are now, however, naturalised in the west. In that part of the country they are subdivided according to function, and, where they are numerous, according to geographical sections which do not intermarry. They are still great hunters and bird-snarers. In the latter capacity, they have struck out a new and lucrative line of business with the Jain [जैन] and other Vaniā [वनिया], who set a very high value upon animal life.

The Vāghrī [باگڙي] makes his catch of birds, takes them in cages to the house of the trader, and there offers to kill them or let them be ransomed, knowing that the merit to be acquired by the latter process will outweigh the cost in the mind of the orthodox. They also keep fowls, and rent fruit and other productive trees by the year, selling the crop. Most of them wander during the fair season, but a good many have settled down near villages. They have their own priests or clan-elders (Bhūvā), who perform their ceremonies and regulate the caste generally. The Vāghrī [باگڙي], though not quite in the ranks of the criminal castes, has a bad reputation among villagers for theft. In the north Dekkan [dakṣiṇa], indeed, this caste is credited with a good deal of the crime against property, but it is not certain that the sub-castes which operate in that region are not from Central India. Linguistic evidence seems to indicate a Gujarātī [ગુજરાતી] origin, but, as stated above, this peculiarity is found in the dialects of tribes far separated from that province.

The Phāṅsī-Pārdhī [फासेपारधी], however, or snarers of bird and beast, seem to be really a branch of the Vāghrī [باگڙي] who have made their home in the Marāṭhā [मराठा] country, where they are occasionally found in the capacity of village watchmen.

Up to a certain point all the hunting castes in the Dekkan [dakṣiṇa] assert their origin to have been in the north. After that, the corresponding castes claim to have come up from the south.

The Bēraḍ or Bēḍar have been classed with the watchmen, and so have the Tamil [தமிழ்] castes now so engaged; but there seems reason to think that all these castes are connected in some way or another with the Vēḍan [வேடன்], Valaiyan, Veṭṭuvan and similar bodies, the majority of which belong to the hunting or fowling order. What the connection really is has not yet been ascertained.

There is, however, a sub-caste of Ambalakkaran bearing the name of Vēḍan [வேடன்], and the whole body claims to be descended from a Vēḍan [வேடன்], and the Valaiyan say that this same hero was the founder of their caste also.

The Veṭṭuvan hold their heads higher, and add the title Veḻḻāḻan [வேளாளர்] to their caste-name, saying that they were imported by the Kongu Chiefs to assist them in the conquest of Kērala [കേരളം].

The Vēḍan [வேடன்] say they were originally natives of Ceylon, and the Veṭṭuvan worship Kaṇḍi-amman, the goddess of Kandy [கண்டி], as well as their seven Kannimar, or tribal deities, worshipped also by the Īrula [இருளர் / ഇരുളർ], a more primitive tribe.

The Veṭṭuvan of the interior, again, are distinct from the caste in Malabar [മലബാര്‍] bearing the same title.

Another small hunting caste in Malabar [മലബാര്‍] is the Kuṛiccan, confined chiefly to the Vaināḍ [വയനാട്]. The former stand higher than the latter, though both are jungle-haunters. The Kuṛiccan, too, have the same abhorrence of contact with the Brāhman that the Paṛaiyan [பறையர்] have, and worship a tribal god of their own. It would seem, therefore, that except in the west, these castes are more settled and likely to rise in position than any of those found in the north, and that the members or families which continue to follow the traditional occupation are being gradually relegated to sub-castes below the general level of the rest."

[Quelle: Baines, Athelstane <1847 - 1925>: Ethnography (castes and tribes) / by Athelstane Baines. With a list of the more important works on Indian ethnography by W. Siegling <1880 - 1946>. -- Strassburg : Trübner, 1912. -- 211 S. -- (Grundriss der indo-arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde = Encyclopedia of Indo-Aryan research ; II, 5). -- § 79] Fleischer

14.c/d vaitaṃsikaḥ kauṭikaś ca māṃsikaś ca samaṃ trayam

वैतंसिकः कौटिकश्च मांसिकश्च समं त्रयम् ॥१४॥


  • वैतंसिक - vaitaṁsika m.:
  • कौटिक - kauṭika m.: Betrüger
  • मांसिक - māmsika m.: Fleischer

Colebrooke (1807): "A vender of flesh-meat," "Selling the flesh of beasts or birds."


Beispiele zu: Fleischer. -- URL:

"§ 62. Butchers (701,800). No such credit, however, is attached to the sale of meat, which, naturally, is chiefly in the hands of a flesh-eating community like the Muslim. It is not to be supposed, from this that Brāhmanists are universally either vegetarians or fish-eaters. Customs differ in this respect in different parts of the country and amongst different castes. Beef and pork, indeed, are eaten by none but the lowest of the community, but in the middle classes, especially in the Dravidian country, the consumption of mutton and goat is considerable, though the mediation of a professional salesman, except in the towns, is comparatively rare. In Vedic times, the Ārya were apparently accustomed to eat meat, and acquired the vegetarian habit as they got acclimatised to the tropics.

Nowadays, the only butcher caste not Muslim is the Khaṭīk [खटीक], and this community, though breeding pigs in the north, only slaughters sheep and goats, the skins of which are tanned by its household.

In the south, the Khaṭīk [खटीक] is merely the professional title of the Muslim mutton butcher.

Abb.: Badhak or Qassab, the caste of butcher.
[Bildquelle: Tashrih al-aqvam, an account of origins and occupations of some of the sects, castes and tribes of India, 1825 / British Library. -- . -- Zugriff am 2017-06-01]

The Kasāī [قصائی], or Qasāb [قصاب], of upper India is almost exclusively Muslim, and in the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ] is merely a functional branch of the Tēlī [ਤੇਲੀ], or oilman. Further east there are subdivisions, and that which deals in mutton holds itself above the beef-butcher. This last is, of course, anathema to the Brāhmanic world, and in some places is “boycotted” by tradesmen, so that it is obliged to make its purchases through the intermediary of one of the lower Brāhmanic castes."

[Quelle: Baines, Athelstane <1847 - 1925>: Ethnography (castes and tribes) / by Athelstane Baines. With a list of the more important works on Indian ethnography by W. Siegling <1880 - 1946>. -- Strassburg : Trübner, 1912. -- 211 S. -- (Grundriss der indo-arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde = Encyclopedia of Indo-Aryan research ; II, 5). -- § 62] Lohnarbeiter, Tagelöhner

15.a/b bhṛtako bhṛtibhuk karmakaro vaitaniko 'pi saḥ

भृतको भृतिभुक्कर्मकरो वैतनिको ऽपि सः ।१५।


  1. भृतक - bhṛtaka m.: Lohndiener
  2. भृतिभुज् - bhṛti-bhuj m.: Lohnempfänger
  3. कर्मकर - karma-kara m.: Arbeiter
  4. वैतनिक - vaitanika m.: Lohnarbeiter, Tagelöhner

Colebrooke (1807): "A hireling ; a servant or labourer."


§ 1. —Bengal [বঙ্গ].

The Dakshin Radhi Kāyasthas of Bengal [বঙ্গ] claim, as a matter of honor, to have the right of serving as menials to Brahmans. As a matter of fact, the Kāyasthas are very well-to-do people, and have too much pride to stoop to domestic service. Even the slave Kāyasthas of Eastern Bengal [বঙ্গ] are now trying to give up such service, and to he on the same level with the other Kāyasthas. In Bengal [বঙ্গ] the nine clean Sudra castes mentioned in page 224, ante, are generally considered by the aristocratic Hindus as most eligible for domestic service. The Kansaris and the Sankharis who, properly speaking, belong to the mercantile caste, are held eligible also for similar employment. The Sadgopas, being included among the clean Gopas, are regarded as clean Sudras, and are held to be entitled to the same honor. The Shekra, Sutar, and Kaibarta are regarded as clean castes in some places, and unclean in others. The Teli and the Goala, though included among the Nava Sayakas, are not in practice regarded as clean everywhere. However, generally speaking, the Navasayakas with the Kansari, Sankhari, Sadgopa, Shekra, Sutar and Kaibarta may be, and are usually, employed as domestic servants in all Hindu families in Bengal [বঙ্গ].

§ 2. —N. - W. Provinces and Behar.

Kahar. —This caste derives its name from the Sanskrit word Skandhakara, which means one who carries things on his shoulders. The primary occupation of this caste is carrying litters. But there are several sub-castes among them, and while some of these practise their proper profession, the others are either boatmen, fishermen, grain parchers, basket-makers, or weavers. The most important sub-castes of the Kahars are the Rawani and the Turah. The Rawanis are to be found in large numbers in every town of Northern India. They serve as litter carriers, punka-pullers, scullions, water-carriers and personal attendants. In every well-to-do family there is at least one Rawani to serve as the “maid of all work.” The Turahs, who are boatmen and fishermen, are to be found chiefly in Behar and N.-W. Provinces. They have some colonies in Bengal [বঙ্গ], in the ancient towns of Dacca [ঢাকা] and Nadiya, and in the market town of Shah Ganj near Hooghly, founded by Azim Oshan, the grandson of Aurangzebe, who was for some years the Governor of Bengal [বঙ্গ]. The Turahs of Bengal [বঙ্গ] have, however, formed themselves into a separate caste, and the fact that they are a branch of the Kahar caste is not even known to them. Of the Rawanis very few are domiciled in Bengal [বঙ্গ]. Those found in this part of the country are chiefly natives of Gaya, who come every year in the beginning of the winter season, and go back to their native home in June or July, or when they deem it convenient.

No class of Kahars can be said to have the right of being regarded as clean Sudras. The fishing classes are certainly unclean, and they are treated as such. Although the Rawanis do not catch fish, yet even they ought not to stand in a better position. A great many of them are in the habit of drinking spirits, and eating field rats and even pork. But it is difficult to get more trustworthy and obedient servants, and the necessity of Hindu families has made them a clean caste. No good Brahman, however, officiates as a priest for the performance of a religious ceremony in which a Kahar is concerned . The Kahar’s priest is treated as a degraded Brahman, and his Guru or spiritual guide is usually an ascetic. Most of the Rawanis are worshippers of Siva and Kāli, and there are very few Vishnuvites among them. They have great reverence for the shrine of Kāli near Calcutta. Those of them who come to Calcutta never fail to give a puja there, and even in the districts remote from Calcutta, their usual cry, when they take a litter on their shoulders or drop it, is, Jai Kali Calcuttawali.*

* The name of Calcutta is supposed by many to be derived from the shrine of Kāli. But there can be very little doubt as to its having a very different derivation. The word Kol, which literally means ‘lap,’ is usually used to denote the open ends of the alluvial formations which are formed on the sides of the rivers of Bengal [বঙ্গ] by the deflection of their currents. The Kols, so long as they exist, are used as natural harbours. But the peninsulas surrounding them are, after some years, cut through by changes in the course of the river. The place is then called Kata Kol or Kolkata, literally “a lap cut. open.” There are many riparian villages in Bengal [বঙ্গ] which are called Katakol. The name of Calcutta is clearly formed by the union of the same component words in a different way.

The Kahar population of India is as stated below: —

N. -W. Provinces ... 1,208, 530

Bengal [বঙ্গ] ...   621,176

Dhanuk. —The Dhanuks are a clean Sudra caste found chiefly in Behar. In all probability they were originally slaves. The superior castes will take a drink of water from their hands, and the Maithila Brahmans minister to them as priests. They are usually employed as domestic servants.

Amat. —The Amats are a clean caste. They are divided into two sections, one of which is called Gharbait, and the other Biahut. The Gharbaits live by practising agriculture, while the Biahuts usually serve as domestic servants. The two sections do not intermarry. The Maithila Brahmans minister to both as priests.

§ 3. — The Servant Castes of the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ].

The castes that in the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ] are usually employed by the Hindu aristocracy as domestic servants are the following: —

  1. Jhiwar.        
  2. Kirat.     
  3. Jat.        
  4. Kambo.
  5. Kora.
  6. Salariya.

The proper profession of the Jhiwar is the catching of fish; but in the Panjab [ਪੰਜਾਬ] they are not on that account regarded as unclean, and, in fact, are generally the only men in their country who serve as water-carriers. The Hindu Kambos claim to have come from Afghanistan. The Mahomedan Kambos call themselves the descendants of the old Kai sovereigns of Persia.

§ 4. — The Servant Castes of the Telugu country.

The castes held eligible in the Telugu country for employment as domestic servants are the following: —

  1. Mangli ... Barber.
  2. Chakli ... Washerman.
  3. Idiya ... Brewer.
  4. Golla ... Cowherd.

§ 5. — The Servant Castes of Maharashtra and Central Provinces.

The castes usually employed by the higher classes of the Hindus in the Maharatta country and in the Central Provinces are the inferior Maharattas and the Kunbis. In the Central Provinces the aboriginal Gonds, though they eat beef and are regarded as unclean, are yet employed as domestic servants for such kinds of work as do not require the touching of drinking water.


The domestics who do menial work in Anglo-Indian households are recruited from low class Mahomedans and the very lowest class Hindus. An up-country Brahman or Ksatriya may be found to do the work of a gate-keeper or orderly in the house of an Englishman, but will never do any work that must compel him to touch his master’s plates, dining table, clothes or shoes. If a high caste and orthodox Hindu accidentally touch any of these things, he will neither enter his cook-room nor eat any food without washing away the contamination by bathing. The plates containing cooked meat are an absolute abomination to a good Hindu, and the very sight is shocking to him. According to orthodox Hindu notions, the dining table itself remains unfit to be touched even when the plates are taken off. But in this respect the prejudices of all classes of Hindus are fast wearing off, and not only Hindu officials but independent Hindu gentlemen may in these days often be found sitting by the side of an Englishman’s dining table, and afterwards drinking water or chewing pan without bathing or change of dress. Such being the case, the high caste Hindu peons and orderlies have not at present the same amount of objection to touch their master’s furniture that they had formerly. But even at the present they will not, either for love or money, touch their master’s shoes or clothes, or have anything to do with the arrangement of his furniture and bedding. 

In Hindu households, a poor Brahman may do the work of a cook; but under no circumstances will a Brahman or a Rajput do such menial service as is fit only for Sudras and low castes. Almost the only kind of work which a high caste Hindu will do in an English household is that of a letter carrier or door attendant for announcing the presence of visitors.

With regard to the caste of the other classes of domestics in Anglo-Indian households, it may be observed, generally, that the Mahomedans have the monopoly of such as appertain to the stable. Even in Hindu households, the coachmen and the footmen are always followers of Islam. The cooks, scullions and butlers are either Mahomedans (or Aracanese) or Madrasis of the low castes called Paria and Tiyan. The punka-pullers are either Goalas of Orissa or Kahars of Behar. Oriyas and Kahars are employed also as farashes for wiping off the dust from the furniture, and for cleansing and lighting the lamps. The washerman is the Hindu Dhobi, Vannan or Agasia; while the scavengers and the nightsoil men are all usually of such aboriginal tribes as are called Hari, Methar, Churha, &c.

In Calcutta the Oriya is the maid of all work in European households in every department except the kitchen and the stable; but it is said that the Madrasi Paria and Tiyan are still more pliant and useful than the cowherds of the land of Jaganath."

[Quelle: Bhattacharya, Jogendra Nath: Hindu castes and sects : an exposition of the origin of the Hindu caste system and the bearing of the sects towards each other and towards other religious systems. -- Calcutta : Thacker, 1896. -- S. 309 - 314]
"§ 68. e) Domestic servants (698,800). The majority of the castes which traditionally engage in service about the houses of those above them belong, as already stated, to the fishing and porter communities, whose touch does not contaminate.

The households of the Christian or Muslim, again, are on a different plane, and must be served by Muslim or members of the impure castes.

The water-bearers, too, who ply in the streets or from house to house, irrespective of caste, are usually converts to Islām [اسلام], or of the fisher caste. If the former, they are known generally as Bihiṣtī [भिश्ती / بهِشتی], and form a caste of their own, with functional subdivisions, according to the water-bag they use or the beast of burden they employ.

In some parts of India, again, there is a caste which lives by rice-pounding for large families, a work which elsewhere is done by the women of the family. The small community of Kūtā, in Rohilkhand [रोहिलखंड], and of Gōlā, in Gujarāt [ગુજરાત], are examples of these, but both are probably branches of some larger body, the Kūtā, perhaps, of the Banjārā [बंजारा], and the Gōlā certainly of a Rājputāna [राजपुतान] caste.

The castes which distinctively belong to the group under consideration, however, are those which have grown up under the protection of the households they serve, and in most cases are in practice inseparable from them. The Rājput [राजपूत] families, for instance, used to receive the daughters of lower castes around them, bring them up in domestic servitude, and practically own the offspring resulting from the relationship. The link was in some cases closer than in others, and the males were allowed to marry outside the household, especially in the Dravidian region. But the bastards usually became a caste by themselves, living on the bounty of their protector and employed in duties about his estate or Court.

The Gōlā and Cākar of Rājputāna [राजपुतान] are of this class, though, as just remarked, some of the former have moved south and set up for themselves in Gujarāt [ગુજરાત] as rice-pounders.

The Khavās of the western peninsula are of the same origin and position as the Gōlā, but rank considerably above the latter, and are employed in posts of confidence which give them much influence in the neighbourhood. The girls serve the Rūjpūtnī, and some of them are generally included as part of the dowry when their young mistress is married off.

In Orissa [ଓଡ଼ିଶା], the Khaṇḍāit [ଖଣ୍ଡାୟତ] keep Cāsa [ଚାସ] girls, and the offspring ranks according to the caste of the father, as Khaṇḍāit [ଖଣ୍ଡାୟତ], Kāyasth [କାଯସ୍ଥ], etc., the whole body being known as Sāgirdpeṣā, with endogamous sub-castes determined as above.

In Bihār [बिहार], too, there are corresponding communities which are gradually forming themselves into separate castes.

In Eastern Bengal [বঙ্গ] there is a larger caste of this sort, known by the non-committal title of Śudra or Śudir, or, in some parts of the province as Ghulām [ঘুলাম] or Bhaṇḍārī [भण्डारी]. They are descended from comparatively low castes which sold themselves to the Kāyasth [কাযস্থ], a relationship which, tacitly though illicitly still subsists. The caste is nominally endogamous, though amongst families which are still attached to Kāyasth [কাযস্থ] households intermarriage with members of the latter caste is not uncommon, but the title of Śudra is dropped in the next generation in favour of that of Kāyasth [কাযস্থ].

In the south, the Telugu [తెలుగు] Velama [వెలమ] and landlords of other castes have a similar institution, the results of which are known as Khāsa, or private property, and are crystallising into a caste.

In the south Tamil country [தமிழ் நாடு], the Toṭṭiyan have families on their estates which are already a caste, known as the Parivāram, the members of which cannot marry without the consent of their lord. In this case, however, recruits are taken from Paṛaiyan [பறையர்] and other low castes.

The Kotāri of Kanara [ಕೆನರಾ], also domestic servants in local families, are apparently of the Baṇṭa caste originally, though now severed owing to their connection with the landed interest.

It must be remembered in connection with all these domestic classes that the status of slavery in which they originally dwelt no longer exists; nevertheless, as has been remarked above with regard to the predial serfs, the tie between them and the family they serve retains a great deal of its former character, and is perpetuated voluntarily by both personal attachment to the household and the benefits derived from the protection afforded, and also the general tendency of Indian communities to look upon what has once been as pre-ordained and hereditary. The position they hold is recognised and established, and in their eyes there is nothing to be gained by abandoning it for another, independent but precarious."

[Quelle: Baines, Athelstane <1847 - 1925>: Ethnography (castes and tribes) / by Athelstane Baines. With a list of the more important works on Indian ethnography by W. Siegling <1880 - 1946>. -- Strassburg : Trübner, 1912. -- 211 S. -- (Grundriss der indo-arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde = Encyclopedia of Indo-Aryan research ; II, 5). -- § 68] Hausierer

15.c vārtāvaho vaivadhiko

 वार्तावहो वैवधिको


  • वार्तावह - vārtāvaha m.: Nachrichten-Bringer
  • वैवधिक - vaivadhika m.: Lastträger (zu vivadha m.: Schultertrageholz)

Colebrooke (1807): "A chandler." Lastträger

15. d bhāravāhas tu bhārikaḥ

भारवाहस्तु भारिकः ॥१५॥


  • भारवाह - bhāra-vāha m.: Lastträger
  • भारिक - bhārika m.: Lastler


Colebrooke (1807): "A porter."

Abb.: Mussilman Water Bearer and Female
[Bildquelle: Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India. -- Manuskript. -- 1837. -- -- Zugriff am 1017-04-15]

"§ 45. Fishing, Boating and Porter castes (6,825,400). Of the large and numerous castes which look back to fishing as their traditional occupation comparatively few now exercise that calling as their principal means of subsistence, and these are localised, of course, on the coast and along the larger rivers. Those communities which have abandoned fishing have become, generally speaking, separate subcastes, which regard themselves as superior in position to those who remain faithful to the net. In this process of refinement, the first stage is usually the restriction of the ancestral connection with the water to boating and sea-faring. In the many tracts where fish is not a staple food among the masses and where there is an insufficient opening in the boat and ferry line, the fisher castes took to the porterage of such burdens as can be conveyed by poles across the shoulder, such as packages and large jars, or travellers by palki [पालकी]. It is probable that in the days when the latter mode of communication was the only alternative to walking or riding it fell to the bearers to provide the means of quenching the thirst of their fare in mid journey. At all events, nowadays, except in South India and the Dekkan [dakṣiṇa], water brought by those castes or subdivisions which no longer catch fish is accepted without cavil by the highest classes. As water is the element above all through which personal contamination can be conveyed, the privileged position thus conferred upon the castes in question became assured, and the next step forward was the admission of the caste into domestic service in the house. This was followed by the recognition of the fisher caste as public cook, to the extent of parching grain and preparing sweetmeats for the community at large, and selling them in shops.

Abb.: Saqqa, a Muslim caste of water-carriers.
[Bildquelle: Tashrih al-aqvam, an account of origins and occupations of some of the sects, castes and tribes of India, 1825 / British Library]

Thus, in the north and east of India to which the above remarks mainly apply, the fisherman basis is found in the Bhadbhunja [भडभुंजा], the Kāndu and the Bhaṭīārā, or cook of the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ] , all of which, with a few others of similar trade, are now, for all practical purposes, entirely distinct castes.

Elsewhere, the separation has been equally exclusive, though manifested only by subdivision of the main caste. The Jāliyā [জালিযা] or Mecho Kaibartta [কৈবর্ত] of Bengal [বঙ্গ], for instance, the chief fishing community of the coasts of that province, stands lower than the Hāliyā [হালিযা], or ploughing division.

The Kōlī [कोली], too, of the west coast, is distinct from the Talabdā, or agricultural section of this caste, and is called Māchī, or fisher, along-side of a separate caste of that name, one of whose main subdivisions is called Kōlī [कोली].

The Bhōī [भोई], again, has two separate sections, the freshwater fisherman and the porter or servant.

The Bōya, of Telingāna [తెలంగాణ], which appears to be the nucleus of the caste, is divided into a village or settled section, which fishes and engages in service and porterage, and a nomad, or hunting section, living by fowling and the sale of jungle-produce.

The same distinctions are found in some form or other among the great fishing castes of the Ganges valley, above the Delta. It seems probable that these all spring from some Kōl tribe of the north Vindhya [विन्‍ध्य], which spread from the hills down the rivers.

A great number of the fisherman are returned at the Census under the general title of Mallāh, which, being Arabic, must have been conferred upon them at a comparatively recent date. Its subdivisions include many who are elsewhere returned under what are usually considered to be distinctive caste titles, such as Tiyar, Mālo, Kēvat and the like, with their endless subsections. One of the castes thus split up, the Pāṭnī [पाटनी], appears to be of a north-Gangetic origin, possibly descended from some sub-Himālayan tribe like the Dōm [دومي].

The Malo, also found principally in north Bihār [बिहार], holds an almost equally low position.

The Tiyar comes between the Mālo and the Jaliya Kaibartta [জালিয কৈবর্ত].

The Kēvat in Oudh [अवध] and Bihār [बिहार], though probably of the same Vindhyan origin as the Mālo and Tiyar, is largely engaged in cultivation, and takes his stand, accordingly, above the sections of the caste which carry loads or engage in domestic service, as well as above those who still live on the river.

In the Central Provinces, the Kēvat has not abandoned the traditional occupation, and is found mainly along the Mahānadī [महानदी] and its affluents. There is a colony of this caste in east Bengal [বঙ্গ], where, however, they do not catch fish but buy up and retail the haul of the Kaibartta [কৈবর্ত], whom they therefore consider their inferiors. 

Kahār [कहार]
[Bildquelle: Tashrih al-aqvam, an account of origins and occupations of some of the sects, castes and tribes of India, 1825 / British Library]

Above the tract occupied by these castes, the Kahār [कहार], or Dhīmar, is by far the most important of the group, and with it comes the Jhīnvar of the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ] , still higher in position. All these are closely connected both by rank and functions. The latter are numerous and varied. The Kahār [कहार] or Jhīnvar is a valuable member of the permanent village staff, and receives his share of the crops. Though low in relative rank he is pure, to the extent that he can bear water to all, and enter all but the inner penetralia of their houses. Indeed, in parts of Hindustan, one of the subdivisions is called Mahrā, because he is allowed inside even the women’s apartments in the execution of his domestic duties. The Kahār [कहार] is often a cultivator in the east, but to the west, he fishes, sinks wells, makes baskets, carries burdens and above all, provides the water for the refreshment of the peasant in the field. He has a special branch of cultivation under him, to wit, the growth of water-nuts (trapa bispinosa [Trapa natans var. bispinosa (Roxb.) Makino]), in the village tanks. His wife, too, as has been mentioned above, is, the midwife of the Jāṭ [जाट] and Rājput [राजपूत].

Macchi, a Muslim caste of fishermen.
[Bildquelle: Tashrih al-aqvam, an account of origins and occupations of some of the sects, castes and tribes of India, 1825 / British Library. -- -- Zugriff am 2017-06-01]


The Māchī is the counterpart of the Jhīnvar in the west of the Panjāb [ਪੰਜਾਬ]  and performs the same duties, with the exception of carrying burdens, the shoulder-pole and palki [पालकी] not being customary in those parts. There is also a keen demand for his services as village cook, because in the hot weather the village usually gets its meals from a common kitchen or oven. Down the Indus, however, and on the west coast, the Māchī is a fisherman only, and the same may be said of the Mohāno, a lower caste of the Sindh [سنڌ] waters, which is probably an occupational body.

In the Telugu [తెలుగు] country, the Bōya, mentioned above, is probably akin to the Iruḻan, a wild, roving tribe of hunters and haunters of the scrub-jungle of the lower hills.

The more prevalent fishing caste is the Palle, which is said to be a branch of the great labouring caste of Paḻḻi [பள்ளி], further south and included in it. The latter was once subdivided into the Minā, or fishing, and the Vana, or settled, clans, but apart from the barrier of a different language, the dividing line of occupation now leads the field-worker to repudiate the fisher, and not to eat or intermarry with him. 

Another Telugu [తెలుగు] caste, the Besta, is, like the rest, both fisher and cook, and some of its members hold land. They are supposed to be connected with the Karnatic [ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ] Kabbēra, or Ambiga, who, in turn, form a link with the coast castes of the Mogēr and Mukkuvan [முக்குவர்], which go to sea, and the Mugayan, which fish only in the river.

There is a similar distinction between the Tamil [தமிழ்] caste of the Śembaḍavan and their subdivision the Śavaḻaikkāran, the seafarers being reputed to rank higher than the freshwater people. The Śembaḍavan call in the local Brāhman, and the Mogēr make use of the Havīka, but the rest do not trouble the priest of any community other than their own."

[Quelle: Baines, Athelstane <1847 - 1925>: Ethnography (castes and tribes) / by Athelstane Baines. With a list of the more important works on Indian ethnography by W. Siegling <1880 - 1946>. -- Strassburg : Trübner, 1912. -- 211 S. -- (Grundriss der indo-arischen Philologie und Altertumskunde = Encyclopedia of Indo-Aryan research ; II, 5). -- § 45]