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Full text of "The Indian craftsman"

THE INDIAN CRAFTS- 

MAN : BYANANDAK.COOMARASWAMY,D.SC. 

Author of " Mediaeval Sinhalese Art." 
With a Foreword by C. R. ASHBEE, M.A. 



PROBSTHAIN & CO., 

41, GREAT RUSSELL ST., LONDON, w.C. 

1909 



HP 




CONTENTS 



Chap. Page 

FOREWORD v. xv. 

I. THE VILLAGE CRAFTSMAN .. i 

The Village Community " Five Trades " Basis 
of Society Payment of Craftsmen. 

II. THE CRAFT GUILDS OF THE GREAT CITIES . . 7 

Trade Guilds Guilds in Ahmadabad Guilds in 
the Epics Guild Responsibility Guilds in 
Buddhist India. 

III. THE FEUDAL CRAFTSMAN IN INDIA AND CEYLON . . 20 

Kings' Craftsmen King Craftsmen A City 
Rebuilt Feudal Craftsmen in Ceylon Royal 
Builders in Ceylon Temple Craftsmen in Ceylon 
In Southern India Manorial Craftsmen 
Villages of Craftsmen Social Status The 
Kammalar. 

IV. STANDARD AND REGULATION 57 

A Smith's Jurisdiction The Maintenance of 
Standard The Degradation of Standard Free 
Trade and Protection. 

V. RELIGIOUS IDEAS IN CRAFTSMANSHIP . . . . 66 

Noblesse oblige Sva-dharma Karma Good and 
Evil Craftsmen Visvakarma Rhythmic Archi- 
tecture A Craft Ritual in Ceylon Religious 
Endowments Then and Now Civilization. 

VI. EDUCATION .. .. .. .. .. .. 83 

The Hereditary Craftsman The Apprentice 
Simplicity of Tools Leisure Art and Commerce 
The Essentials. 



APPENDICES. 



I. SIR GEORGE BIRDWOOD on the Indian Village Potter. 

II. SIR GEORGE BIRDWOOD on Machinery and Handicraft in 
India. 

III. WILLIAM MORRIS on Commercial War. 
IV. E. B. HAVELL on Craftsmen and Culture. 

V. E. B. HAVELL on the Official Suppression of Indian 
Craftsmanship at the Present Day. 

VI. LAFCADIO HEARN on Craft Gods in Japan. 
VII. LAFCADIO HEARN on Craft Guilds in Japan. 
VIII. SER MARCO POLO on Craft Guilds in China. 
IX. BHIKKU P. C. JINAVARAVAMSA on Craftsmen in Siam. 
X. Municipal Institutions in Ancient India. 
XI. Books recommended to the Reader. 



FOREWORD. 

P\R. COOMARASWAMY'S study of the Indian 
craftsman raises questions of the widest 
and deepest interest, questions that will not only 
give consciousness to modern Eastern thought, but 
help us with some of the most advanced of our 
Western problems. He tells us of a condition of 
life among the eastern Aryans that still exists, and 
he tells it in such a way as to make us feel that 
there is no reason why it should not go on existing. 
Why, we ask, has this custom of the centuries, 
which seems so reasonable in the East, and through 
which the western Aryan once passed, changed in 
one part of the world and not in the other, and 
what are the merits of the change ? 

If we examine our own Western economic history, 
more particularly the history of England, we find 
that the break up of the conditions of English 
craftsmanship and the English village order, cannot 
be traced back beyond the industrial revolution 
of the 1 8th century, and the enclosure of the common 
lands that accompanied it. Fundamentally, with 
us the great change came with the introduction of 
industrial machinery, and the question which forces 



FOREWORD. 

itself upon us, when we look at the picture Dr. 
Coomaraswamy draws, is : What are the benefits 
to our culture of the industrial machinery that has 
acted in this manner ? 

Trained as we are to measure everything by a 
mechanical standard, it is difficult for us to see 
things clearly, to get a correct focus. We are apt 
to forget that our view is biassed, that we attach 
a disproportionate value to the productions of 
machinery, and that a vast number, perhaps 60 
per cent., of these productions are not, as is 
generally supposed, labour-saving, health-giving 
and serviceable to our general life and culture, but 
the reverse. " It is questionable," said John Stuart 
Mill half a century ago, " whether all the labour- 
saving machinery has yet lightened the day's labour 
of a single human being " ; and the years that have 
followed his death seem not only to have further 
borne out his statement, but the people themselves 
who are being exploited by mechanical conditions 
are beginning to find it out. 

For machinery is only a measure of human 
force, not an increase of it ; and it is questionable 
whether, owing to the abuse of machinery, the 
destruction and waste it brings may not equal the 
gain it yields. Wonderful are the great ships, and 
the winged words from one side of the globe to the 
other, wonderful is the consciousness that comes 

vi. 



FOREWORD. 

to us from those things, and from rapid movement, 
and from our power of destruction, but we may 
pay even too high a price for the boon of progress. 
It behoves us to ask, at least, what the price is, 
and if it be a fair one. Perchance, in our thought- 
lessness we have, like the boy in the fairy tale, 
bartered away the cow for a handful of beans ; 
well, there may be much virtue in the beans, but 
was not the cow good too ? A more reasonable 
view of life and the progress of Western civilization 
is making us see that the pitiful slums of our great 
cities are not a necessary corollary to the great 
ships ; that a nicer, saner regulation of industry 
will mean that the rapid displacement of human 
labour, and the misery it brings, may be graduated 
and softened ; that it is not necessary for 30 per 
cent, of the population to die in pauperism, as is 
the case in England at present ; that it is short- 
sighted and unwise to paralyze invention and skill 
and individuality by unregulated machine develop- 
ment, and that our present gauge of the excellence 
in all these things their saleability cannot possibly 
continue to be a permanent gauge. 

It is when Western civilization is brought face 
to face with the results of other cultures, Eastern 
cultures, when the stages of its progress are resumed 
from the points of view of other religions, when 
Japan, for instance, rejects or chooses what she 



Vll. 



FOREWORD. 

needs to make her a fighting force, when India 
seeks to form, out of an imposed educational 
system, a political consciousness of her own ; when 
Persia and Turkey are in the act of creating con- 
stitutions on the Western model, that we in the 
West come to realize that the stages of progress, 
as we understand them, are not obligatory. Some 
of them may be skipped. 

So it is with industry, and the conditions of life 
induced by industrial machinery, much of it may 
be skipped. And it is the continuous existence of 
an order like the Indian village community, which, 
when brought into relation with Western progress, 
seems to prove this. We in the West have passed 
through the condition of the Aryan village com- 
munity. The conditions Dr. Coomaraswamy 
describes in India and Ceylon are very similar to 
the conditions that prevailed in mediaeval England, 
Germany and France ; they did not seem nearly 
so strange to Knox, writing in Stuart times, as they 
do to us. The 500 years that have passed between 
our middle ages and the growth of the great cities 
of machine industry may have proved that the 
destruction of the Western village community was 
inevitable, but it has not proved that where the 
village community still exists it need necessarily 
be destroyed. Indeed, we are finding out in the 
West that if the village tradition were still living 

viii. 



FOREWORD. 

it could still be utilized ; we are even seeking to 
set up something like it in its place. For the great 
city of mechanical industry has come to a point 
when its disintegration is inevitable. There are 
signs that the devolution has already begun, both 
in England and America. The cry of " back to the 
land," the plea for a " more reasonable life," the 
revival of the handicrafts, the education of hand 
and eye, the agricultural revival, the German 
" ackerbau," the English small holding, our technical 
schools, all these things are indications of a need 
for finding something, if not to take the place of 
the village community, at least to bring once 
again into life those direct, simple, human 
and out-of-door things of which mechanical 
industry has deprived our working population. 
These things are necessary to our life as a 
people, and we shall have to find them some- 
how. Dr. Coomaraswamy does well to show how 
they still exist in great measure in the East, and 
it may be that the East, in her wisdom, and with her 
profound conservative instinct, will not allow them 
to be destroyed. She has, as Sir Geo. Birdwood puts 
it, let the races and the peoples for 3,000 years 
come and pass by ; she may have taken this from 
one and that from another, but the fundamental 
democratic order of her society has remained, and 
it appears improbable, on the face of it, that we 

ix. 



FOREWOOD. 

English shall materially change it when so many 
others before us have left it undisturbed. 

Indeed, there seems to be no reason, on the face 
of it, why we should aspire to do so. Some change 
we are certainly bringing, and bringing uncon- 
sciously, but it is a curious and suggestive thought 
that the spiritual reawakening in England, which 
goes now by the name of the higher culture, now by 
the name of Socialism, which has been voiced in 
our time by Ruskin and Morris, which has expressed 
itself in movements like the arts and crafts, or is 
revealed in the inspired paintings of the Pre- 
Raphaelites, demands just such a condition as in 
India our commercialisation is destroying. The 
spiritual reawakening in the West is appealing for 
a social condition in which each man shall have 
not only an economic but a spiritual status in the 
society in which he lives, or as some of us would 
prefer to put it, he shall have a stable economic 
status in order that he may have a spiritual status 
as well. 

It is such a condition that still exists in India, 
where society is organized, as Dr. Coomaraswamy 
shows, upon a basis of " personal responsibility and 
co-operation," instead of, as with us, upon a basis 
of contract and competition. Even if we admit 
that the change in the Aryan of the West from the 
one basis to the other has been necessary in order 

x. 



FOREWORD. 

to produce the conditions of modern progress, the 
scientific results of our civilization, in short, the 
great ships, it may yet be that the spiritual re- 
awakening that is beginning to stir the dry bones 
of our Western materialism may yet leave the 
ancient East fundamentally unchanged, and bring 
us once again into some kindred condition through 
our contact with her. 

In the profoundly interesting address of the 
English artists in 1878, which bore the names of 
Morris, Burne- Jones, Millais, Edwin Arnold, Walter 
Crane and others, there is an appeal to the Govern- 
ment on behalf of Indian Arts and Crafts against 
the effects of English commercialism upon the 
production of Indian craftsmanship. 

" At a time," say the signatories, " when these 
productions are getting to be daily more and more 
valued in Europe, these sources are being dried 
up in Asia, and goods which ought to be common 
in the market are now becoming rare treasures for 
museums and the cabinets of rich men. This result 
seems to us the reverse of what commerce ought 
to aim at." 

But has commerce any aim ? Is it as yet more 
than a blind force ? The experience of 30 years 
has shown that this appeal of the English artists 
might have been as eloquently made on behalf of 
English as of Indian craftsmanship. For, indeed, 

xi. 



i 



FOREWORD. 

the appeal is less against English Governmental 
action than against the conditions imposed upon 
the world by the development of industrial 
machinery, directed by commercialism. Industrial 
machinery which is blindly displacing the purpose 
of hand and destroying the individuality of human 
production ; and commercialism, which is setting 
up one standard only, the quantitative standard, 
the standard of saleability. 

To compass the destruction of commercialism 
and regulate and delimit the province of industrial 
machinery for the benefit of mankind, is now the 
work of the Western reformer. The spiritual re- 
awakening with us is taking that shape. 

It is probable that in this effort of the Western 
artists, workmen, and reformers for the recon- 
struction of society on a saner and more spiritual 
basis, the East can help us even more than we shall 
help the East. What would we not give in England 
for a little of that " workshop service " which Dr. 
Coomaraswamy describes, in place of our half-baked 
evening classes in County Council Schools ? What, 
in our effort at the revival of handicrafts in the 
decaying country-side, for some of those " religious 
trade union villages " of which Sir George Birdwood 
speaks ? 

There has come over Western civilization, in the 
last 25 years, a green sickness, a disbelief, an unrest ; 

xii. 



FOREWORD. 

it is not despondency, for in the finer minds it takes 
the form of an intense spiritual hopefulness ; but 
it takes the form also of a profound disbelief in 
the value of the material conditions of modern 
progress, a longing to sort the wheat from the 
chaff, the serviceable from the useless, a desire to 
turn from mechanical industry and its wastefulness, 
and to look once more to the human hand, to be 
once again with Mother Earth. 

" It behoves us," said Heraclitus, in the time of 
the beginnings of Hellenic civilization, " it 
behoves us to follow the common reason of 
the world ; yet, though there is a common 
reason in the world, the majority live as 
though they possessed a wisdom peculiar each 
unto himself alone." This is so profoundly modern 
that it might almost be a comment upon English 
or American industrialism, did we not know that 
it applied equally to the peculiar intellectual 
individualism of Hellas, which disintegrated and 
destroyed her culture. But the " common reason 
of the world," if the words of Heraclitus are to be 
taken at their face value, includes the reason of 
the East, and with it the social order that has 
stood there unshaken for 3,000 years, and hence 
stood there long before the days of Heraclitus 
himself. 



xui. 



FOREWORD. 

For our immediate purpose, too, the purpose of 
this book, the " common reason of the world " 
includes and defines the Indian craftsman and the 
Indian village community ; it gives them a definite 
and necessary place not only in the Indian order 
of things, not only in the culture of the East, but 
in the world. It shows them to be reasonable and 
right, and it shows them, what is still more 
important, to be the counterpart one of the other. 

Here once more we are learning from the East. 
The English craftsman and the English village are 
passing, or have passed away ; and it is only in 
quite recent times that we have discovered that they, 
too, are the counterpart one of the other. Industrial 
machinery, blindly misdirected, has destroyed them 
both, and recent English land legislation has been 
trying, with allotment and small-holdings acts, to 
re-establish the broken village life. Those of us, 
however, that have studied the Arts and Crafts in 
their town and country conditions, are convinced 
that the Small Holding Problem is possible of 
solution only by some system of co-operation, and 
if some forms of craftsmanship are simultaneously 
revived and added to it. " Speak to the earth and 
it shall teach thee " ; that is an old lesson, and it 
is true not only of England, but of all Western 
countries that have been touched by the green- 
sickness of industrial machinery. With us in the 

xiv. 



FOREWORD. 

West it is the newest of new ideas that the arts and 
crafts and the revival of agriculture are the corollary 
of one another. In India they always appear to 
have thought this, and to have held by the truth- 
I never heard of the god Visvakarma, the god 
of the Arts and Crafts, before I learned of him 
from Dr. Coomaraswamy. But he seems strangely 
like a personification of that Platonic idea of 
abstract beauty which for so many centuries 
has haunted the Western mind. Whether it be 
Plato or Plotinus, Pico della Mirandola or Rossetti, 
ever and again in the great periods of our Western 
development the idea recurs. Who knows, perhaps 
Visvakarma is the god for whom we in the West, 
in our spiritual reawakening, are in search ; possibly 
he can help us ! 

C. R. ASHBEE. 



xv. 



" The hand of a craftsman engaged in 
his craft is always pure." Manu. 

" Those that are craftsmen of the people are 
welcome over all the wide earth." Odyssey. 

" All these trust to their hands : 

And everyone is wise in his work. 

Without these cannot a city be inhabited." Ecclesiasticus. 



CHAPTER I. 

THE VILLAGE CRAFTSMAN. 

T NDIAN 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 VILLAGE COMMUNITY. 

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 washer- 
man. Others may be the barber-surgeon, messenger 
and scavenger, astrologer, or dancing girl. It will 
be seen that not all of these are technically crafts- 
men, 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 poemf 
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. 

" Both for the weddings and funerals of Rajas, 
Brahmans, cultivators, merchants, S'udras 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, trimmmg the face and adorning it 

* See Appendix i. 

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



THE FIVE TRADES. 

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 Mahavamsa that the heads 
of the five trades were chosen as messengers to 
carry a welcome from Kitti Sirimegha to his son 
Parakrama, afterwards Parakrama Ba.hu 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 villages, the craftsmen and menial 
servants formed a guild or institution, regulating 
the customary duties and remuneration of the 
craftsmen and servants, and called bar a 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 



BASIS OF SOCIETY. 

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 

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. 

* 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. The village was governed by an 
assembly (sabha or mahasabha), 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. 



PAYMENT OF CRAFTSMEN. 

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. 

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 district 
of the Punjab, 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."* Thus, in 

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



PAYMENT OF CRAFTSMEN. 

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."* 

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. f 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 crafts- 
men of the village. 



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

P. 158. 

t Baden-Powell, loc. cit., p. 17. 



CHAPTER II. 

THE CRAFT GUILDS OF THE GREAT CITIES. 

^THE typical Hindu village consists exclusively of 
husbandmen ; but as husbandry and manu- 
facture 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 
pc ly technical 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 of interests would naturally draw 
together the skilled immigrants of these cities in 
trades unions ; the bonds of which in India, as was 



TRADE GUILDS. 

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, 
literally ' great gentlemen. 5 Nominally it is com- 
posed of all the freemen of the caste, but a special 
position is allowed to the seths, 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. 

11 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 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 

8 



TRADE GUILDS. 

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, or City Lord of Ahmedabad, is 
the titular head of all the guilds, and the highest 
personage in the city, and is treated as its repre- 
sentative 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 'lord of the market.' . . .The funds of 
the guilds of Western India, where they prevail 
chiefly among the Vaishnavas and Jainas of Gujarat, 
are for the greater part spent on charities, and 
particularly charitable hospitals for sick and help- 
less domestic animals : and in part also on the 
temples of the Maharajas of the Wallabhacharya 
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."* 

The guilds likewise regulated the hours of labour, 
and the amount of work to be done in their 

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



TRADE GUILDS. 

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 excel- 
lence 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 

10 



GUILDS IN AHMADABAD. 

from the theocratic conceptions which have governed 
the whole organisation of social life in India, and 
it is incontrovertible that the unrestricted develop- 
ment of the competitive impulse in modern life, 
particularly in the pursuit of personal gain, is 
absolutely antagonistic to the growth of the senti- 
ment of humanity and of real religious convictions 
among men."* 

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 brick- 
layers in Ahmedabad could not find work. Men of 
this class sometimes added to their daily wages by 
rising very early in the morning, and working over- 
time. 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. f . . . The trade-guild or caste 

* Sir George Birdwood, loc. cit., p. 139. 

f 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 

II 



GUILDS IN AHMADABAD. 

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."* 

The following abbreviated details of the organisa- 
tion of the Guilds in Ahmadabad are taken from 
the Imperial Gazetteer of India, Vol. V., p. 101 : 

" In consequence of the importance of its manu- 
factures of silk and cotton, the system of caste or 
trade unions is more fully developed in Ahmedabad 
than in any other part of Gujarat. 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 

Work " Conference at the Guildhall, of December, 
1908, one of the resolutions passed and afterwards 
laid before the Prime Minister, included a condemna- 
tion 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. 

12 



GUILDS IN AHMADABAD. 

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 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 Ramayana, describing 
the procession of citizens who went out into the 

13 



GUILDS IN THE EPICS. 

forest with Bharata in search of Rama. 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 Rama ; 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 Balarama and the king's champions. 

" 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 

* Quoted by Wilson, Vishnu Pur ana, Vol. V., p. 
27. 

14 



GUILDS IN THE EPICS. 

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 

15 



GUILD RESPONSIBILITY. 

out decorative work set as tasks by their 
sovereign." * 

Another interesting mention of craftsmen in 
procession is found in the Mahavamsa, where we 
are told that following the officials in the annual 
Perahera at Kandy, 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 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 Tan j ore 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 

* Sana's ' Harsha Carita,' Trans, by E. B. Cowell 
and F. W. Thomas, p. 124. 
| See also Appendix VII 

16 



GUILD RESPONSIBILITY. 

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 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."* 

The manner in which the shepherds as a guild 
bound themselves jointly as security for an in. 
dividual 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 at Tanjore, 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 re- 
ceived 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, 

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



GUILDS IN BUDDHIST INDIA. 

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 Jatakas 
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 Jataka, however, it is stated that to the 
king's treasurer was given also the judgeship of 
" all th guilds " (sabbaseninam). " Before that," 
says the Jataka, " no such office existed, but there 
was this office ever after." In the Uraga Jataka, 
a guild quarrel (senibhandana) is mentioned, between 
two men in the king's service, who were heads of 
guilds (seni-pamukha).* Such evidence belongs, 
however, to the period of redaction of the Jatakas 
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 

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

18 



EARLY REFERENCES. 

merchant community.* 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 (grahapati) 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. f 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. 

In slightly later literature the existence of guilds 
is more clearly indicated. In the Dharma sutras 
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) 
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.f 

* Pick, " Indien zu Buddha's Zeit t " pp. 172-177. 
f Fick t loc. cit., p. 172. 



CHAPTER III. 

THE FEUDAL CRAFTSMAN IN INDIA AND CEYLON. 

I ET 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, 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 Raja 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 " Mabin- 
ogion." When Kilhwch 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 

20 



KINGS' CRAFTSMEN. 

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."* 

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 

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

21 



KINGS' CRAFTSMEN. 

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."* 

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 foot- 
steps one by one, we come to the time of the great 
Moghal Emperors in the North. From the Ain-i- 
Akbari or Institutes of the Emperor Akbar, 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 main- 
tained 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 

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

22 



KINGS' CRAFTSMEN. 

in the palace, and classified according to date, value, 
colour and weight. He had also jewellers and 
damasceners, inlay ers 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 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 

23 



KINGS' CRAFTSMEN. 

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 Musal- 
man puritanism did not, as a matter of fact, injure 
^ndian 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 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 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 

24 



KINGS' CRAFTSMEN. 

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 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 con- 
tinued 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 extra- 
ordinary 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 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 ; 

25 



KING CRAFTSMEN. 

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 Jataka, 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 

26 



KING CRAFTSMEN. 

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 Mahavamsa. " 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." 

For other instances of royal craftsmanship, we 
may turn to the Arabian literature. Sir Richard 
Burton, speaking of the conversation between the 
fisherman and the Caliph in the tale of Nur-al-din 
Ali and the Damsel al-Jalis, says : 

" Most characteristic is this familiarity between 

27 



KING CRAFTSMEN. 

the greatest man then in the world and his pauper 
subject. The fisherman alludes to a practice of 
Al-Islam, instituted by Caliph Omar, that all rulers 
should work at some handicraft in order to spare 
the public treasure. Hence Sultan Mu'Ayyad of 
Cairo was a calligrapher who sold his handwriting, 
and his example was followed by the Turkish 
Sultans Mahmud, Abd-al-Majid and Abd-al-Aziz."* 

Another royal craftsman is spoken of in " The 
Three Princes of China "f ; the Shaykh's indepen- 
dent point of view is especially noteworthy. The 
tale is not, of course, historical, but reflects an idea 
which evidently appeared quite reasonable to the 
audience. 

A certain Sultan fell in love with a Badaw girl 
who was standing with the Shaykh her father 
considering his retinue. After returning to his 
palace, the Sultan sent for her father, and asked 
the girl in marriage. The Shaykh, however, 
answered : " O, our Lord the Sultan, I will not give 
up my daughter save to one who hath a handicraft 
of his own, for verily trade is a defence against 
poverty, and folk say : Handicraft an it enrich not 
still it veileth (poverty)." The Sultan remonstrated : 
' O, man, I am Sovran and Sultan, and with me 

* " Arabian Nights," Vol. II. 

t Burton, Supplemental Nights, V. 222. 

28 



A CITY REBUILT. 

is abundant good " ; but the Shaykh replied, " O, 
king of the age, in king-craft there is no trust." 
Whereat the Sultan " presently summoned the 
Shaykh of the mat-makers and learnt from him 
the craft of plaiting, and he wove these articles of 
various colours, both plain and striped." 

So much for princely craftsmen in the East. 

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 
Bahu to his father, Parakrama Bahu II. , who reigned 
in the thirteenth century. It relates to the re- 
building 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, 

29 



A CITY REBUILT. 

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, gold- 
smiths, 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 ; 

30 



FEUDAL CRAFTSMEN IN CEYLON. 

all these ... did he send unto his royal 
son."* 

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 washer- 
men, the servants, the potters, and weavers, and 
the craftsmen proper, viz. : the carpenters, gold- 

* Mahavamsa, Ch. LXXXVIIL 



FEUDAL CRAFTSMEN 

smiths, 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 genera- 
tion, 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 gleba, 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 re- 
marked 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). 

32 



IN CEYLON. 

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 " work- 
shops 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 crafts- 
men 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 Raja Simha, ... as Marukona Ratna 
Abharana Vedakaraya reported himself at the 
palace, orders were given to make certain pieces of 
jewellery required for the royal dress ; and when 

33 



FEUDAL CRAFTSMEN 

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 Korale, in the Disavanaya of 
Matale 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 Abharana 
Vedakaraya, to be possessed without any disturbance 
or hindrance during the existence of the Sun, the 
Moon, Kandy and the Mahaveli river." 

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

" When the king of kings, Sri Sanghabo Sena- 
sammata Vikrama Bahu,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 Acharilla Dityaya and his son Sivanta 
Dityaya to paint thereon the likeness of Buddha 
seatjd on a Vajrasana 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 Netra Pinkama, his 
hands having been washed [ceremonial purification 

34 



IN CEYLON. 

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 hills 
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 Nirvana. 

" In this tenor the royal decree was issued, and 

35 



FEUDAL CRAFTSMEN 

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\it. Artifi- 
cers' Department one of the Fourteen Departments 
of Public Works under the Kandyan kings) differed 
fron 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 Vidane, 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 

36 



IN CEYLON. 

chief over all the smiths and carpenters in 
Cande Uda."* 

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

I. 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. 

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

37 



FEUDAL CRAFTSMEN 

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 Gadaladeniya Devale (temple) in 
Ceylon, had to supply a silver ring for the " festival 
tree," and repair the golden insignia for use at the 

38 



IN CEYLON. 

perahera (annual festival and procession) ; put up 
and decorate booths on the same occasion ; supply 
a measure of oil for the Karti 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 ios.). 

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 black- 
smith ; clean the palanquin and cressets for the 
perahera ; 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 Vihara (Buddhist 
temple) held 4} acres of land. His services (com- 
mutable for Rs. 10.35) were "to give at New Year 
one piece of pottery ; for the ceremony of sprinkling 

39 



ROYAL BUILDERS 

milk, two pots ; one yoke load of pottery on the 
I5th of the month of Bat ; 63 Karti lamps on the 
I5th of the month of II ; four pots and four dishes 
on the I5th of Durutta 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 viharas ; and to tile the two viharas (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 meri- 
torious work might be his very own, and not 
anybody else's. Thus also we read of the builder 
King Duttha Gamani, in the second century B. c., 
that when setting about the building of a great 
monastery called the Brazen Palace, that 

" The generous Raja, 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." 

40 



IN CEYLON. 

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 . . . 



ROYAL BUILDERS. 

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 [Gangarama Vihara, Kandy] : 

" Kirti Sri Raja Simha . . . caused a vihara 
to be made containing stone walls of thirteen cubits 
in length, seven in breadth, and eleven in height, 
surroanded 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, 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). 

42 



TEMPLE CRAFTSMEN. 

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 Dalada Maligava, the great 
Buddhist temple in Kandy, 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 

43 



TEMPLE CRAFTSMEN 

the crafts bound up with the temples, so much 
occupied were the craftsmen, whether royal crafts- 
men 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., at Mihintale, in Ceylon. The inscrip- 
tion 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 

* Mahavamsa, Ch. L. : " And he [Sena I., 1389- 
1409 A.D.] built, as it were by a miracle, a great 
vihara at Arittha-pabbala, and endowed it with great 
possessions, and dedicated it to the Pansakulika 
brethren. And he gave to it also royal privileges and 
honours, and a great number of keepers for the garden, 
and servants and artificers." 

44 



IN CEYLON. 

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)."* 

Again, in the Jetavanarama 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 ascer- 
tained, 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 

* Wickremasinghe, " Epigraphia Zeylanica" Vol. 

/., p.p III, 112. 

45 



TEMPLE CRAFTSMEN 

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 
varikas, 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 modern social 
problems of the Western craftsman, alluded to in 
Mr. Ashbee's foreword. 



* See Thorold Roger's " Six Centuries of Work 
and Wages" pp. 46, 179, 1 80. To draw any detailed 
comparison with the social conditions in mediaeval 
Europe would, however interesting, have been beyond 
the scope of the present volume. 

46 



IN SOUTH INDIA. 

Some inscriptions of Raja Raja (A.D. 985-1018) 
at the great Tanjore (Tafijavur) temple in Southern 
India, give interesting details of craftsmen attached 
to the temple, recalling the records of the establish- 
ment at Mihintale above referred to. One inscription 
refers to the produce of land assigned to temple 
servants before the 2gth year of the king's reign. 
Besides the lands assigned to a large number of 
devadasis (400), there were : 

" For one man belonging to the potters (kusavar) 
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 Surasikhamani, six 
shares." 

" To the jewel-stitcher . . . one and a half 
share." 

" For one brazier (kannari), one share." 

" For one master carpenter (taccacarya), 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), by 
selecting one man and letting him do the work, to 
. . . the superintending goldsmith of the minor 
treasures of the > Lord Sri-Raj a(rajad)eva, one 
share."* 

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

47 



MANORIAL CRAFTSMEN. 

(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 always 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 Paldeniya, 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 35. 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. 

48 



VILLAGES OF CRAFTSMEN. 

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 con- 
ditions. In the Suci Jataka, for example, we get a 
picture of just such a village of craftsmen : 

" The Bodhisatta was born in the kingdom of 
Kasi, 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."* 

In another Jataka, the Alinacitta Jataka, 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 

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

49 



VILLAGES OF CRAFTSMEN. 

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."! 

The Pali Jatakas 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 modern times in Ceylon, 
where we find, for example, smiths' villages and 
potters' villages, where all or nearly all the in- 
habitants 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 estab- 

f Loc. cit., No. 156. For potters, see the Kumbh- 
akara Jataka. 

50 



SOCIAL STATUS. 

lished 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, hinajati), while the basket 
makers, potters, weavers, leather-workers and 
barbers are said to be of the lesser trades (hina 
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 Sudras 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 

51 



SOCIAL STATUS. 

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 in Southern India 
claim a social status equal or superior to that of 
Brahmans ; 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 complain- 
ing to his friend Mitrananda. "At this moment a 
native of the place, a merchant, Ratnasagara by 
name, came into that temple. The merchant asked, 

52 



SOCIAL STATUS. 

' Why are you two distracted by grief ? ' MitrS- 
nanda 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 Mitrananda 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 
Sopara, named Suradeva.' Mitrananda said : ' I 
will go to that city.' Then Amaradatta said : 
' Without you I cannot support my life.' Then 
Mitrananda crossed the sea, and went to the city 
of Sopara. 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. Mitrananda 
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 Pataliputra ; this 
is the model of it.' Mitrananda 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 

53 



SOCIAL STATUS. 

Ratnamarijari, the daughter of King Matrasena in 
Ujjayini, and is not the product of my own artistic 
invention.' When Mitrananda heard this, he said : 
' I will come to you again in an auspicious moment ' ; 
and thereupon he journej^ed to Ujjayini."* 

The rest of the story, relating the manner in 
which Mitrananda won the fair lady for his friend, 
does not concern us here ; suffice it to say, that in 
the end " Amaradatta made Mitrananda head of 
his cabinet, Ratnamanjari was the jewel of his 
harem, and the merchant Ratnasagara 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 Kalaviya, 
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, f 

In the Kandyan provinces, there existed a larger 
number of such villages, and also villages wholly or 
partly occupied by goldsmiths and other superior 

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

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

54 



KAMMALAR. 

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. The following account of these crafts- 
men is partly based on a paper by Dr. Pulney Andy 
in No. 50, " Journal of Indian Art and Industry." 

The kammalar are descendants of Aryans who 
entered India across the Panjab in early times j 
when they were known as Visva or Deva Brahmans 
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 kammalan is guru to the world. 5 ' 
They still have their own priests, and do not rely 
on Brahmans ; 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 

55 



KAMMALAR. 

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 work- 
men, 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. 

* So also in North Jaipur, carpenters worked not 
only in wood, but in stone, or metal, including gold, 
as might be required of them. Col. Hendley, Indian 
Jewellery, p. 153. 

56 



CHAPTER IV. 

STANDARD AND REGULATION. 

O OBERT KNOX, 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 interest- 
ing 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 

57 



A * SMITH'S JURISDICTION.' 

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 

* Cf. Appendix VII. 

58 



STANDARD. 

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 hall- 
marking 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 con- 

59 



MAINTENANCE 

sidered 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 com- 
mercial 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 panas. . . . 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." 

60 



OF STANDARD. 

So also Yajnavalkya, 1360 : 

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

Let us examine a few instances of these com- 
mercial 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 con- 
sisted 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 imme- 
morial.* 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, or Institutes of Akbar (sixteenth 
century), in the chapter dealing with the duties of 
the Kotwal, or City Officer. 

* Vincent Smith, " Early History of India," Ed. 

IL, p. 125. 

61 



DEGRADATION 

" 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."* 

To this day the citizens of Srinagar 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 manufac- 

* Ayeen Akbery, F. Gladwin, 1800. 
62 



OF STANDARD. 

tured article. In the good days of the shawl- trade 
no spurious wool was brought in from Amritsar 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-mache and copper-work have to bend 
to the times and supply their customers with cheap, 
inferior work. Ask an old artist in papier-mache 
to show the work which formerly went to Kabul, 
and he will show something very different from the 
miserable trash which is now sold. But the Pathans 
of Kabul paid the price of good work ; the visitors 
to the valley want cheap work, and they get it."* 

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

" Formerly, ... a great industry in gold 
embroidered shoes flourished at Lucknow. They 
were in demand all over India, for the native kings 
of Oudh 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, and the 

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



FREE TRADE AND 

Lucknow shoemakers were swept away for ever by 
the besom of free trade. "t 

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 

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



PROTECTION. 

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. 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 under- 
stood 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. 



CHAPTER V. 

RELIGIOUS IDEAS IN CRAFTSMANSHIP. 

FHERE is another kind of provision in Easter] 

society tending to secure the maintenance c 

standard in the crafts. I allude to the caste systerr 

some aspects of which we must consider. Withou 

here speaking of the origin and general significanc 

of caste, it will suffice to say from our point of viev 

that it represents a legal recognition of the natun 

division of society into functional groups. Theon 

tically, there are four castes only, the Brahmat 

or learned caste ; the Kshattriya, or warriors an 

statesmen ; the Vaisya, or traders, cultivators an 

craftsmen ; and the Sudra, craftsmen and servant 

Much subdivision and multiplication of cast< 

has taken place, so that there are large numbers < 

widely distributed, but self-contained communiti 

in India, whose members do not inter-marry or e; 

together. Caste is hereditary, that is to say, evei 

man is, and must remain, of the caste into whi< 

he is born, and this is true even if he should lea- 

the special occupation which is the traditional wo 

of his caste. There is a certain connection betwe< 

66 



NOBLESSE OBLIGE. 

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 re- 
ligious 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. 



SVA-DHARMA. 

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 

* C/., the saying of the Tamil poetess Auvvai, 
" What is acquired without wrong-doing is wealth." 

68 



KARMA. 

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, 
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 accom- 
plished, 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 

69 



GOOD AND EVIL CRAFTSMEN. 

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 crafts- 
man'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 I 
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.f 

* Appendix VI. 

f In this connection, it is interesting to quote from 
so modern a work as Baha u'llafts ' Words of Paradise" 

70 



VISVAKARMA. 

Hindu craftsmen in certain parts of India 
" worship " the implements of their labour at the 
Dasahra 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, making offerings of sweetmeats 
to them.t In Gwalior, in the modern State work- 
shops, the workmen prepare models of trains, 
machinery, etc., on which they have been engaged 
and pay honour to these at the Dasahra festival. 

There is a God of the arts and crafts, whose name 
is Visvakarma, 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 

the following pronouncement : "It is incumbent on 
every one of you to engage in some employment such 
as arts, trades, and the like. We have made this, 
your occupation, identical with the worship of God, 
the True God" Compare with this conception of a 
man's life-work the following modern teaching of the 
Soto School of Buddhists in Japan : " Not only the 
building of a bridge or the provision of a ferry-boat is 
a work of charity, but so are all forms of benefiting life, 
commercial and industrial." Rep. Third Int. Con. 
Religions, Oxford, 1908, /., pp. 324, 153. 

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



VISVAKARMA. 

important guild or caste of craftsmen, claim to be 
descended from the five sons of this deity, of whom 
one was a blacksmith, the second a carpenter, the 
third a founder, the fourth a mason, and 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 Srimahavajrabhairava- 
tantra, translated from the German version of 
Griin \vedel* : 

" 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."f 

* " Mythologie des Buddhismus," p. 102. 

f Interesting, though unfortunately abbreviated, 
details of the ritual preparation of the painter or 
imager for his work are given by Foucher, 
' L "1 cono graphic Bouddhique de /' Inde? //., pp. 7-14. 

72 



VISVAKARMA. 

The Indian craftsman conceives of his art, not 
as the accumulated skill of ages, but as originating 
in the divine skill of Visvakarma, 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. t 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 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 clothes 

The subject, however, belongs rather to the domains of 
art-philosophy and mysticism than to that of the 
craftsman, socially considered, f Cf-> Appendix VI. 

73 



RHYTHMIC ARCHITECTURE. 

worth a thousand pieces, a splendid pair of slippers, 
and twelve thousand pieces of money.* 

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 
Maharaja of Bhavnagar. 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. 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."t 

The science of house building, says the Brihat 
Samhita, " has come down to us from the. Rishis 
(sages), who obtained it from Brahma." 

* Mahavamsa, Ch. XXX. 
t Sir George Watt, " Indian Art at Delhi." 
74 



A CRAFT RITUAL. 

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 redecora- 
tion 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 

75 



A CRAFT RITUAL 

the new image, or to the artists, found accommoda- 
tion 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 
vihara 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 and Vishnu, 
and the erection of altars to the regents of the 

76 



IN CEYLON. 

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 Deviyo, 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 offer- 
ings, 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 

77 



A CRAFT RITUAL 

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-con- 
secration, " Hail, O ye Ganges, Godavari, Sarasvati, 
N armada, Indus, and Kaveri, 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 vihara, 
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, repeat- 
ing Sanskrit charms, sprinkled the people with 
water. The patron and the people then made 

78 



IN CEYLON. 

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 remunera- 
tions 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 pint 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 them- 
selves, 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 Kammalar 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 

79 



RELIGIOUS ENDOWMENTS. 

of Brahmans. Otherwise, they would be classed 
as " good Sudras," 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 
vihara 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 

80 



THEN AND NOW. 

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 un- 
appreciated ; and now, like so many other descen- 
dants 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 
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 

81 



CIVILISATION. 

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 ! 



82 



^CHAPTER VI. 

EDUCATION. 

T HAVE spoken more than once of the " hereditary 
craftsman," a phrase justified by the hereditary 
fixity of social function under the caste system. 
But it is worth while to consider the point in greater 
detail. It is often assumed that the skill of the 
" hereditary craftsman " depends upon the direct 
inheritance of his father's individual skill. But this 
skill is an acquired character, and it is almost 
universally agreed by scientists that there is no 
such thing as the inheritance of an acquired 
character ; a man who loses one leg does not have 
one-legged children ; a man who learns to play 
well on the piano does not transmit that skill ; nor 
can the craftsman transmit his acquired capacity 
for carving wood or chasing metal. On the other 
hand, of course, if it be supposed that large groups 
of craftsmen are descended from a common ancestor 
who originally possessed innate artistic genius (a 
different thing from actual skill in handicraft), it 
may be argued that this capacity is inherited, and 

83 



THE HEREDITARY CRAFTSMAN. 

this would be the case. Personally, I should be 
inclined to attach little value to the likelihood of 
the actual existence of such an ethnically superior 
race of craftsmen ; one would think, indeed, that 
the absence of selection and elimination in an 
hereditary caste might lead rather to degeneration 
than to a preservation of standard. As a matter of 
fact, all these considerations are of small weight 
beside the question of education and environment* 
conditions of supreme importance, and implicit in 
the expression " hereditary craftsman " as ordinarily 
used. The important facts are these : the young 
craftsman is brought up and educated in the actual 
workshop, and is the disciple of his father. No 
technical education in the world can ever hope to 
compensate the craftsman for the loss of these 
conditions. In the workshop, technique is learnt 
from the beginning, and in relation to real things 
and real problems, and primarily by service, 
personal attendance on the master. And it is not 
only technique that is learnt ; in the workshop 
there is life itself, that gives to the pupil both 
culture and metaphysics, more essential to art than 
technique itself ; for what use is it to speak well 
if you have nothing worth saying ? I have been 
struck, in contrast, by the inefficiency of the great 
Technical Schools in London, the pride of the 
County Council. Their watchword, like that of the 

84 



THE HEREDITARY CRAFTSMAN. 

British in the East, is indeed efficiency ; but this 
means that the Professor is hauled up before a 
committee if he is late in attendance, not that his 
personality is a first consideration.* It means, too, 
that he is expected to be intensely practical, and to 
go through some curriculum leading to certificates 
and prizes ; woe betide him if he should waste time 
in giving to his pupils a metaphysic or teaching 
them mediaeval romance. Small wonder that the 
pupils of these schools have so little to say ; they 
cannot, indeed, put more into their work than there 
is in themselves. But in speaking of the Eastern 
system of craft education, I used the term disciple 
advisedly ; for in the East there is traditionally a 

* In this exaltation of administrative ability over 
creative gifts, which are much rarer and more precious, 
our institutions share the weakness which pervades our 
industrial establishments, where the manager or super- 
intendent usually gets larger pay and is regarded as 
more important than the most expert craftsman. In 
both we see the same striving for a certain sort of 
efficiency and economy of operation, and for the attain- 
ment of a completely standarised product. This tends 
in both cases to the elimination of individuality and 
to sterility. . I would that there might be dis- 

played in the administrative offices of every institution 
of higher education this testy remark, once made by 
an eminent scholar : " You cannot run a university 
as you would a saw-mill ! " 

Address by Prof. F. L. Nicholls to the American 
Association for the Advancement of Science, 1908. 
Nature, January i<\th, 1909. 

35 



THE HEREDITARY CRAFTSMAN. 

peculiar relation of devotion between master and 
pupil, and it is thought that the master's secret, 
his real inward method, so to say, is best learnt by 
the pupil in devoted personal service ; and so we 
get a beautiful and affectionate relation between 
the apprentice and the master, which is impossible 
in the case of the busy professor who attends a 
class at a Technical School for a few hours a week, 
and at other times, when engaged on real work, 
and dealing with real problems, has no connection 
with the pupils at all. 

The master need not be the boy's father ; he may 
be an elder brother, or even unrelated ; but in any 
case, once chosen, he is the ideal of the pupil, from 
which he never wavers. There are often trade 
secrets, simple enough it may be, but valuable as 
much in the idea as in the fact ; these the master 
reveals to the faithful pupil only after many days, 
and when he has proved himself worthy. Devotion 
and respect for the teacher remain throughout life ; 
I have seen a man of thirty receive wages in the 
presence of an elder brother, his teacher, and hand 
them to him as the master with the gentlest possible 
respect and grace ; and as gently and delicately 
they were received, and handed back, waiving the 
right to retain ; and this same elder brother had 
an aged father, a great craftsman in his day, and 
he never returned home with wages without offering 

86 



THE APPRENTICE. 

them to him in the same way. I have seen few 
things in East or West more suggestive of entire 
gentleness than these expressions of reverence for 
the teacher. I need not point out what a perfected 
instrument for the transmission of a living tradition 
such an education forms. And if, to return to the 
Technical School of to-day, one may make a 
suggestion, it would be this : that supposing the 
aim be to train up a generation of skilled and 
capable craftsmen, it were better to appoint living 
master craftsmen as the permanent servants of the 
community, endowed with an inalienable salary, or 
better, a house, and demand of them that they 
should carry out the public works undertaken by the 
community, and that they themselves should keep 
apprentices, choosing out of them one to be their 
successor in the position of Public Craftsman. Such 
a system would do more to produce skilled crafts- 
men, and to produce good work, than would twice 
the money spent on Technical Schools and on com- 
petitive design for great undertakings.* 

There are few, if any, places in India where 
the traditional methods of instruction are main- 
tained in every detail. But a brief account of the 
system as surviving in Ceylon, almost to the present 

* See A. /. Penty, "Restoration of the Guild 
System " ; and C. R. Ashbee, " Craftsmanship in 
Competitive Industry" Campden, 1908. 



THE APPRENTICE. 

day, may be useful here. We may suppose that a 
young boy, son of a caste craftsman, has been 
apprenticed to, or is the son of a younger brother 
of the master and teacher. His attitude is one of 
discipleship and deep respect. If not a relation, he 
has been brought to the craftsman's home, with 
presents of betel leaves and perhaps an offering of 
money or cloth, and given into the master's charge. 
During his years of instruction he will live with 
and be fed and clothed by his master and teacher, 
and when at last his education is complete, be given 
the last secrets of the art and perhaps some heirloom 
or gift of a design drawn by a famous painter 
generations back. 

The boy is given first a wooden panel, primed 
with a preparation of iron slag, quart sand, coconut- 
shell charcoal, tamarind seed, and the leaves of 
Eclipta erecta. Upon this panel he learns to draw, 
using as pencil a sea urchin spine or a piece of 
pointed wood. 

It is of interest to note that this method of 
instruction is so far practically identical with the 
method of drawing on a primed panel, prescribed 
for beginners by Cennini.* 

The forms drawn upon the panel are certain 
peculiar curves, gradually elaborated into very 
complex studies in applied ornament. Drawing 

* See translation by Mrs. Merri field, London, 1894. 
88 



THE APPRENTICE. 

from nature is never taught. After the hand and 
eye and memory have been trained in the use of 
the fundamental curves in this fashion, traditional 
ornament, repeating patterns, and the like are 
taught, then mythical animals and designs with men 
and beasts in them. The pupil is also taught to use 
the brush, and assists his master in practical work 
in temples, at first by grinding the colours and 
general personal service, then by priming the 
surfaces, applying a ground colour, and by preparing 
and taking care of brushes and pigments, and lastly, 
by filling in outlines sketched in by the master for 
completion by the pupil. Experience is thus gained 
in practical work. There is nothing dilettante about 
the young craftsman's education. It begins early 
and is exceedingly thorough. 

While it is in progress he has, in addition to his 
ordinary education, to learn by heart various 
Sanskrit works on art, with their meaning. These 
technical works, composing what is called the Silpa 
Sastra, or " science of the arts," describe various 
kinds of images, the characters of mythical animals, 
the measurements of images and buildings, the 
kinds of jewellery proper for kings, the proportions 
of various tools and utensils. 

A point of interest is the extreme simplicity of 
the craftsman's tools and methods. The painter's 
brushes, for example, are made of the awns of 



SIMILE OF TOOLS. 

various grasses, of squirrels' hair, of roots, or fibre, 
and he is always able to replace them or modify 
them at need. The repousser's tools he makes him- 
self to suit the work in hand, and he does not 
hesitate to make a new tool out of an old one for 
a special purpose. The value of this simplicity lies 
in the fact that the craftsman relies upon himself 
rather than upon his tools, and at the same time 
is completely master of them, adapting them 
exactly to the requirements of the moment. So 
with the pigments and mediums. There is no 
mystery, and success depends on thoroughness and 
patience rather than on any secrets of the trade. 

It would be easy to give further details of 
technique and methods here, but the purpose of 
the present work being rather to portray the 
craftsman than to describe his work, the reader is 
referred for such details to such works as " Mediaeval 
Sinhalese Art," by the present author, " Industrial 
Arts of India," by Sir George Bird wood, " Indian 
Art at Delhi," by Sir George Watt, and the pages 
of the " Journal of Indian Art and Industry." It 
may also be remarked that Mr. Percy Brown, 
Director of the School of Art in Lahore, has there 
collected a valuable series of exhibits illustrating 
the traditional methods of instruction in the various 
crafts still, or until recently, practised in the district. 
It is of the utmost importance that further work 

90 



LEISURE. 

of this kind should be undertaken before it is too 
late. While anthropologists and sociologists are 
busy studying savage tribes, there is much of the 
organized life of the ancient civilizations slipping 
away for ever, which it is of far more importance to 
study and record. 

To conclude with the craftsman himself : perhaps 
there is nothing more striking about his position in 
society, whether as a villager, a guildsman, or a 
feudal servant than this the assurance of his 
position, and the assurance of his purpose and 
value. It is only in the absence of anxiety as to the 
immediate future, that that quality of leisure so 
characteristic of true works of art and craft can 
appear in them. The serenity and dignity of his 
life are things which we cannot overlook, as Sir 
George Birdwood says, if we are rightly to under- 
stand the Indian craftsman. 

" 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 organization ; while Nature provides him with 
everything to his hand, but the little food and less 
clothing he needs, and the simple tools of trade. 
.... This at once relieves him from an in- 
calculable dead weight of cares, and enables him 

91 



ART AND COMMERCE. 

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. "f 

The craftsman had this leisure for thought, and 
even for dreaming, and his economic position made 
him secure against oppression or want. He had no 
need to accumulate wealth, and we do not find that 
the wage asked by the traditional craftsman in 
unspoilt districts to-day represents more than a 
bare living for self and family. 

Too often we forget that industry, per se, is of 
little or no value to humanity, if the results are 
valueless. But the true craftsman will often work 
overtime if he is interested. I have had Sinhalese 
craftsmen who insisted on working by lamplight far 
into the night. But the same craftsmen demand 
the right on other occasions to come and go at their 
will, and it would be quite vain to expect any 
particular piece of work done within a fixed time. 
The artistic and the commercial methods are thus 
radically different ; and the artistic result cannot 
be attained on commercial lines, nor vice versa. 

The current rate of wages for all depended much 
more on the general cost of living than on the degree 
of skill required for this special craft or the other. 

f Sir George Birdwood, " Industrial Arts of 
India. 11 

92 



THE ESSENTIALS. 

The craft was much more a " calling " than a trade, 
and to this day Sinhalese craftsmen care more for 
congenial work, and personal appreciation, than for 
money payments. And as we have seen, in the most 
typical cases, the craftsman received no money wage 
at all, but was repaid in other ways. Many a British 
workman would be glad to exchange his money 
wage for such security and appreciation as belonged 
to the Sinhalese craftsman of a hundred years ago. 
Presents, indeed, were expected, even grants of 
land, but these \vere for faithfulness and excellence ; 
not a payment at so much a yard or so much an 
hour for such and such kinds of work. For the work 
was art, not commerce, and it would have been as 
idle to demand that a carpet like the Ardebil carpet 
should be designed and made at so much per square 
foot, as to expect Academy pictures to be done in 
the same way ; indeed, I think it would be more 
reasonable to sell these by the square yard, than to 
suppose that the works of the Mediaeval Eastern 
craftsman could be valued in such a way. 

If now, in conclusion, we endeavour to sum up 
the results to which we are led by this study of the 
Indian craftsman, and by a correlation of his position 
in society with that of the craftsman in periods of 
good production in the Western world, and in other 
parts of Asia, we find that no really great traditional 
art has ever been produced, except under the 

93 



THE ESSENTIALS. 

following conditions : Freedom of the craftsman 
from anxiety as to his daily bread ; legal protection 
of the standard of work ; his art not exploited for 
profit. These are the material conditions ; even 
more important is that spiritual conception of the 
serious purpose of art, which we find expressed in 
the work of true craftsmen of whatever age or 
place, but perhaps more in India than anywhere 
else. In other words, it has only been when the 
craftsman has had the right to work, the right to 
work faithfully, a right to the due reward of his 
labour, and at the same time a conscious or sub- 
conscious faith in the social and spiritual significance 
of his work, that his art has possessed the elements 
of real greatness. And so we can hardly avoid the 
conclusion that these will always be conditions 
necessary for the production of fine art and craft. 



94 



LIST OF APPENDICES. 



I. SIR GEORGE BIRDWOOD ON THE 
INDIAN VILLAGE POTTER. 

II. SIR GEORGE BIRDWOOD ON 
MACHINERY AND HANDICRAFT IN 
INDIA. 

III. WILLIAM MORRIS ON COMMERCIAL 

WAR. 

IV. E. B. HAVELL ON CRAFTSMEN AND 

CULTURE. 

V. E. B. HAVELL ON THE OFFICIAL 
SUPPRESSION OF INDIAN CRAFTS- 
MANSHIP AT THE PRESENT DAY. 

VI. LAFCADIO HEARN ON CRAFT GODS IN 
JAPAN. 

VII. LAFCADIO HEARN ON CRAFT GUILDS 
IN JAPAN. 

VIII. SER MARCO POLO ON CRAFT GUILDS 
IN CHINA. 

IX. BHIKKU P. C. JINAVARAVAMSA ON 
CRAFTSMEN IN SIAM. 

X. MUNICIPAL INSTITUTIONS IN 
ANCIENT INDIA. 

XL BOOKS RECOMMENDED TO THE 
READER. 



95 



APPENDIX I. 

SIR GEORGE BIRDWOOD ON THE INDIAN VILLAGE 
POTTER. 

'"~pHE 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 round the rim, and put in motion by the hand ; 
and once set spinning, it revolves for five or seven 
minutes with a perfectly true and steady 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 hands 
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 

97 



THE VILLAGE POTTER. 

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 
field 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 4 and 5 a year. Altogether, 
he earns between 10 and 12 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, 
at marriages ; and at the dowra, or village harvest- 

Q8 



THE VILLAGE POTTER. 

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 organization village life there is no 
man happier than the hereditary potter, or kumbar. 
"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 owe altogether the hereditary 
cunning of the Hindu handicraftsman. It has created 
for him simple plenty, and a scheme of democratic 
life, in which all are co-ordinate 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 vigour all over the 
peninsula. Scythian, Greek, Saracen, Afghan, 
Mongol and Maratha have come down from the 
mountains, and Portugese, Dutch, English, French 
and Dane up out of its seas, and set up their 
successive dominations in the land ; but the re- 
ligious trade union villages have remained as little 



99 



THE INDIAN CRAFTSMAN. 

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 
inchangeable for 3,000 years, Macedonian, Mongol, 
Maratha, Portugese, English, French and Dane of 
no more account to him than the broken potsherds 
lying round his wheel." 



1 Industrial Arts of India,' 1880. 

100 



APPENDIX II. 

SIR GEORGE BIRDWOOD ON MACHINERY AND 
HANDICRAFT IN INDIA. 

"\A7HAT is chiefly to be dreaded is the general 
introduction of machinery into India. We 
are just beginning in Europe to understand what 
things may be done by machinery, and what must 
be done by hand-work, if art is of the slightest 
consideration in the matter. 

" But if, owing to the operation of certain 
economic causes, machinery were to be gradually 
introduced into India for the manufacture of its 
great traditional handicrafts, there would ensue 
an industrial revolution which, if not directed by 
an intelligent and instructed public opinion and 
the general prevalence of refined taste, would 
inevitably throw the traditional arts of the country 
into the same confusion of principles, and of their 
practical application to the objects of daily 
necessity, which has for three generations been the 
destruction of decorative art and of middle-class 
taste in England and North- Western Europe, and 
the United States of America. 

" The social and moral evils of the introduction 
of machinery into India are likely to be still greater. 

101 



MACHINERY 

At present the industries of India are carried on 
all over the country, although hand-weaving is 
everywhere languishing in the unequal competition 
with Manchester and the Presidency Mills. But in 
every Indian village all the traditional handicrafts 
are still to be found at work. 

" Outside the entrance of the single village street, 
on an exposed rise of ground, the hereditary potter 
sits by his wheel moulding the swift revolving clay 
by the natural curves of his hands. At the back of 
the houses, which form the low, irregular street, 
there are two or three looms at work in blue, and 
scarlet, and gold, the frames hanging between the 
accacia trees, the yellow flowers of which drop fast 
on the webs as they are being woven. 

" In the street, the brass and coppersmiths are 
hammering away at their pots and pans, and 
further down, in the verandah of the rich man's 
house, is the jeweller working rupees and gold 
mohrs into fair jewellery, gold and silver ear-rings, 
and round tires like the moon, bracelets, and 
tablets, and nose-rings, and tinkling ornaments for 
the feet, taking his designs from the fruit and 
flowers around him, or from the traditional form 
represented in the paintings and carvings of the 
great temple, which rises over the grove of mangoes 
and palms at the end of the street above the lotus- 
covered village tank. 

102 



AND HANDICRAFT. 

" At half -past three or four in the afternoon the 
whole street is lighted up by the moving robes of 
the women going down to draw water from the 
tank, each with two or three water-jars on her 
head ; and so, while they are going and returning 
in single file, the scene glows like Titian's canvas, 
and moves like the stately procession of the Pan- 
athenaic frieze. 

" Later, the men drive in the mild grey kine from 
the moaning plain, the looms are folded up, the 
coppersmiths are silent, the elders gather in the 
gate, the lights begin to glimmer in the fast-falling 
darkness, the feasting and the music are heard on 
every side, and late into the night the songs are 
sung from the Ramayana or Mahabharata. 

" The next morning with sunrise, after the simple 
oblations and adorations performed in the open air 
before the houses, the same day begins again. This 
is the daily life going on all over Western India in 
the village communities of the Dekhan, among a 
people happy in their simple manners and frugal 
way of life, and in the culture derived from the 
grand epics of a religion in which they live and 
move, and have their daily being, and in which the 
highest expression of their literature, art, and 
civilization has been stereotyped for 3,000 years. 

" But of late these handicraftsmen, for the sake 
of whose works the whole world has been ceaselessly 

103 



MACHINERY 

pouring its bullion for 3,000 years into India, and 
who, for all the marvellous tissue and embroidery 
they have wrought, have polluted no rivers, 
deformed no pleasing prospects, nor poisoned any 
air ; whose skill and individuality the training 
of countless generations has developed to the highest 
perfection, these hereditary handicraftsmen are 
being everywhere gathered from their democratic 
village communities in hundreds and thousands into 
colossal mills of Bombay, to drudge in gangs for 
tempting wages, at manufacturing piece goods, in 
competition with Manchester, in the production of 
which they are no more intellectually and morally 
concerned than the grinder of a barrel organ in the 
tunes turned out from it. 

" I do not mean to depreciate the proper functions 
of machines in modern civilization, but machinery 
should be the servant and never the master of 
men. It cannot minister to the beauty and pleasure 
of life, it can only be the slave of life's drudgery ; 
and it should be kept rigorously in its place in 
India as well as in England. 

" When in England machinery is, by the force 
of cultivated taste and opinion, no longer allowed 
to intrude into the domain of art manufactures 
which belongs exclusively to the trained mind and 
hand of individual workmen, wealth will become 
more equally diffused throughout society, and the 

104 



AND HANDICRAFT. 

working classes, through the elevating influence of 
their daily work, and the growing respect for their 
talent, and skill, and culture will rise at once in 
social, civil and political position, raising the whole 
country to the highest classes with them ; and 
Europe will learn to taste of some of that content 
and happiness in life which is to be still found in 
the Pagan East, as it was once found in Pagan 
Greece and Rome."* 



* SIR GEORGE BIRD WOOD (' Industrial Arts of 
India,' 1880.) 

105 



APPENDIX III. 
WILLIAM MORRIS ON COMMERCIAL WAR. 

"TI^OR so far reaching is this curse of commercial 
war that no country is safe from its ravages ; 
the traditions of a thousand years fall before it in a 
month ; it overruns a weak or semi-barbarous 
country, and whatsoever romance or pleasure or art 
existed there is trodden down in the mire of sordid- 
ness and ugliness ; the Indian or Japanese craftsman 
may no longer ply his craft leisurely, working a few 
hours a day, in producing a maze of strange beauty 
on a piece of cloth ; a steam-engine is set a-going 
at Manchester, and that victory over nature and a 
thousand stubborn difficulties is used for the base 
work of producing a sort of plaster of China clay and 
shoddy, and the Asiatic worker, if he is not starved 
to death outright, as plentifully happens, is driven 
himself into a factory to lower the wages of his 
Manchester brother worker, and nothing of character 
is left him except, most like, an accumulation of fear 
and hatred of that to him unaccountable evil, his 
English master. The South Sea Islander must leave 

106 



COMMERCIAL WAR. 

his canoe-carving, his sweet rest, and his graceful 
dances, and become a slave of a slave : trousers, 
shoddy, rum, missionary and fatal disease he must 
swallow all this civilisation in a lump, and neither 
himself nor we can help him now till social order 
displaces the hideous tyranny of gambling that has 
ruined him."* 



* William Morris, " Signs of Change" p. 10. 
107 



APPENDIX IV. 
E. B. HAVELL ON CRAFTSMANSHIP AND CULTURE. 

'""THE important part which craftsmen, more 
especially Oriental craftsmen, have always 
played in the world's history as missionaries of 
civilisation, culture, and religion, is not generally 
realised by bookmen. Even at the present day the 
Indian craftsman, deeply versed in his Silpa Sastras, 
learned in folk-lore and in national epic literature, is, 
though excluded from Indian universities or, 
rather, on that account far more highly cultured, 
intellectually and spiritually, than the average 
Indian graduate. In mediaeval times the craftsman's 
intellectual influence, being creative and not merely 
assimilative, was at least as great as that of the 
priest and bookman."* 



* E. B. Havell, " Indian Sculpture and Painting" 
. 183. 

108 



APPENDIX V. 

E. B. HAVELL ON THE OFFICIAL SUPPRESSION OF 
INDIAN CRAFTSMANSHIP 'AT THE PRESENT DAY. 

"TNDIA still possesses a large body of trained 
craftsmen who practise the art of building on 
similar principles and produce similar results to 
those of the great mediaeval builders of Europe. 
They enter no University, for Indian Universities 
were founded for supplying material for the official 
machinery, and make no provision for either art or 
religion. But their ancestors built the Taj, the 
shrines of Mount Abu, and countless other master- 
pieces ; they constructed the Mogul palaces, public 
offices, irrigation works, and everything of practical 
utility that the art of building could provide. 

" How does our departmentalism provide for these 
needs to-day ? A certain number of young men with 
no training either in art or in craft, learn by heart 
certain formularies for calculating the maximum 
weight which an iron girder will bear, the smallest 
dimensions to which a wall can be reduced without 
collapsing, the cheapest rate at which a building can 
be constructed so as to bring it within the annual 
departmental budget. When a department has 

109 



OFFICIAL SUPPRESSION 

settled on paper the plan of the building it wants, 
one of these engineers with an archaeological turn of 
mind puts on to it a " Gothic " or " Classic " front, 
according to departmental taste, and provides a 
certain scale of departmental decoration according to 
departmental rank and dignity. Then the hereditary 
Indian craftsman whose family has practised the art 
of building for untold centuries is brought in to 
learn the wisdom of the West by copying the 
departmental paper patterns. How bad the art 
becomes is, perhaps, difficult to be understood by 
those to whom an archaeological solecism is more 
offensive than an artistic eyesore ; but it is easy to 
explain how wasteful and extravagant the system 
really is. To build one of the latest and perhaps the 
best of these archaeological structures in Calcutta, a 
large number of Indian caste-builders were em- 
ployed. Many of them were both artists and crafts- 
men they could design, build, and, carve. The 
structural design had been settled for them depart- 
mentally, so they had no concern with that. There 
was also a considerable amount of ornament to be 
carved, but that also had been designed for them in 
proper departmental style, which happened to be 
Italian Renaissance, so they were not allowed to 
attempt that. Other men who had been trained in 
the European archaeological style in Bombay were 
brought over to copy mechanically the paper pat- 
no 



OF INDIAN CRAFTSMEN. 

terns prepared for them. These men were paid two 
rupees a day each. Now there are at the present 
time in the Orissa district, not far from Calcutta, 
and famous for its splendid native architecture, a 
considerable number of masons and builders who, 
within the last twenty years, have designed and 
carried out architectural decoration comparable with 
that of our finest mediaeval building in Europe, and 
infinitely more beautiful than the imitation Renais- 
sance ornament of the building I have referred to. 
The average earning of these men is four annas a 
day, or one-eighth of the wages paid for executing 
the departmental decoration. They and their fellow- 
artists all over India are constantly in want of work, 
for departmentalism has no need of their services. 
Indian art cries out for bread ; we give it museums, 
exhibitions, and archaeology."* 



* E. B. Havelly Nineteenth Century, June, 1907. 
in 



APPENDIX VI. 
LAFCADIO HEARN ON CRAFT GODS IN CEYLON. 

" A NOTHER development of ancestor worship 
the cult of gods presiding over crafts and 
callings deserves special study. Unfortunately, we 
are as yet little informed upon the subject. Anciently 
this worship must have been more definitely ordered 
and maintained than it is now. Occupations were 
hereditary ; artizans were grouped into guilds 
perhaps one might even say castes and each guild 
or caste then probably had its patron deity. In 
some cases the craft-gods may have been ancestors 
of Japanese craftsmen; in other cases they were 
perhaps of Korean or Chinese origin, ancestral 
gods of immigrant artizans, who brought their 
cults with them to Japan. Not much is known 
about them. But it is tolerably safe to assume 
that most, if not all of the guilds, were at one 
time religiously organised, and that apprentices 
were adopted not only in a craft, but into a cult. 
There were corporations of weavers, potters, car- 
penters, arrow-makers, bow-makers, smiths, boat- 
builders and other tradesmen ; and the past 



CRAFT GODS IN JAPAN. 

religious organizations of these is suggested by the 
fact that certain occupations assume a religious 
character even to-day. For example, the carpenter 
still builds according to Shinto tradition : he dons 
a priestly costume at a certain stage of his work, 
performs rites, and chants invocations, and places 
the new house under the protection of the gods. 
But the occupation of the swordsmith was in old 
days the most sacred of the crafts : he worked in 
priestly garb, and practised Shinto rites of purifica- 
tion while engaged in the making of a good blade. 
Before his smithy was then suspended the rope 
of rice straw (shime nawa), which is the oldest 
symbol of Shinto ; none even of his family might 
enter there, or speak to him ; and he ate only of 
food cooked with holy fire."* 



" LAFCADIO HEARN, " Japan," 1905, pp. 138-139. 
See also, for religious ceremonies performed by 
craftsmen, " Medieval Sinhalese Art" 

"3 



APPENDIX VII. 
LAFCADIO HEARN ON CRAFT GUILDS IN JAPAN. 

" IN feudal times ... all craftsmen and all 
labourers formed guilds and companies ; and 
the discipline maintained by those guilds or com- 
panies prohibited competition as undertaken for 
purely personal advantage. Similar, or nearly 
similar forms of organization are maintained by 
artizans and labourers to-day ; and the relation of 
any outside employer to skilled labour is regulated 
by the guild or company in the old communistic 
manner. Let us suppose, for instance, that you 
wish to have a good house built. For that under- 
taking, you will have to deal with a very intelligent 
class of skilled labour, for the Japanese house- 
carpenter may be ranked with the artist almost as 
much as with the artizan. You may apply to a 
building company, but, as a general rule, you will 
do better by applying to a master-carpenter, who 
combines in himself the functions of architect, 
contractor, and builder. In any event, you cannot 
select and hire workmen ; guild regulations forbid. 

114 



GUILDS IN JAPAN. 

You can only make your contract ; and the master- 
carpenter, when his plans have been approved, will 
undertake all the rest purchase and transport of 
material, hire of carpenters, plasterers, tilers, mat- 
makers, screen-fitters, brass- workers, stone-cutters, 
locksmiths and glaziers. For each master-carpenter 
represents much more than his own craft-guild : 
he has his clients in every trade related to house- 
building and house-furnishing, and you must not 
dream of trying to interfere with his claims and 
privileges. He builds your house according to 
contract ; but that is only the beginning of the 
relation. You have really made with him an agree- 
ment which you must not break, without good and 
sufficient reason, for the rest of your life. Whatever 
afterwards may happen to any part of your house 
walls, floor, ceiling, roof, foundation you must 
arrange for repairs with him, never with anybody 
else. Should the roof leak, for instance, you must 
not send for the nearest tiler or tinsmith ; if the 
plaster cracks, you must not send for a plasterer. 
The man who built your house holds himself 
responsible for its condition, and he is jealous of 
that responsibility : none but he has the right to 
send for the plasterer, the roofer, the tinsmith. If 
you interfere with that right, you may have some 
unpleasant surprises. If you make appeal to the 
law against that right, you will find that you can 



GUILDS IN JAPAN. 

get no plasterer, carpenter, tiler or plasterer to 
work for you on any terms. Compromise is always 
possible, but the guilds will resent a needless 
appeal to the law. And after all, these craft-guilds 
are usually faithful performers, and well worth 
conciliating . . . Apprentices bound to a 
master- workman, were boarded, lodged, clothed, 
and even educated by their patron, with whom they 
might hope to pass the rest of their lives. But they 
were not paid wages until they had learnt the 
business or trade of their employer, and were fully 
capable of managing a business or workshop of 
their own. . . . These paternal and filial relations 
between employer and employed have helped to 
make life pleasant and labour cheerful ; and the 
quality of all industrial production must suffer much 
when they disappear."* 



* LAFCADIO HEARN, " Japan, an Interpretation" 
pp. 440-445. 

Note. // is stated in the " Indian Trade Journal " 
for Feb. 19, 1907, that the Japanese, in preparing to 
compete with European nations for commercial 
prosperity, are showing a distinct reversion to former 
ways and methods. Amongst other things, steps were 
being taken to reorganise the old Trade Guilds. The 
" Trade Journal " comments : " As the various 
guilds grow in power and influence they will be able 
to dictate to European or American traders, unless 
the latter also enter into combination." 

116 



APPENDIX VIII. 
SER MARCO POLO ON CRAFT GUILDS IN CHINA. 

IT is stated in Yule's Marco Polo (1903, 3rd ed., 
II., 186), that in the great city of Kinsay there 
were twelve guilds of the different crafts. " The 
document aforesaid [description of the great city of 
Kinsay] also went on to state that there were in this 
city twelve guilds of the different crafts, and that 
each guild had 12,000 houses in the occupation of its 
workmen. Each of these houses contains at least 
twelve men, whilst some contain 20 and some 40 
not that all these are masters, but inclusive of the 
journeymen who work under the masters. And yet 
all these craftsmen had full occupation, for many 
other cities of the kingdom are supplied from this 
city with what they require. 

" The document aforesaid also stated that the 
number and wealth of the merchants, and the 
amount of goods that passed through their hands, 
was so enormous that no man could form a just 
estimate thereof. And I should have told you with 
regard to those masters of the different crafts who 
are at the head of such houses as I have mentioned, 
that neither they nor their wives ever touch a piece 

117 



CRAFT GUILDS IN CHINA. 

of work with their own hands, but live as nicely and 
delicately as if they were kings and queens. The 
wives, indeed, are most dainty and angelical crea- 
tures ! Moreover, it was an ordinance laid down by 
the king that every man should follow his father's 
business, and no other, no matter if he possessed 
100,000 beyants." It is also recorded that there 
were " officers appointed by the king to decide 
differences arising between merchants or other 
inhabitants of the quarter." 

It is interesting to remark the following extract 
from Marco Polo's will : "I also bequeath . . . 
four lire to every guild or fraternity of which I am 
a member." 

Yule's note on this is as follows : 

" The word rendered Guilds is ' Scholarium.' The 
crafts at Venice were united in corporations called 
Fragliae, or Scholae, each of which had its statutes, 
its head, called the gastald, and its place of meeting, 
under the patronage of some saint. These acted as 
societies of mutual aid, gave dowries to poor girls, 
caused masses to be celebrated for deceased mem- 
bers, joined in public religious processions, etc., nor 
could any craft be exercised except by members of 
such a guild." [Roman, I, 370.] 

Yule's Marco Polo, ed. 3, p. 72. 
118 



APPENDIX IX. 
BHIKKU P. C. JINAVARAVAMSA ON CRAFTSMEN OF 

SlAM. 

A FASCINATING account of Siamese craftsmen 
and their social organization is given by 
Bhikku P. C. Jinavaravamsa, in the Ceylon National 
Review for July, 1907. There were ten groups of 
artists and craftsmen organised under one State 
Department of Art and Craft. The ten groups 
consisted, briefly, of builders, wood-carvers (archi- 
tectural), wood-carvers (small work), painters, 
imagers, gilders, stucco- workers, turners, repoussers, 
and goldsmiths. Twenty-eight other departments 
were separately constituted under chiefs or under 
one of the ten main departments according to the 
king's wishes. Amongst these were founders, puppet 
makers, tailors, goldsmiths, enamellers, tanners, 
inlayers with mother of pearl, makers of glazed 
pottery and tiles, stone-carvers, etc. 

" Just as in mediaeval Europe the art of decorative 
painting was taught in the ecclesiastical buildings ; 
so here drawing and painting are taught in Buddhist 
temples ; some branches are also taught in palaces. 
" There is no such thing as a regular course of 
lessons or organized training among the different 

119 



CRAFTSMEN OF SIAM. 

crafts. Examples are given by the master for the 
pupil to 'look at * and ' copy.' The master seems to 
criticise the pupil's work rather than direct him, 
and the pupil's endeavour is to imitate the master ; 
this is the nature of the training. Apprentices are 
generally the master's own children or those of 
relatives or even neighbours ; the pupils crowd 
round the work on which the master is engaged, 
and are told to ' watch ' and to ' try to do the same,' 
and are employed in grinding and mixing colours 
and paints, and also help in handling the work and 
in any other labour connected with it. In this way 
I have learnt to do many things from my childhood. 

" The only real school of arts and crafts is the 
residence of the head of the Department of Ten 
Crafts, where all kinds of work are almost always 
going on, and, in cases of working against time, by 
night as well as by day. Of course, only such kinds 
of work as are portable are done here, or work 
which can be done in sections and afterwards put 
together in situ, such as a bedstead. 

" When any of the apprentices show aptitude 
for any particular craft, he is set to do the simplest 
work first, such as painting the ground, filling up 
spaces, washing in the sky and water, and finally 
tracing the outline of figures and other objects in 
the picture ; illumination and shading are the last 
stage." 

120 



CRAFTSMEN OF SIAM. 

The following extracts are given to show the 
characteristic methods of the Oriental craftsman in 
Siam : 

" In the case of water colour painting on a plaster 
surface, the surface is first sized with a decoction 
of tamarind seeds and leaves in two or three coats ; 
the object of this is to neutralize the alkali and to 
make the surface firm and non-absorbent. 

" The subject being decided upon (generally a 
jataka, or the Ramayana, or some other popular 
legend), the master painter takes a selected piece 
of bamboo charcoal (or even a rough piece of charred 
wood), and proceeds to mark out by zigzag lines 
the divisions between successive scenes. Within the 
spaces thus marked out he next makes a rough 
sketch of the subject, and gradually develops it 
into a detailed drawing. Then he, or his best pupils, 
outline the figures or design in some dark colour, 
often the sediment of the water in which brushes 
are washed, with a lining-in brush, inserting all 
detail. The figures are then filled in with white 
paint, and the ground painted in with appropriate 
colours representing earth, sky or water. The 
figures are then finished in colour and detail added 
in red, or black, or gold. . . . The painter's tools 
consist merely of some half-a-dozen brushes made 
of the hair of cow's ears, bound in a crow or goose 
quill, two or three flat brushes made of bark, and 

121 



CRAFTSMEN OF SIAM. 

a * foot-rule ' generally one cubit long, and some- 
times divided into inches by mere saw-cuts. 

44 If the painting be of the nature of a regular 
pattern or consist of repeated figures, the artist 
resorts to perforated paper patterns. A thick 
native-made black paper is used, pieces being joined 
together if one is not large enough. The designer 
roughly sketches the pattern on it with a soft 
limestone pencil (greyish-white or light-yellow) cut 
to the required size and pointed at both ends. If 
it is necessary to rub out any lines, the artist uses 
his finger, moistened in the mouth, but if a large 
area is to be erased, a piece of the same paper, dipped 
in water, is used. When the design is thus completed, 
it is lined in in white with a fine brush ; corrections 
can be made in black. 

" The stencil thus made is placed on a cushion 
and closely pierced or pricked along the design with 
a needle. It is then ready for use. It is laid on the 
surface to be decorated, and which has been pre- 
pared, and powdered chalk (in a cloth bag of loose 
texture) is rubbed or dusted over it, so that the 
pattern appears on the prepared surface as a series 
of faint dotted lines. 

" A special craft connected with painting is the 
art of making transparent pictures for what 
Europeans call, though incorrectly, * shadow 
pantomime.' This is a show of moving transparent 

122 



CRAFTSMEN OF SIAM. 

pictures over a screen illuminated by a strong 
bonfire behind. The scenes represent the favourite 
Indian drama of Ramayana, and are accompanied 
by music and intoned recitation, and sometimes 
singing. The method of preparation of these pictures 
is very interesting. A cowhide is scraped to the 
required thinness (generally about 1-16 inch), evenly 
stretched and allowed to dry hard. It is then roughly 
shaped oval for a group and long rectangular for 
a standing figure the pieces measuring generally 
from 2^ to 5 feet in height or diameter. A design is 
drawn on native-made black paper, perforated and 
transferred as already described, and then outlined 
in black upon the hide. Flame kanaka or other 
appropriate ornaments or flowers or trees are 
introduced to connect together the different pieces 
or projecting parts of a figure, so that when the 
ground is cut away the hide is held together by these 
connections and will also hang evenly without 
buckling. Sky or other open space is represented 
by small even patterns of a very open character 
with inconspicuous connections. 

" The hide, after cutting in this way, is appro- 
priately coloured with fast bright dyes which 
penetrate the leather, and are fixed by lime-juice 
or native vinegar, which help also to brighten the 
colour. 



123 



CRAFTSMEN OF SIAM. 

" The greatest difficulty is to estimate how much 
light will, as they say, * eat up ' the figure ; for the 
appearance of the figure is altered by the light from 
behind, some colours being weakened and others 
intensified. If, for instance, a human figure is 
drawn (generally dark) in good proportion, with 
dress and ornament and the colour of hair and skin 
correctly represented, the picture will appear badly 
proportioned when lit up. The artist must be a 
man of great experience, and the worst of it is that 
he does not seem able to explain his art nor to set 
forth in black and white the proportion of this or 
that colour which will absorb or transmit the light 
most. It is amusing to see young artists' attempts 
at making these apparently simple transparent 
pictures, with thick white paper beautifully 
illuminated, but turning out a complete failure when 
exhibited. The pictures are held up before the 
screen by four pieces of split bamboo just strong 
enough for the purpose, and fastened to the picture, 
two in front and two behind, the lower ends serving 
as handles. The hide is flexible, so that it can be 
rolled up round the two sticks. The performer 
must be himself a trained dramatic artist and dancer 
to music. He acts the scene, as he would on the 
stage, with every part of his body except the two 
arms, engaged in holding up the picture. He seems 
to live in the picture, and is absorbed in the 

124 



CRAFTSMEN OF SIAM. 

representation he is trying to produce. It is most 
amusing to see the artist's attitude and observe the 
very intense expression of his face as he performs 
and watches the motion of his picture. The same 
remarks apply to the puppet-show man described 
below. 

" The puppet-shows also deserve some mention. 
The construction of moving figures and puppets is 
carried to a considerable degree of perfection. 
Beautiful little figures, 6 inches to 18 inches high, 
representing the characters of the Indian drama of 
Ramayana, are made for exhibition at royal 
entertainments. They are perfect pieces of 
mechanism ; their very fingers can be moved and 
made to grasp an object, and they can be made to 
assume postures expressive of any action or 
emotion described in poetry. This is done by 
pulling strings which hang down within the clothing, 
or within a small tube attached to the lower part 
of the figure, with a ring or loop attached to the 
end of each, for inserting the fingers of the showman. 
The movements are perfectly timed to the music 
and recitation or singing. 

" One cannot help being charmed by these 
lilliputs, whose dresses are so gorgeous and jewelled 
with the minutest detail. Little embroidered 
jackets and other pieces of dress, representing the 

125 



CRAFTSMEN OF SIAM. 

magnificent robes of a Deva or Yakkha, are com- 
plete in the smallest particulars. The miniature 
jewels are sometimes made of real gold and gems. 

" Such a thing as this I believe to be only possible 
when a man has almost unlimited means, both in 
time and money, to devote to his hobby for months 
(as was the case with the late and last so-called 
' second king,' whose puppet-show was the most 
famous ever called into existence), to complete the 
work. 

" In their artistic taste the Siamese seem to be 
guided by an instinctive appreciation of beauty, 
rather than a self-conscious striving after it. They 
understand form, and especially curves and their 
combinations, very well, and use them to advantage. 
They understand well the filling of space with 
appropriate ornament, so that odd or awkward 
spaces become restful and even, or form a contrast 
to the more ornamental part of the work, making 
it stand out clearly, fulfilling the function of light 
and shade in modern work. Composition, or the 
proper disposition of spaces is carefully studied 
if the criticism one constantly hears passed upon 
this or the other work may be called study. The 
Siamese artists show accurate judgment of size and 
distance, light and level ; men with such accurate 
judgment are called ta jang, i.e., eye of an expert. 

126 



CRAFTSMEN OF SIAM. 

" An excellent artist is referred to as nakleng 
(hobbyist, connoisseur, ' well-trained '), and even 
when the term is applied in the case of bad habits, 
as to a connoisseur of good wines or to a gourmet, 
it is a complimentary term. It is also applied to 
collectors in general. It is, however, understood 
to imply a morally weak man, one who gives way 
to passion, but decidedly a jolly good fellow. A 
rowdy or immoral man, or one noted for quarrels, 
is also called nakleng, in a bad sense." * 



" Ceylon National Review," No. 4, 1907. 
127 

K 



APPENDIX X. 
MUNICIPAL INSTITUTIONS IN ANCIENT INDIA. 

" According to Vrihaspati and Yajnavalkhya, 
villages, townships, guilds of merchants and 
mechanics, communities of Brahmans, and heretics 
and other bodies should, when expecting common 
danger or when inspired by a desire to properly 
discharge their secular and religious duties, or those 
relating to their trade or profession, in the case of 
mercantile or other guilds, enter into an agreement 
among themselves for the protection of their com- 
mon interest and the proper performance of their 
duties. 

" The duties, specified under their agreements 
which these bodies were required to execute in 
writing, and which thereby acquired a moral and 
legal sanction, were the repair of public halls, 
prapas (places where drinking water is supplied to 
travellers, wells, cisterns, etc.), temples, tanks and 
gardens, the performance of the purificatory rites 
for the poor and the destitute, and arrangements 
for the cremations of dead paupers, distribution of 
gifts among the people desirous of performing 
religious acts, and supporting people in time of 
famine and distress. 

128 



MUNICIPAL INSTITUTIONS. 

" It is these duties which were known as samuha- 
krita-sambit, or the course of conduct or duty 
established by the public bodies. 

; ' The samuhas were free to take up other duties 
also, provided that they were not inconsistent with, 
or antagonistic to, their main duties." * 

" Headmen (commissioners) residing in towns and 
forts, and managing the affairs of Pugas (mercantile 
and other guilds), Srenis (bodies of men, following 
the same trade or profession), and Ganas (communi- 
ties of Brahmans or of other people distinct from 
the Srenis) should punish wrongdoers by administer- 
ing rebuke or censure, as well as with social ostra- 
cism and banishment. 

" And the favour or disfavour thus meted out by 
them (to the people), when in accordance with the 
precepts of religion and morality, should be accepted 
by the king ; for general approval had already been 
accorded to whatever these might do (in the 
ordinary course of their duties)." f 

* Quoted by A. C. Das in "Modern Review," 
Vol. //., 1907, p. 182, from a paper by Rai Bahadur 
Pandit R. C. Shashi, in the Buddhist Text Society's 
Journal. 

f Translation of a text of Vrihaspati, quoted loc. 
tit. 

129 



APPENDIX XL 
BOOKS RECOMMENDED TO THE READER. 

The following books and articles are here 

mentioned, and specially recommended to the reader, 

as bearing, whether directly or indirectly, upon 

the subject of " The Indian Craftsman " : 

John Ruskin : " Unto This Last." 

l< The Nature of Gothic." 

William Morris : " Architecture, Industry and 
Wealth." 

A. J. Penty: "The Restoration of the Guild 
System." 

C. R. Ashbee : " Craftsmanship in Competitive 
Industry," 1908. 

A. K. Coomaraswamy : " Mediaeval Sinhalese Art," 
1908. 

Sir George Birdwood : " Industrial Arts of India." 

E. B. Havell: 

" Indian Administration and ' Swadeshi,' " Nine- 
teenth Century, July, 1907. 

" Art, Ethics, and Economics in Hand-loom Weav- 
ing," East and West, August, 1907. 
"Indian Sculpture and Painting," 1908. 



THE END. 



130 



?tobslha\xi's QgUxiUV SwUs. 



Buddhism as Religion : Its Historical Development and 
Present- Day Condition in all its Countries. 

By H. Hackmann, Lie. Theol. From the German, revised 
and enlarged by the Author. Translated by Miss Kemp. 
Crown 8vo, ca. 300 pages. Price, 5/- net. In press. 

The Masnavi, by Jalal al Din Rumi. Book the Second. 

Translated for the first time into English Prose, with a 
Commentary, by C. E. Wilson, B.A. (Lond.), Professor of 
Persian University College, London. 2 vols. Vol. I., Transla- 
tion ; Vol. II., Commentary. Price ca. 15/- net. 

Of the six books of the Masnavi, only the first has hitherto 
been translated into English, by the late Sir James Red- 
house, but it is not necessary to read the first book in 
order to understand the second and succeeding books, 
since the whole work is not a systematic and ordered 
treatise on Sufiism. 



ALWIS, J AS. Descriptive Catalogue of Sanskrit, Pali and 
Singhalese Literary Works of Ceylon. Vol. I. (all), 8vo, 
dp. xxx., 243. 1870. 9/- 

BAYNES, H. The Idea of God and the Moral Sense in the Light 
of Language. 8vo, pp. xiii., 239, 104. 1895. 10/6. 

BUDDHIST REVIEW, Organ of the Buddhist Society of Great 
Britain. Vol. I. now in progress. 4/- 

DAWES, F. Six Essays on the Ancients, their Music and 
Instruments. I., Chinese, Japanese, Hindoos. 40, pp. 20. 
1893- 2/6. 

EITEL, E. J. Handbook of Chinese Buddhism, being a Sanskrit- 
Chinese Dictionary, with Vocabularies of Buddhist Terms. 
8vo, pp. 231. 1888. 18/- 

ERVAD, R. J. MEHERJI RAN A. Genealogy of the Naosari 
Parsi Priests. 40 pp., xx., 194. 1907. 25/- 

GRIFFITHS, R. J., and Rogers, A. In Persia's Golden Days 

(Story of Kusru and Shirin). 8vo. 1889. 2/6. 



BAR BILAS SARD A. Hindu Superiority. Attempt to determine 
the Position of the Hindu Race. Royal 8vo, pp. xxxii., 454. 
Illus. 1907. 12/6. 

KLIENE, CH AS. Anglo-Chinese Calendar, A.D. 1751-2000. 

4vo, pp. vi., 500. Half-calf. 1906. 2 2s. 

LLOYD, A. Admiral Togo : A Biography. 8vo. Illus. 1905. 
2/6. The Praises of Amida. Buddhist Sermons translated 
from the Japanese. 8vo, 1907. 3/- 

MASAYOSHI, COUNT. Report on the Adoption of the Gold 
Standard in Japan. Royal 8vo, pp. xv., 389. 1899. 14/- 
Report on the Port Bellum Financial Administration in 
Japan, 1896-1900. 8vo, pp. xviii., 256. 1901. 10/6. 

MAYERS, Fr. W. Treaties between the Empire of China and 
the Foreign Powers. 8vo, pp. 354. 1906. 15/- 

NIZAMI Laili and Majnun. Translated from the Persian by 
J. Atkinson and L. C. Byng. 8vo, pp. xxii., 162. 1905. 5/- 

SPIEGEL, Fr. VON. Iranian Art. 8vo, pp. 59. 1886. 2/6. 
and W. GEIGER The Age of the Avesta and Zoroaster. 

8vo, pp. 149. 1886. 3/6. 

STEVENS, H. J. Cantonese Apothegms. In Chinese with 
Translations and Commentary. 8vo, pp. iii, 155. 1902. 6/- 

SUBHADRA BHIKSHU. Buddhist Catechism. 8vo, pp. iv., 75. 
1908. l/- 

TEMPLE, R. C. Dissertation on the Proper Names of the 
Panjabis. 8vo, pp. viii., 228. 1883. 3/6. 

WESTCOTT, G. H. Kabir and the Kabir Panth. 8vo, pp. vii., 
185. Illus, 1907. 3/6. 

We have in the " Kabir Panth" an attempt to breck 
down the barriers that separate Hindus from Mohammadans. 
" The Kabir Panth " is a religious system that owes some- 
thing to Hindu, Mohammadan and Christian Influences. 



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