Open Collections

UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Creators and consecrators : a potter community of South India Inglis, Stephen Robert 1984

You don't seem to have a PDF reader installed, try download the pdf

Item Metadata

Download

Media
831-UBC_1984_A1 I54.pdf [ 32.97MB ]
Metadata
JSON: 831-1.0096412.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0096412-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0096412-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0096412-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0096412-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0096412-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0096412-source.json
Full Text
831-1.0096412-fulltext.txt
Citation
831-1.0096412.ris

Full Text

CREATORS AND  CONSECRATORS:  A POTTER COMMUNITY OF SOUTH INDIA by STEPHEN ROBERT INGLIS B.A., The U n i v e r s i t y M.A.,  of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1973  C a l c u t t a U n i v e r s i t y , 1977  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE  REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in  THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES  The Department o f Anthropology and S o c i o l o g y  We accept t h i s  t h e s i s as conforming  to the r e q u i r e d  THE  standard  UNVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA August 1984 © Stephen Robert I n g l i s , 1984  In p r e s e n t i n g  this  thesis  an advanced degree at the I  Library shall  f u r t h e r agree  for  fulfilment of  the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h  make it  freely available  that permission  the r e q u i r e m e n t s  Columbia,  for reference  for e x t e n s i v e copying o f  I agree  this  representatives. thesis  for  It  i s understood that copying o r  f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l  w r i t ten pe rm i ss i on .  The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h  2075 W e s b r o o k P l a c e V a n c o u v e r , Canada V6T 1W5  Date  A.U6-. 3^  ,  1^84"  Columbia  for that  and study. this  thesis  s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the Head o f my D e p a r t m e n t  by h i s of  in p a r t i a l  or  publication  not be allowed without my  A B S T R A C T  T h i s t h e s i s p r e s e n t s the f i r s t p o t t e r community i n I n d i a . a n a l y s e d was Natu.  The  interpreted  extended  e t h n o g r a p h i c account of a  The r e s e a r c h m a t e r i a l which i s p r e s e n t e d  gathered d u r i n g 1979-1980 i n the South  and  I n d i a n s t a t e of Tamil  c u l t u r a l c o n t e x t of the c r a f t w o r k of the p o t t e r s i s d e s c r i b e d and through a d e t a i l e d  study of a p o t t e r community.  The c e n t r a l aim of t h i s t h e s i s i s to demonstrate,  through  an  i n v e s t i g a t i o n of c u l t u r a l meaning, the ways i n which the d i v e r s e a s p e c t s of the p o t t e r s ' c r a f t are bound t o g e t h e r . how  An attempt  i s made to  the p o t t e r s ' work of pot making, image making, and p r i e s t l y  address a s i n g l e core of the ideas and how more g e n e r a l p a t t e r n of I n d i a n b e l i e f p o t t e r s to m a n i f e s t these i d e a s , and r e g e n e r a t e and The  about  utilize  existence.  The  special  the r o l e of t h e i r c r a f t  skill  of  i n h e l p i n g to  s u s t a i n them i s d i s c u s s e d .  i n t e r p r e t a t i o n and a n a l y s i s p r e s e n t e d i n t h i s t h e s i s i s informed those of people  t h e i r s e r v i c e s , sources on I n d i a n h i s t o r y and ethnology,  those on the study of a r t i n a n t h r o p o l o g y . of  service a l l  these are deeply r o o t e d i n a  by a number of s o u r c e s : the views expressed by p o t t e r s and who  demonstrate  The  t h e s i s p r e s e n t s an  one of the most a n c i e n t and b r o a d l y - b a s e d c r a f t  i n t e r p r e t s i t s c u l t u r a l meaning i n South  Indian  traditions  life.  and  analysis  i n I n d i a and  TABLE OF CONTENTS  List  of Tables  List  of F i g u r e s  vi viii  Note on T r a n s l i t e r a t i o n  ix  Acknowledgements  x  Preface  x i i  INTRODUCTION  1  CHAPTER ONE: THE STUDY OF INDIAN CRAFTSMANSHIP  11  (a) Overview (b) S e t t i n g s i) ii) iii) iv)  11 The Court The G u i l d The V i l l a g e Summary  (c) Rank  22 22 23 25  i) Position i i ) The F a l l i i i ) Summary (d) The I d e a l s i ) The Source: Brahma/Visvakarma i i ) A Sacred R i t u a l i i i ) Summary CHAPTER TWO:  14 15 16 18 18  POTTERS OF SOUTH INDIA  27 27 30 32 36  (a) A r c h a e o l o g i c a l Records  39  (b) Texts  44  (c) I n s c r i p t i o n s  47  (d) E a r l y F o r e i g n Accounts  50  (e) Recent Accounts  58  CHAPTER THREE: THE PANTIYA VELAR  61  (a) P o t t e r s o f Tamil  Natu  61  (b) P o t t e r Castes  63  (c) The V e l a r  65  (d) The Caste and i t s Region  68  (e) The Subcaste and i t s T e r r i t o r y  72  -iii-  ( f ) The V i l l a g e Community - A r a p p a l a i y a m i ) The V i l l a g e i i ) The V e l a r and t h e i r V i l l a g e Neighbours i i i ) The V e l a r o f A r a p p a l a i y a m i v ) The L i n e a g e CHAPTER FOUR: THE OCCUPATIONAL RIGHTS OF THE VELAR (a) The J a j m a n i  System  91 93 95 101 112 138 140  (b) The R i g h t s o f the V e l a r i ) Pots i i ) Images i i i ) P r i e s t l y Services  144 145 152 154  (c) Tenancy R i g h t s  158  (d) C o n f l i c t  166  CHAPTER FIVE: THE CREATIVE PROCESS - POTS  173  (a) Domestic Use o f Pots  173  (b) Ceremonial Use of Pots  180  (c) The Pot Making C y c l e i ) G a t h e r i n g the E a r t h i i ) Forming i i i ) Drying iv) F i r i n g  192 193 195 207 210  (d) The P r o c e s s  216  CHAPTER SIX: THE CREATIVE PROCESS - IMAGES  221  (a) The Use o f Images  221  (b) The Image Making C y c l e ' i) Creation i i ) Preparation i i i ) Public Consecration iv) I n s t a l l a t i o n  227 227 235 236 244  (c) V a r i a t i o n s i ) U n f i r e d Images i i ) M a s s i v e Images i i i ) Summary  257 257 260 272  (d) The P r o c e s s  274  CHAPTER SEVEN: CONCLUSION - POTTER AND PRIEST  278  (a) The V e l a r P r i e s t h o o d  278  (b) The C a m i y a t i  283  (c) The C r a f t o f the V e l a r  301  -iv-  Bibliography  315  Appendix I :  Work. O u t s i d e T r a d i t i o n a l  Appendix I I :  A u x i l i a r y Claywork  Appendix I I I :  Inventory  of P r o d u c t i o n :  of M a t u r a i / V a i k a i k k a r a i Appendix IV:  Potter Ancestors  Service  335 Velar  Potters  Natu 1979-1980  - From the K u l a l a Purana  T r a n s l i t e r a t i o n Index  331  338 381 383  -v-  LIST OF  TABLES  Table I  L i n e a g e s Represented at Arappalaiyam  118  Table I I  Lineage H i e r a r c h y a t Arappalaiyam  123  Table I I I  Kovil Vitu  125  Table IV  K o c c a t a i Lineage - S e r v i c e to Landowners  147  Table V  Exchange I n v o l v i n g Marriage Pots  151  Table VI  K o c c a t a i Lineage - Tenancy R i g h t s  163  Table V I I  K o c c a t a i Lineage - D i v i s i o n of Tenancy R i g h t s Among Lineage Segments  -vi-  164  LIST OF FIGURES  FIGURES Figure 1  Segments o f K o c c a t a i Lineage  Figure 2  D i v i s i o n of Tenancy R i g h t s - V i l a n k u t i  Figure 3  Two Stages of Pot Making  200  Figure 4  P a r t s o f a Pot  200  Figure 5  Annual C y c l e of E a r t h e n Images  228  F i g u r e 6a, b  Two L o c a l Temples  252  Map 1  Maturai/Ramanatapuram D i s t r i c t s  75  Map 2  Maturai  92  Map 3  Arappalaiyam  Map 4  M a t u r a i C i t y - L o c a t i o n s of o r i g i n a l V i l l a g e s - Arappalaiyam L i n e a g e s  119  M a t u r a i C i t y - Main S e r v i c e Area Temples Arappalaiyam L i n e a g e s  155  71  130 Lineage  161  MAPS  Map 5  PHOTOGRAPHS  City Village  96  *  Photograph  1  P o t t e r s ' Work Area - V a y a l c e r i  Photograph  2  The Annual  Photograph  3  The Main V e l a r S t r e e t - Arappalaiyam  103  Photograph  4  P r i e s t s and C a m i y a t i of K o c c a t a i Lineage Arappalaiyam  116  Leading Members of an A g r i c u l t u r a l Community K o i l Pappakuti  141  Photograph  *A11  5  photographs  Village  "Great Assembly" - K o r i p p a l a i y a m  taken by the author  -vii-  78  Photograph 6  Photograph  7  Photograph  8/9  Photograph  Photograph  Photograph  Photograph  10  11  12  Community - K o c c a t a i  157  P o t s , Dishes and Country Stoves - Arappalaiyam  175  Pot Making: The Forming Stage b e a t i n g ) - Arappalaiyam  197  ( t u r n i n g and  Pot Making: The D r y i n g Stage Arappalaiyam  208  Pot Making: The F i r i n g Stage heap) - Arappalaiyam  (packing the 211  Pot Making: The F i r i n g Stage heap) - Arappalaiyam  ( t e n d i n g the 214  Image Making: M o d e l l i n g the Image of a Goddess - Arappalaiyam  230  Image Making: Bodies of V o t i v e Horses Arappalaiyam  234  P r i e s t s o f V i l l a p u r a m Lineage Prepare an Image - Arappalaiyam  238  E a r t h e n V o t i v e O f f e r i n g s of I n f a n t s and B u l l s - Arappalaiyam  245  Photograph 17/ 18  V e l a r P r i e s t Standing Before Massive Koccatai  262  Photograph  19  A Young C a m i y a t i - K o c c a t a i  289  Photograph  20  C a m i y a t i Dancing - Arappalaiyam  293  Photograph  21  C a m i y a t i Stopping - Arappalaiyam  295  Photograph  Photograph  Photograph  13  L e a d i n g Patrons of the Tevar A g r i c u l t u r a l  14  15  16  -viii-  Images -  NOTE ON  TRANSLITERATION OF TAMIL WORDS  Tamil terms are t r a n s l i t e r a t e d a c c o r d i n g to the w i d e l y used the Madras U n i v e r s i t y Tamil L e x i c o n  (1932).  system of  E x c e p t i o n s occur i n the case of  p e r s o n a l names f o r which there i s an E n g l i s h s p e l l i n g e s t a b l i s h e d i n p r i n t and when a term has a w i d e l y known E n g l i s h s p e l l i n g , eg. "Brahman" r a t h e r than the Tamil  "Piramin".  In o r d e r to a v o i d the c o m p l i c a t e d Tamil  forms, the names of c a s t e s and o t h e r groups have been used even when the group i s r e f e r r e d  to as a whole.  only i n the T r a n s l i t e r a t i o n Index.  D i a c r i t i c a l marks appear  Other  I n d i e terms are g i v e n  i n contemporary academic w r i t i n g on I n d i a .  A c c o r d i n g to the Tamil L e x i c o n system, " t " , "n" and retroflexive.  The  letter  "I"  "n" are both pronounced l i k e the E n g l i s h n.  o f t e n pronounced l i k e the E n g l i s h " s " . pronounced l i k e a s l i g h t l y r o l l e d r . macron.  "1" are a l l  as i n Tamil i s a r e t r o f l e x c o n t i n u a n t which  o f t e n sounds l i k e " r " as pronounced by North Americans. and  singular,  Names of pots and o t h e r products made  of e a r t h are t r a n s l i t e r a t e d i n Appendix I I I . a c c o r d i n g to s p e l l i n g s used  i n the  plural  The  The  letters  The  letters  "n"  l e t t e r " c " i s most " r " and  " r " are  Long vowels are i n d i c a t e d by a  both  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS  My d o c t o r a l s t u d i e s and the f i e l d i s based were supported  r e s e a r c h upon which t h i s  by generous s c h o l a r s h i p s from the S o c i a l  and Humanities Research C o u n c i l of Canada. associated with the f i r s t  I am g r a t e f u l  dissertation Sciences  t o a l l those  the S h a s t r i Indo-Canadian I n s t i t u t e who h e l p e d me complete  stages o f my graduate s t u d i e s i n I n d i a .  In M a t u r a i , P r o f e s s o r M. Shanmugam P i l l a i and h i s daughter, S. Muthu Chidambaram o f f e r e d a d v i c e and a s s i s t a n c e , e s p e c i a l l y w i t h r e g a r d language and c u l t u r a l h i s t o r y . P.S.  Udaiyar  statistical  and o t h e r o f f i c e r s of the  S o c i e t y and the Tamilnadu K u l a l a r A s s o c i a t i o n p r o v i d e d u s e f u l and t e c h n i c a l i n f o r m a t i o n , as d i d Koteshvara  Tamilnadu Ceramics To  M. T h i a g a r a j a n  Rao of the  Corporation.  the V e l a r of Arappalaiyam go my warm thanks f o r t h e i r  c o - o p e r a t i o n and h o s p i t a l i t y . acceptance of my c o n s t a n t  F o r some, t h i s  i n v o l v e d a good  presence and f o r many o t h e r s  t h e i r knowledge and f e e l i n g s .  gracious  natured  i t meant s h a r i n g '  M. V i l a y a t a , M. Y e r u m a l a i ,  R. Cinnatampi were p a r t i c u l a r l y h e l p f u l . the subcaste  to Tamil  S. Muttukumar and  They accompanied me on t r a v e l s i n  t e r r i t o r y and i n c l u d e d me i n v a r i o u s a c t i v i t i e s .  K. Muttucami,  Y. K a n t i m a t i and t h e i r c h i l d r e n took s p e c i a l care to f i n d a p l a c e f o r me in  their daily  lives.  Throughout the e n t i r e course  of my graduate s t u d i e s I have b e n e f i t e d  from the encouragement and a d v i c e o f my committee chairman, P r o f e s s o r Michael  M. Ames.  inspiration.  P r o f e s s o r Brenda E.F. Beck has been a c o n s t a n t  P r o f e s s o r Kenelm O.L. B u r r i d g e  r e s e a r c h which i n c l u d e d a welcome v i s i t w h i l e  -x-  took an i n t e r e s t I was i n I n d i a .  guide and  i n my  field  I am i n d e b t e d t o the many o t h e r t e a c h e r s and f e l l o w University  o f B r i t i s h Columbia,  and e s p e c i a l l y  a t the Museum of  Anthropology, w i t h whom so much has been shared. mention my dear f r i e n d , Walter Huber. on an e a r l y  d r a f t o f the d i s s e r t a t i o n .  students a t the  In p a r t i c u l a r ,  Dr. T e r r e l Popoff o f f e r e d  I wish to comments  The a s s i s t a n c e , encouragement and  i n s i g h t of my p a r t n e r , E r i c a C l a u s , both i n I n d i a and i n Canada, has been invaluable.  -xi-  PREFACE T h i s study i s based on f i e l d w o r k c a r r i e d out between August  1979  and August 1980 i n the r e g i o n s u r r o u n d i n g the a n c i e n t c i t y of M a t u r a i i n Tamil Natu s t a t e , near the s o u t h e r n t i p of I n d i a .  A l t h o u g h most of the  d a t a p r e s e n t e d h e r e was g a t h e r e d d u r i n g t h a t y e a r , a c t u a l p r e p a r a t i o n s for  the p r o j e c t were begun i n 1974 when, as a s c h o l a r sponsored by the  S h a s t r i Indo-Canadian I n s t i t u t e , I was a b l e t o spend a y e a r s t u d y i n g T a m i l language a t M a t u r a i U n i v e r s i t y .  I t was d u r i n g f r e q u e n t t r i p s t o v a r i o u s  p a r t s of the s t a t e , w h i c h were encouraged by the u n i v e r s i t y f a c u l t y members, t h a t I f i r s t became aware of the work of T a m i l p o t t e r s . W h i l e i n I n d i a , I used c l a y p o t s e v e r y day, p r i m a r i l y t o s t o r e d r i n k i n g w a t e r , y e t the o b j e c t s which f i r s t a t t r a c t e d my a t t e n t i o n were massive c l a y images of d e i t i e s mounted on h o r s e s which s t a n d a t s m a l l r u r a l temples.  From what c o u l d be observed from the window of a t r a i n or  bus, these were d i f f e r e n t i n c o n s t r u c t i o n and s t y l e from the well-known stone s c u l p t u r e s which e m b e l l i s h the g r e a t temples of the s t a t e . At images. the  f i r s t , I made l i t t l e p r o g r e s s i n l e a r n i n g about t h e s e e x t r a o r d i n a r y Even l o c a l s c h o l a r s knowledgeable about the a r t and h i s t o r y of  r e g i o n knew l i t t l e about the f i g u r e s o r who made them.  through the h e l p of Mr. A.V. Temple A r t Museum, I was  Fortunately,  Jeyachandrun, then D i r e c t o r of the Meenakshi  i n t r o d u c e d t o Mr. K. Muttucami, and the p r o c e s s  began by w h i c h t h i s t h e s i s was r e s e a r c h e d and w r i t t e n .  Mr. Muttucami i s  a drawing master ( a r t i n s t r u c t o r ) a t an e l e m e n t a r y s c h o o l near M a t u r a i , and c r u c i a l f o r my i n t e r e s t , a member of a p o t t e r community which uses the  t i t l e "Velar".  I soon became aware t h a t i t was p o t t e r s and, i n the  -xii-  Maturai  region,  to l e a r n .  the V e l a r , who  built  the temple images about which I wished  D u r i n g days when n e i t h e r of us was  rode our b i c y c l e s i n t o the c o u n t r y s i d e ,  i n c l a s s , Muttucami and  visiting  temples at which  the  images stood and  meeting p o t t e r s i n the v i l l a g e s .  these e x c u r s i o n s  became the b a s i s f o r a s h o r t r e s e a r c h paper on c l a y image  making which f u l f i l l e d At entered  notes made d u r i n g  a requirement of the u n i v e r s i t y programme.  the c o n c l u s i o n of my  language study, I l e f t  South I n d i a  a graduate programme i n Museology at C a l c u t t a U n i v e r s i t y .  studying  i n Bengal d u r i n g  on each o c c a s i o n  1975  spending a few  and  1976  This v i l l a g e ,  I was  images, but  life.  l i v e s on  several  I t was  and While times, s e e i n g more  the western edge of the  l a t e r to l e a r n , i s the home of the  of p o t t e r s i n the r e g i o n . not o n l y  I v i s i t e d Maturai  days or weeks w i t h Muttucami and  of Arappalaiyam, the v i l l a g e where he  Indian  The  I  l a r g e s t community  here that I e v e n t u a l l y r e t u r n e d  the e n t i r e c r a f t of the p o t t e r and  city.  to study  i t s r o l e i n South  INTRODUCTION  Approaches t o a r t i n the l i t e r a t u r e of anthropology d i v e r s e , y e t the study o f a r t has f a l l e n behind of  cultural  life.  the study o f o t h e r a s p e c t s  A f t e r a comprehensive survey of w r i t i n g by a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s  on a r t i n 1960, H.D. Gunn concluded  that  a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s c o n t r i b u t e d so l i t t l e , paragraph,  a r e many and  "probably i n no o t h e r f i e l d  n o t w i t h s t a n d i n g paragraph  have  upon  page upon page, chapter upon c h a p t e r , and a goodly number of  volumes by a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s d e a l i n g w i t h a r t ; and i n no o t h e r do they appear to  be more complacent  w i t h t h e i r achievement" (1960:106).  S i n c e t h i s was  w r i t t e n , much p r o g r e s s has been made, n e v e r t h e l e s s the approaches of many a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s to the s u b j e c t o f a r t have been one of u n c h a r a c t e r i s t i c " u n e a s i n e s s " (Berndt 1971:100). (or  w r i t e ) about"  A r t remains  " n o t o r i o u s l y hard t o t a l k  (Geertz 1976:1473).  D i s c u s s i o n s o f a r t seem t o r i n g h o l l o w , become d i l u t e d and to i n t r u d e on a p p r e c i a t i o n of the c r e a t i v e e x p r e s s i o n i t s e l f . arises continually;  i f o t h e r s chose  to express themselves  A question i n carving,  p a i n t i n g o r dance, c a n we grasp the meaning of these e x p r e s s i o n s v e r b a l o r w r i t t e n statements?  There  through  always e x i s t s the u n d e r l y i n g s u s p i c i o n ,  w e l l c u l t i v a t e d by our own r e c e n t a r t i s t i c  traditions,  that  i f a creative  e x p r e s s i o n has to be d i s c u s s e d , i t w i l l never r e a l l y be understood. Many a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s d e c o r a t e t h e i r homes o r o f f i c e s w i t h works of art  collected  from people whom they s t u d i e d , people who y i e l d e d  i n f o r m a t i o n about k i n s h i p , economy o r r e l i g i o n .  The o b j e c t s i n t h e i r new  c o n t e x t , more than mere mementos o r p o s s i b l e testaments sense o f beauty,-are for  the c u l t u r a l  tried  life  to understand.  f o r the owners  detailed  to a u n i v e r s a l  immediate l i n k s t o a p e r s o n a l f e e l i n g  of the people w i t h whom they l i v e d and who they The o b j e c t s become an accepted f e a t u r e , even a  symbol of the c u l t u r a l  s e n s i b i l i t y of a p a r t i c u l a r t r i b e or p e o p l e .  w h i l e o t h e r f e a t u r e s of c u l t u r a l integrated  did  and  art objects.  reason f o r t h i s may  be that the e a r l y development of  not f a v o u r the d i s c u s s i o n o f q u e s t i o n s i n v o l v i n g the  between a r t and was  are m e t i c u l o u s l y documented  i n t o a c o n c e p t i o n of t h i s s e n s i b i l i t y , q u e s t i o n s of a comparable  depth are r a r e l y asked about One  life  Yet,  culture.  The  anthropology  relationship  e a r l y phase of the study of a r t i n anthropology  c l o s e l y a s s o c i a t e d w i t h archaeology and museology and  the study of  o b j e c t s i n these d i s c i p l i n e s was  c a r r i e d out without d i r e c t a c c e s s to t h e i r  c r e a t o r s or o r i g i n a l consumers.  Until  called  " p r i m i t i v e a r t s " were mainly o b j e c t s i n museum c o l l e c t i o n s ,  these m a t e r i a l s were c l a s s i f i e d , to  the t u r n of the c e n t u r y , what were  their original  and  compared and a n a l y s e d w i t h l i m i t e d r e f e r e n c e  s i t u a t i o n or meaning.  Throughout the e a r l y p a r t of  c e n t u r y , a r t o b j e c t s were seen l a r g e l y as "by-products  this  or instruments of  other c a t e g o r i e s of s o c i a l phenomena more amenable to a n a l y s i s or s t r u c t u r i n g , f o r example, p o l i t i c a l , (d'Azevedo 1958:703). o b j e c t s was  economic or k i n s h i p  I n f o r m a t i o n about  gathered as a secondary  activities"  the o r i g i n a l use and meaning of  f u n c t i o n i n the course of f i e l d w o r k on  s u b j e c t s c o n s i d e r e d more r e l e v a n t to a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l i n q u i r y . i n f o r m a t i o n was  simply i g n o r e d .  Raymond F i r t h has  suggested  Often  that d e s p i t e  an e a r l y r e c o g n i t i o n of the " u n i v e r s a l i t y of a r t i n man's s o c i a l i t was  until  r e c e n t l y a commonly h e l d b e l i e f  "economic a c t i v i t y  history",  that while  ( f o r example) i s a n e c e s s i t y . . . a r t i s a l u x u r y " and  l e s s c r u c i a l an o b j e c t of study While  i n anthropology  such  (Firth  1951:155).  a r t as a s u b j e c t of study was  simply of l i t t l e  interest  many a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s , f o r o t h e r s i t c o n s t i t u t e d a t h r e a t to the  to  ongoing  quest of the d i s c i p l i n e to adopt more r i g o r o u s standards i n order to be  thus  r e c o g n i z e d as a s c i e n c e .  T a l k of c r e a t i v i t y and  the ephemeral realm of  a e s t h e t i c s p r e s e n t e d the s p e c t r e o f a human a c t i v i t y which might be to  the more p r e s t i g i o u s q u a n t i t a t i v e and  (see  comments by Otten 1971  and Dutton  With a renewed i n t e r e s t  scientific  contemporary, f o l k and  i n the emic approach,  life  the  the c o n s i d e r a t i o n of a r t An enthusiasm  the i n v e s t i g a t i o n of t h e i r  for social  i n t o the more c o n v e n t i o n a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n of  p r i m i t i v e a r t s from s m a l l s o c i e t i e s . of  phenomenology, and  f o o t h o l d i n anthropology.  t o u r i s t a r t s and  meaning has breathed new  anthropology  1977).  e p i s t e m o l o g i c a l f o u n d a t i o n s of the study of man, has r e c e n t l y gained a new  methods of  impervious  There  remains, n o n e t h e l e s s , a l e g a c y  overwhelming emphasis on a r t as o b j e c t r a t h e r than as human b e h a v i o u r .  F r e q u e n t l y , "the p r o c e s s e s of a r t are obscured by emphasis upon i t s formal p r o d u c t " (d'Azevedo 1958:703, a l s o Merriam 1964:234). t e c h n i c a l language formal a n a l y s i s .  has developed Too  It  sophisticated  a l o n g w i t h a methodology which  o f t e n , i s o l a t i o n of the  stresses  'grammar' of c o l o u r , l i n e ,  composition and harmony tends to become an end r u l e s alone are used  A very  in itself,  and  these formal  t o e x p l a i n the source of a e s t h e t i c power.  i s the main premise  of t h i s t h e s i s t h a t an a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l  u n d e r s t a n d i n g r e q u i r e s t h a t i n the study of a r t , the o b j e c t must be incorporated  into  the c o n t e x t of o t h e r e x p r e s s i o n s of human endeavour.  To be comprehended, c r e a t i v e e x p r e s s i o n must be a s s i m i l a t e d w i t h i n the course of c o l l e c t i v e  social existence.  An attempt  that forms of a r t not o n l y exemplify a c u l t u r a l modes of s o c i a l a c t i v i t y  i n g e n e r a t i n g that  From the o u t s e t the assumption based  will  i n more than v i r t u o s i t y or i n t r i n s i c  w i l l be made to  demonstrate  sense but j o i n w i t h o t h e r  sense. be made t h a t a e s t h e t i c power i s a p p e a l , and  meaning of a r t l i e s beyond t e c h n i c a l a p p r e c i a t i o n .  the l o c u s f o r the  In a d d i t i o n , i t w i l l  be  assumed t h a t the r e l a t i o n s h i p between a r t and i n s t r u m e n t a l one,  s o c i e t y i s not merely  t h a t i s , t h a t a r t i s not o n l y a f u n c t i o n a l mechanism f o r  d e f i n i n g , s t r e n g t h e n i n g or s u s t a i n i n g c o n v e n t i o n a l v a l u e s . w i l l be e x p l o r e d as m a n i f e s t a t i o n s of a t t i t u d e s , b e l i e f s , brought i n t o b e i n g i n a way T h i s encounter  which can be encountered  and  c o n s i s t s not o n l y of the c o n t e m p l a t i o n  but a l s o t h e i r ongoing r e g e n e r a t i o n and becomes a focus and  by  elaboration.  the concept  and  experienced.  Artistic  o n l y by d i r e c t r e f e r e n c e to another. expressions The  connect  strategy for e l i c i t i n g  of a r t has  experiences.  of works of a r t as  According  to G e e r t z ,  fully  in  explained  " a l l cultural  they j o i n i n c r e a t i n g " (1976:1480).  the c u l t u r a l meanings embodied i n works of the o b j e c t i n  the one hand t h i s complements approaches which have r e l i e d on and  c l a s s i f i c a t i o n of o b j e c t s .  d i r e c t i o n e n t i r e l y , one  c r e a t i o n and meaning.  illustrations  e x p r e s s i o n s become meaningful  a t i t s core the study of the a r t i s t a t work and  contemplation another  to a s e n s i b i l i t y  ideas,  The work of a r t  c o n j u n c t i o n w i t h o t h e r s o c i a l e x p r e s s i o n s and none can be  On  possibilities  documents"''' i n r e l a t i o n to s o c i e t y r a t h e r than merely  of messages a l r e a d y i n f o r c e .  use.  Works of a r t  of c e n t r a l  c a t a l y s t f o r c u l t u r a l l y meaningful  T h i s p e r s p e c t i v e i s informed "primary  an  The  trait  A f r i c a , a c c o r d i n g to F a b i a n and s u b t l e t y and  complexity  production.  Even more important  the o t h e r , i t suggests  i n which the study of the process  use of the o b j e c t i s the key most s t r i k i n g  On  to u n d e r s t a n d i n g  of r e c e n t c r i t i c a l  Szombati-Fabian,  the  of  significance  and  a p p r a i s a l s of a r t i n  i s the " i n c r e a s i n g  i n t r a c i n g the c o n t e x t u a l determinants  of a r t  are the s i g n s of an e p i s t e m o l o g i c a l  T h i s concept, f i r s t o u t l i n e d by Goldwater (1973:10), has been d i s c u s s e d by Geertz (1976:1478) and by F a b i a n & Szombati-Fabian (1980:257).  breakthrough, the r e a l i z a t i o n t h a t new field  and s i g n i f i c a n t knowledge i n t h i s  can be generated when the ethnographer i n t e r a c t s through o b j e c t s w i t h  t h e i r producers and consumers"  (1980:263).  T h i s study i n v o l v e s the c a r e f u l documentation of the a r t i s t ' s c a p a c i t i e s of c r e a t i v i t y and of the audience's c a p a c i t i e s meaning i n t h a t c r e a t i v i t y .  The a r t i s t r e l i e s on the c o n t r i b u t i o n of the  audience or consumer i n r e s p o n d i n g to h i s c r e a t i o n . to s o l i c i t  t h a t response.  to e x p e r i e n c e  H i s work i s designed  I t i s from t h i s p e r s p e c t i v e not o n l y  that s t a t i c a l l y d e p i c t s c u l t u r a l them w i t h each m a n i f e s t a t i o n .  ideas but a l s o something t h a t  something enriches  Thus our f o c u s i s not only o b j e c t s but a l s o  the s i t u a t i o n s which are the source of t h e i r power, the f a c t o r s which make them m e a n i n g f u l .  These f a c t o r s have,  i n each c u l t u r e , a p a r t i c u l a r  form  and c o n t e n t , and t h i s t h e s i s has taken as i t s f o c u s the a r t of a community i n South I n d i a .  The members of t h i s community are p o t t e r s whose  and s e r v i c e s are a prominent p a r t of South I n d i a n v i l l a g e thesis w i l l  life.  skills The  e x p l o r e the ways i n which the p o t t e r s ' c r e a t i o n of pots and  of r e l i g i o u s  images, which we might  initially  tend to d i s t i n g u i s h as  d i f f e r e n t realms of c r e a t i v i t y , are i n South I n d i a e x p r e s s i o n s of an integral how  s e t o f s k i l l s and ideas about l i v i n g .  It w i l l  go f u r t h e r to show  a s e r i e s of r i t u a l s performed by the p o t t e r s u t i l i z e s  and meanings p r o f o u n d l y r e l a t e d purpose i s to demonstrate how  a s e t of  skills  to those used i n pot and image making.  the i n t e g r i t y of seemingly d i s p a r a t e  The  facets  of the work of a community of a r t i s t s can be e s t a b l i s h e d a t the l e v e l of c u l t u r a l meaning, and how  different  forms of c r e a t i v i t y  are u n i f i e d by a  common sense of e x i s t e n c e . The  t h e o r e t i c a l p e r s p e c t i v e of t h i s p r e s e n t a t i o n , w h i l e drawing on  d i s c u s s i o n s by G e e r t z and F a b i a n , and the e t h n o g r a p h i c s t u d i e s of  a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s such as Forge  (1967) and Thompson (1973), has  through a p e r s p e c t i v e d i f f e r e n t sought  from p r e v i o u s s t u d i e s .  the ways i n which a type or form of a r t i s t i c  meaningful  ways, a fundamental  s e t of i s s u e s .  Indian c u l t u r a l  T a m i l Natu,  It w i l l  the  they address i n d i f f e r e n t  then be my  ideas and b e l i e f s .  summary of a theme to be developed In  e x p r e s s i o n becomes  types of c r e a t i v e a c t i v i t y i n  the work of a s i n g l e community of a r t i s t s , how  wider  Whereas o t h e r s have  i n a wider c u l t u r a l c o n t e x t , the o b j e c t here w i l l be to seek  b a s i s of i n t e g r a t i o n among s e v e r a l d i f f e r e n t  to  developed  The  task to l i n k  these  following gives a b r i e f  a c c o r d i n g to t h i s p e r s p e c t i v e .  c u l t u r e i s moulded by the apprehension of l i f e  as  b e i n g generated i n a c l o s e d s e t of matter, t h a t i s , a f i n i t e amount of l i f e p r o d u c t i v e substance.  Thus, every c r e a t i o n of a m a t e r i a l o b j e c t , a  human b e i n g , or the world i t s e l f , destruction.  A l l creation  this principle  c y c l e , every f a m i l y i n l i f e of  of  ritually  1  agricultural  c y c l e r i t e s , and every c r a f t s m a n i n the course  r e p r e s e n t s a potent e x p r e s s i o n of t h i s  local  of the p o t t e r s ' s p e c i a l  are p a r a l l e l e d by t h e i r a b i l i t i e s  shrines.  Each product c o n t a i n s l i f e  must be d e s t r o y e d so that l i f e  can be renewed.  India  The moulding  images, the c o n s e c r a t i o n of these o b j e c t s , t h e i r  i n e v i t a b l e d e s t r u c t i o n are elements  These s k i l l s  belief,  s e r v i c e s , people of South  t h e i r c o n c e p t i o n of the c r e a t i v e c y c l e .  e a r t h i n t o pots and  in  i n the course of the y e a r l y  through both the p o t t e r s ' p r o d u c t s and  a c t i v e l y address  and  Every farmer has a way  h i s work. The p o t t e r s ' c r a f t  and  to have emerged from a p r e v i o u s  i s e s s e n t i a l l y a r e - c r e a t i o n p r e d i c a t e d on the  d e s t r u c t i o n of what went b e f o r e . acknowledging  i s thought  as p r i e s t s of the  of  use  skills. sacrifice  f o r a set p e r i o d of time, but The p r o d u c t s  'melt' back  i n t o the e a r t h from whence they came and become the raw m a t e r i a l of  new  creation. The  r o l e of the p o t t e r  i s dangerous and  As  every b i r t h and  is  the c r e a t i v i t y which u n d e r l i e s  are  the raw  renewal i s c o n s i d e r e d  materials  of new  destruction lingers. and  The  e s s e n t i a l products,  chaos of the unformed and vital.  His  people l o c a t e , c o n t a i n , to be  of the p o t t e r  creativity  the  fertility,  the pots and  remains of past  t a i n t of  more i m p o r t a n t l y  along  and  s u p p l i c a t e the  life  itself.  l o c a l d e i t i e s who  are  In the most i n t e n s e  r e l a t i o n s h i p , the potter, may creates, a container consecrated,  the  and  pass between. Indian believed I t i s the p r o c e s s of  to approach the dangerous d e i t i e s most  important  expression  of  p e r i o d i c a l l y become, l i k e  f o r the d e i t y .  His own  body,  becomes l i k e h i s work i n earthenware,  temporary l o c u s of d i v i n e power and  creative  materials  the boundary between  images are a primary means by which South  h e a l t h , and  p r e p a r e d , d r e s s e d , and  creations  the c o n t r o l of the u s e f u l  constantly  so  previous  to work c l o s e l y w i t h the e v e r - r e c u r r i n g  images he  to e v i l  the boundary between raw  d e t e r i o r a t i n g and  that enables him  this extraordinary  the  The  vulnerable  the e s s e n t i a l patrons of the flow of the c r e a t i v e c y c l e .  ability  for  the c r a f t .  c r e a t i o n s and  c r a f t demands t h a t he  Earthen pots and  p a i n f u l and  p o t t e r moves on  and  involves r i t u a l p o l l u t i o n .  a further expression  of h i s  skill.  In South I n d i a , the concepts of p e r i o d i c r e - c r e a t i o n and are p a r t of a c e n t r a l c u l t u r a l f o r c e s of n a t u r e and  the d i v i n e are b e l i e v e d  r o l e t h a t the p o t t e r p l a y s this society l i e s  sensibility,  one  i n which a l l people  to p a r t i c i p a t e .  i n the domestic, a r t i s t i c  i n much more than the  p r o d u c t s of t h e i r c r e a t i v i t y .  It l i e s  the p r o c e s s e s by which m a t e r i a l s , and  renewal  and  intrinsic utility  The  ritual  and  important  life  of  or beauty of  the  a l s o i n t h e i r c o n t r i b u t i o n toward ultimately l i f e  i t s e l f may  be  8.  c r e a t e d , broken down, and Although my  reconstituted.  r e s e a r c h i s p r i m a r i l y e t h n o g r a p h i c , the a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l  study of a r t i n I n d i a demands an approach  which i s d i f f e r e n t from  a p p l i e d i n many o t h e r p a r t s o f the w o r l d .  The  f a m i l i a r method of  anthropology, a s i n g l e f i e l d w o r k e r engaged e x c l u s i v e l y o b s e r v a t i o n w i t h a s m a l l group, l i k e India.  Although  social  in participant-  needs to be m o d i f i e d i n a complex  the f o c u s may  that  be, as i n t h i s c a s e , a s i n g l e  society group,  "the r e a l o b j e c t becomes a more w i d e l y shared, complex p a t t e r n of v a l u e s and  social principles"  (Dumont 1966:327).  In complex s o c i e t i e s w i t h a l o n g r e c o r d e d p a s t and an i n t r i c a t e s c r i p t u r a l t r a d i t i o n , such as I n d i a , i t was soon r e c o g n i z e d t h a t the study of a p a r t i c u l a r group had to take i n t o account the o v e r - a l l c i v i l i z a t i o n , and t h e r e f o r e , the f i n d i n g s of c l a s s i c a l s t u d i e s (Heesterman 1966:336).  The  impetus toward  a r e s e a r c h s t r a t e g y which b a l a n c e s t e x t u a l and  m a t e r i a l comes from b o t h the c l a s s i c a l and  s c h o l a r ( B i a r d e a u 1966:330, 1977:55)  the a n t h r o p o l o g i s t ( S i n g e r 1972:39-50).  mastering both approaches,  each has  ethnographic  Given the d i f f i c u l t y  of  come to' r e c o g n i z e the v a l u e of  co-operation. F o r the student of South c r u c i a l g i v e n the apparent  I n d i a n c u l t u r e , t h i s c o - o p e r a t i o n seems  gap between Brahmanical  t e x t s upon which many s o c i a l and h i s t o r i c a l are based The  and  i d e a s expressed  t h e o r i e s about  Indian culture  the o b s e r v a t i o n s of l o c a l and r e g i o n a l h a b i t s and  seeming d i s p a r i t y between " h i g h " and  i n the  customs.  "low", a n c i e n t and modern, urban  and r u r a l which s t r u c k e a r l y o b s e r v e r s as a major stumbling b l o c k i n u n d e r s t a n d i n g c u l t u r e i n South f i e l d s as mythology  I n d i a has been s u c c e s s f u l l y b r i d g e d i n such  (Shulman 1980), h i s t o r y  ( S t e i n 1968,  1969,  1980),  f o l k l o r e and  ritual  (Dumont 1970a, b ) .  (Beck 1972,  1982), and  In each case  the ways i n which they operated In every of  i n general  t h e o r i e s of  caste  the r e s e a r c h d e l i n e a t e d b a s i c p r i n c i p l e s or were e l a b o r a t e d i n p a r t i c u l a r  i n s t a n c e the r e s e a r c h i n v o l v e d i n t e n s i v e f i e l d w o r k and  and  circumstances. the knowledge  contemporary South I n d i a n l i f e p r o j e c t e d a g a i n s t a background of t e x t u a l  traditions. offered  In t h i s t h e s i s , t e x t s and  "not as h i s t o r i c a l evidence  i n f o r m a t i o n gleaned  from them are  w i t h which i t i s presumed the  present  must a c c o r d , but r a t h e r as o f f e r i n g c e r t a i n systems of ideas w i t h which present  the  can be compared" (Dumont & Pocock 1958:27). Informed of t h i s p e r s p e c t i v e , Chapter I of t h i s t h e s i s  c o n v e n t i o n a l n o t i o n s about I n d i a n c r a f t s m a n s h i p  i n a broad  then works through p r o g r e s s i v e l y t i g h t e r c i r c l e s  reviews  perspective  to focus on South  and  Indian  p o t t e r s i n Chapter I I and a p a r t i c u l a r community of p o t t e r s i n Chapter I I I . These f i r s t  three chapters  p o t t e r s l i v e and work. the c r a f t  i s exercised.  image making, and  d e s c r i b e the s o c i a l framework w i t h i n which  Chapter IV i d e n t i f i e s  the c r u c i a l  " r i g h t s " by which  Chapters V, VI, and VII document the pot making,  p r i e s t l y a s p e c t s of the p o t t e r s ' c r a f t .  three c h a p t e r s become p r o g r e s s i v e l y broader  These  i n p e r s p e c t i v e to r e v e a l the  i d e o l o g i c a l framework w i t h i n which the work of p o t t e r s has  meaning.  As a f i n a l note to t h i s i n t r o d u c t i o n , something must be my  use  of the terms  anthropology  has  'primitive a r t ' . have generated  'craft'.  f o r the most p a r t c e n t e r e d  study  T h e i r use  in relationship  1979).  The  study  about  of c r e a t i v i t y i n  around what has been c a l l e d  T h i s and o t h e r terms such as  c r e a t i v i t y w i t h i n anthropology  example S i l v e r  The  said  ' f o l k a r t ' , or  'tribal art'  s u b s t a n t i a l debate (Gerbands 1957:9-24, H a s e l b e r g e r  Graburn 1976:5). of  ' a r t ' and  final  1961,  to the development of the  has been e x t e n s i v e l y d i s c u s s e d of a r t i n anthropology  has been  study  (see f o r limited  10.  for  the most p a r t t o those s o c i e t i e s  and  uncomplicated by a m u l t i p l i c i t y of forms or s t y l e s ,  specialists. societies  The primary i n t e r e s t  generated i n t e r e s t s  motivation.  where a r t i s t i c  o r by a v a r i e t y of scale  i n s t y l e , p e r s o n a l c r e a t i v i t y , and  There has been l e s s  study of c r e a t i v i t y  ' a r t ' and t h a t of common people as ' c r a f t ' .  i n what i s c o n s i d e r e d  i n complex  societies,  i s commonly r e f e r r e d  to as  There has been a g e n e r a l  d e v a l u a t i o n of the term c r a f t and the c r e a t i v i t y interest  i s uniform  of a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s i n s m a l l  where the c r e a t i v i t y of the past o r the e l i t e  little  creativity  a s s o c i a t e d w i t h i t , and  i t s quality  of  duplication,  workmanlike s k i l l s and mass p r o d u c t i o n . In  this thesis  s o c i a l dimension. tions or  make l i t t l e  'specialty'  creators. gallery, by  I am concerned w i t h the p r o c e s s of c r e a t i v i t y  As s h a l l become apparent, t r a d i t i o n a l  Indian  d i s t i n c t i o n between 'sacred' or 'profane',  or what we might l a b e l  a r t and c r a f t  Today, the p o t t e r s ' work may be c a l l e d  in its  classifica-  'utilitarian'  i n the work of I n d i a n  'art'  i n a museum or  ' c r a f t ' by an I n d i a n government agency or 'mud work' (man v e l a i )  p o t t e r s themselves.  F o r the purpose of t h i s  thesis,  I will  refer  to the  work of the I n d i a n p o t t e r by the term which i s most w i d e l y used by those who have w r i t t e n on the s u b j e c t , t h a t referred  to as 'craftsmen'.  i s , 'craft'.  The p o t t e r s w i l l be  The words used by p o t t e r s to d e s c r i b e  themselves and t h e i r work i n i t s v a r i o u s phases w i l l be i n t r o d u c e d i n subsequent  sections.  CHAPTER I THE STUDY OF INDIAN CRAFTSMANSHIP (a)  Overview J o u r n a l s and r e p o r t s of e a r l y t r a v e l l e r s to I n d i a take  frequent  n o t i c e of the q u a l i t y and v a r i e t y of the work of I n d i a n c r a f t s m e n .  Visitors  m a r v e l l e d a t the monumental s c a l e of the g r e a t temples and the d e l i c a c y of woven f a b r i c s .  F o r e i g n t r a d e r s of a n c i e n t p e r i o d s brought raw m a t e r i a l s t o  the I n d i a n s e a p o r t s and r e t u r n e d t o the M i d d l e E a s t , o r C h i n a , not o n l y w i t h spices but w i t h f i n i s h e d products  of a l l k i n d s .  According to  C e l e s t i n Bougie, " I t was n o t o n l y the g i f t s of i t s s o i l , b u t a l s o the work of i t s a r t i s a n s which p e r p e t u a t e d (1908:164). market.  I n d i a ' s r e p u t a t i o n throughout the c e n t u r i e s "  I n d i a n a r t and c r a f t has r e t a i n e d i t s r e p u t a t i o n i n the w o r l d  There a r e I n d i a n c r a f t s m e n who c o n t i n u a l l y adapt t h e i r  p r o c e s s e s , m a t e r i a l s and p r o d u c t s  working  to the needs of the e x p o r t and t o u r i s t  t r a d e , as c r a f t s m e n have s i n c e a t l e a s t the s i x t e e n t h c e n t u r y .  Yet t h e r e  are a l s o i n I n d i a v a s t numbers of c r a f t s m e n whose work i s d i r e c t e d e x c l u s i v e l y toward l o c a l consumption and which never l e a v e s a l i m i t e d territory.  Very l i t t l e has been w r i t t e n about these l o c a l c r a f t s m e n  r o l e they p l a y i n I n d i a n c u l t u r a l  or the  life.  Most o f what i s known about I n d i a n c r a f t s m a n s h i p  can be c r e d i t e d t o  I n d o l o g i s t s and a r t h i s t o r i a n s , whose study of temples and s c u l p t u r e , augmented by r e f e r e n c e to c l a s s i c a l t e x t s and i n s c r i p t i o n s i s w e l l established.  The p r i m a r y  l o c u s o f t h e i r work has been the a r c h a e o l o g i c a l  s i t e , a r c h i v e , l i b r a r y and museum. to  The p e r s p e c t i v e which has developed  some e x t e n t i n f l u e n c e d the p e r c e p t i o n s of s c h o l a r s i n other- f i e l d s ,  and  i n c l u d i n g a n t h r o p o l o g y , has been f o r m a l , m a t e r i a l , and d i r e c t e d toward past.  An o p i n i o n s t i l l p r e v a i l s among many people who  the  study I n d i a n a r t and  c r a f t t h a t the b e s t t r a d i t i o n a l c r a f t work d i e d out some time b e f o r e the end of the Mughal P e r i o d ( s e v e n t e e n t h c e n t u r y ) and t h a t by the time the B r i t i s h were e s t a b l i s h e d i n I n d i a , t h e r e were few l i v i n g c r a f t  traditions  worthy of study.''" The use of d i s t i n c t i o n s between the terms " a r t " and " c r a f t " based on i d e a s f o r m u l a t e d through the l e g a c y of the European Rennaissance  made i t  v i r t u a l l y i m p o s s i b l e f o r I n d o l o g i s t s to draw u s e f u l c o n n e c t i o n s between the I n d i a n " c r a f t s m e n " they saw a t work and the " g r e a t a r t i s t s " of e a r l i e r p e r i o d s who  b u i l t the g r e a t temples.^ To these s c h o l a r s , the i l l i t e r a t e  and  o f t e n low s t a t u s c r a f t s m e n i n the v i l l a g e or s t r e e t p r e s e n t e d a r e a l i t y i n c o n s i s t e n t w i t h the r o m a n t i c image of c r a f t s m e n of the c l a s s i c a l p a s t , one which d i d n o t f i t i n t o n a t i o n a l i s t hopes of a c l a s s i c a l " a r t i s t i c b e i n g promoted i n the B r i t i s h - f o u n d e d a r t s c h o o l s of Madras and I t was  revival  Calcutta.  the "sumptuary" a r t s , as opposed to the " v i l l a g e " or "savage" ones  (Birdwood  1880:141) which a t t r a c t e d a t t e n t i o n and became a f o c u s f o r s t u d y .  Craftsmen who  worked w i t h p r e c i o u s , r a t h e r than o r d i n a r y m a t e r i a l s were  n o t i c e d , as were those whose work was r u l e r s r a t h e r than those who  d i r e c t e d toward  the c o u r t s or c o l o n i a l  worked f o r t h e i r communities or n e i g h b o r s .  S u b j e c t s of i n t e r e s t were the systems of patronage  and t o o l s or  techniques  At the t u r n of the c e n t u r y , the o f f i c i a l guide book of the V i c t o r i a and A l b e r t Museum i n London suggested t h a t by the medieval p e r i o d , " h i g h e r forms" of a r t had become "unknown" i n I n d i a ( H a v e l l 1 9 1 1 : x v i i ) . T h i s f i t w e l l w i t h i d e a l i s t i c n o t i o n s of a g r a d u a l c o r r u p t i o n of a n c i e n t p u r i t y i n I n d i a n p h i l o s o p h y , s c i e n c e , and p o l i t i c s which were a l s o p r e v a l e n t a t the t i m e . These n o t i o n s show a remarkable p e r s i s t e n c e i n contemporary scholarship.  13. of  the monument b u i l d e r s and w e a l t h y g u i l d s of a n c i e n t c i t i e s .  Because  I n d i a n a r t and c r a f t has been s t u d i e d p r i m a r i l y through these monuments and remains,  l i t t l e was  r e c o r d e d about c r a f t p r o c e s s e s , e s p e c i a l l y those  i n v o l v e p r o d u c t s of a temporary replacement  which  n a t u r e , the d e t e r i o r a t i o n or d e s t r u c t i o n and  of which are an i n t e g r a l p a r t of t h e i r use and meaning.  A widespread  a t t i t u d e e v i d e n t i n s t u d i e s of I n d i a n a r t and c r a f t  was  based on the b e l i e f t h a t c r a f t s m e n have worked s i n c e time immemorial i n the same c o n t e x t , u s i n g the same t e c h n i q u e s , and thus t h a t t h e r e was  little  to  go beyond the t e x t s which so d e f i n i t i v e l y o u t l i n e the f o r m a l  parameters  of  craft.  I t was  need  assumed t h a t c r a f t s m e n are c o n s e r v a t i v e , anonymous and  u n d i s t i n g u i s h e d , t h e i r work a d i r e c t r e f l e c t i o n of p r i m o r d i a l t a s t e s and values.  "To seek f o r a l i k e n e s s to men,  s e n t i m e n t s i n I n d i a n a r t i s merely 1964:21).  or the e x p r e s s i o n of t r a n s i e n t  to seek f o r i t s weak moments" (Coomaraswamy  Because of the b e l i e f i n the anonymity and c o n s e r v a t i s m of the  I n d i a n c r a f t s m a n and the s i m p l e d u p l i c a t i o n s of s t a n d a r d forms from g e n e r a t i o n to g e n e r a t i o n , t h e r e was  l i t t l e v a l u e a t t a c h e d to i s o l a t i n g  i n d i v i d u a l s or groups of c r a f t s m e n f o r study. eminent a r t h i s t o r i a n was  Ananda Coomaraswamy, the  p r o b a b l y most i n f l u e n t i a l i n a s s e r t i n g  this  p o s i t i o n by c o n c e n t r a t i n g on the "immutable", " e t e r n a l " and " a b s o l u t e " laws of  craftsmanship  (1909).  But what are these " l a w s " and how  do they apply?  This chapter  o u t l i n e s some of the c o n v e n t i o n a l i d e a l s of c r a f t s m a n s h i p i n I n d i a , most of  them drawn from c l a s s i c a l Hindu t e x t s , n o t a b l y the Agamas, Puranas and  Vastusastras.  These i d e a l s are  w e l l known i n I n d i a n s t u d i e s and  r e p e a t e d i n one v e r s i o n or another by most w r i t e r s who craftsmen. (1909, 1934,  are  have r e f e r r e d to  The b a s i c sources are a c c e s s i b l e through the work of Coomaraswamy 1957,  1965).  Based on these and the l a t e r works of K r a m r i s c h  14. (1959, 1968), o t h e r s c h o l a r s i n c l u d i n g Hocart (1958), S i n g e r (1959, 1960)  (1950), Basham (1954), Weber  and more r e c e n t l y Maduro (1976) and Brouwer  (1977) have r e i t e r a t e d and o c c a s i o n a l l y e l a b o r a t e d upon the i d e a l s of craftmanship.  The purpose of summarizing them here i s not s i m p l y to p r o v i d e  a background to a d i s c u s s i o n of the work of a p a r t i c u l a r community of c r a f t s m e n , but a l s o to i d e n t i f y some ambiguous q u a l i t i e s which seem i n h e r e n t in  these "immutable laws" and which have thus f a r provoked l i t t l e comment or  discussion i n Indian studies.  Moreover, when these c o n v e n t i o n a l n o t i o n s  about I n d i a n c r a f t s m e n are compared to independent h i s t o r i c a l and  ethnographic  s o u r c e s , e s p e c i a l l y those w h i c h d e a l w i t h South I n d i a , a s e r i e s of c o n t r a d i c t i o n s or i n c o n s i s t e n c i e s i s encountered. to  them throughout  to  e s t a b l i s h how  By i d e n t i f y i n g some of these and  the subsequent p r e s e n t a t i o n of my d a t a , i t w i l l be p o s s i b l e  they r e l a t e to i s s u e s and dilemmas i n the l i f e of  c r a f t s m e n , and t o w i d e r i s s u e s i n South I n d i a n c u l t u r a l  (b)  referring  working  life.  Settings Prominent i n the accounts  of the h i s t o r y of c r a f t s m a n s h i p has been  a d i s t i n c t i o n between d i f f e r e n t s i t u a t i o n s o r s e t t i n g s i n which the c r a f t s are e x e r c i s e d ( K r a m r i s c h 1959:21, Maduro 1976:77-78, Weber 1958:95).  The  t h r e e types which are d i s t i n g u i s h e d a r e : the c o u r t s e t t i n g , w i t h work done as a r o y a l s e r v a n t f o r a k i n g , head of a r e l i g i o u s o r d e r or temple; g u i l d s e t t i n g , w i t h work done as a member of an urban c r a f t and the v i l l a g e s e t t i n g w i t h work done as a member of an community.  the  association;  agricultural  15. (i) The  The  Court  f o u r t h c e n t u r y B.C.  grammarian P a n i n i d i s t i n g u i s h e d between  "grama s h i l p i n " , o r v i l l a g e c r a f t s m a n and " r a j a s h i l p i n " , or r o y a l ( K r a m r i s c h 1968:51).  craftsman  The r o y a l c r a f t s m e n were s e t t l e d by k i n g s i n p l a c e s  a d j a c e n t to the c o u r t s o r c o n s t r u c t i o n p r o j e c t s (Weber 1958:96-7). was  the p a t r o n of the a r t s and c r a f t s and no c o u r t was  complement of c r a f t s m e n .  The  king  complete w i t h o u t i t s  E l a b o r a t e d e t a i l s of the economic arrangements  and p r i v i l e g e s of r o y a l c r a f t s m e n i n the S i n h a l e s e c o u r t of Kandy are reviewed by Coomaraswamy  (1909).  In the c o u r t l y s i t u a t i o n , a commission c o u l d be f o r m a l and h e r e d i t a r y or c o u l d be g r a n t e d f o r a p a r t i c u l a r j o b .  I n s c r i p t i o n s from South I n d i a  p r o v i d e e x t e n s i v e e v i d e n c e of l a n d s and o t h e r r o y a l p r i v i l e g e s g r a n t e d  to  stone masons, g o l d s m i t h s , j e w e l l e r s , c a r p e n t e r s and p o t t e r s , to name o n l y a few  ( S h a s t r i 1976:319, K r a m r i s c h  1959:21, S t e i n 1980:197-99).  not o n l y b e n e f i t e d from s t a t e p a t r o n a g e ,  Craftsmen  but were a l s o s u b j e c t to s t a t e t a x .  D u r i n g c e r t a i n p e r i o d s they were among the groups a t c o u r t to p r o v i d e troops f o r the k i n g ' s armies  ( S t e i n 1980:49).  References  to the c o u r t l y  s e t t i n g of c r a f t s m a n s h i p i m p l y t h a t patronage p r o v i d e d s e c u r i t y , h e r e d i t a r y r i g h t s , a f i x e d s a l a r y , f o o d , and time to produce the f i n e s t work.''' S e r v i c e by c r a f t s m e n to temples and o t h e r r e l i g i o u s f o l l o w e d a s i m i l a r p a t t e r n to t h a t of r o y a l s e r v i c e . C o l a p e r i o d (10th - 12th C. A.D.)  establishments  In the  classical  of South I n d i a n h i s t o r y , f o r example,  s e r v i c e i n the c o n s t r u c t i o n of the g r e a t temples was  b o t h w e l l regarded  and  See f o r example the s t o r y of a j a d e bowl which took a s i n g l e f a m i l y of c r a f t s m e n t h r e e g e n e r a t i o n s t o f i n i s h , recounted by Birdwood (1880), Coomaraswamy (1909) and o t h e r s as an example of the " q u a l i t y of l e i s u r e i n o l d work which was one of i t s g r e a t e s t charms" (Coomaraswamy 1909:26).  16. w e l l remunerated ( S t e i n 1980:481).  E v i d e n c e from B u d d h i s t t e x t s and  records  of the B r i h a d i s v a r a Temple i n T a n j a v u r i n d i c a t e p r o v i s i o n f o r m a t e r i a l s , food and  e i t h e r c u l t i v a t i o n r i g h t s o r h a r v e s t shares i n p l o t s of  (Coomaraswamy 1909:45-7). temple and  The  land  p o s i t i o n of the k i n g as c h i e f p a t r o n of  the c l o s e a s s o c i a t i o n between o r g a n i z a t i o n of c o u r t l y and  l i f e i n terms of s e r v i c e shares or o c c u p a t i o n a l  the  temple  r i g h t s suggests a c o n t i n u i t y  between these s e t t i n g s f o r c r a f t a c t i v i t y .  (ii)  The  Much has described  Guild been w r i t t e n about a n c i e n t  I n d i a n g u i l d s ( s r e n i ) , which are  as " p o w e r f u l b o d i e s , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the g r e a t  ( K r a m r i s c h 1959:22).  cities"  They are known t o have e x i s t e d b e f o r e the time of  Asoka i n the t h i r d c e n t u r y B.C.  ( H a v e l l 1920:55).  Birdwood d e s c r i b e s  a  p r o c e s s by which v i l l a g e c r a f t s m e n , a f t e r h a v i n g t e r m i n a t e d t h e i r s e r v i c e i n a v i l l a g e , o r i n an e f f o r t to p r o v i d e which g r a d u a l l y grew around c e n t e r s  f o r a son,  sought work i n the towns  of government and  foreign  trade.  Birdwood goes on to a s s e r t t h a t "community i n t e r e s t would n a t u r a l l y draw t o g e t h e r the s k i l l e d immigrants of these c i t i e s i n t r a d e u n i o n s . . . " (1880: 137).  E a r l y poems l i k e the T a m i l e p i c , C i l a p p a t i k a r a m ,  r e f e r to the  streets  o c c u p i e d by c r a f t g u i l d s . L i k e those r o y a l c r a f t s m e n a l r e a d y worked under a u t h o r i t y of the k i n g , who to law  (Manu V I I . 4 1 ) ,  1959:22, 1956:338). member was Jataka  r e f e r r e d t o , the g u i l d members  e s t a b l i s h e d the g u i l d s  or gave the a u t h o r i t y to h i s t r e a s u r e r  (Kramrisch  U n l i k e the independent r o y a l c r a f t s m a n , the g u i l d  responsible  to h i s corporate o r g a n i z a t i o n .  t e x t , a g u i l d of p a i n t e r s l a i d down i t s own  by the k i n g  according  ( K r a m r i s c h 1959:22).  A c c o r d i n g to a n o t h e r  laws to be  respected  Many accounts of the o r g a n i z a t i o n of g u i l d s r e i t e r a t e major characteristics first  summarized by Birdwood (1880:138-42).  t r a d i t i o n a l o f f i c e s , f o r example, a " c o u r t a d u l t workers of f u l l  standing,  o f f i c e s were u s u a l l y h e r e d i t a r y . and  standards.  against  of aldermen" composed of a l l the  two g u i l d " c h i e f s " and a c l e r k . The g u i l d r e g u l a t e d  These  hours of work, p r i c e s ,  I n t h i s way g u i l d s safeguarded b o t h p a t r o n s and members  incompetence o r f r a u d .  l e v y f i n e s , and e x p e l d e v i a n t s . destitute.  These i n c l u d e  The g u i l d c o u l d c o l l e c t t a x e s from members, Support was p r o v i d e d  f o r the i n f i r m o r  I n s c r i p t i o n s a r e found throughout I n d i a which r e c o r d  by g u i l d s of t h e i r m a t e r i a l s  donations  and s k i l l s to r e l i g i o u s causes (Basham 1954:217,  K r a m r i s c h 1959:22).  The g u i l d "had power n o t o n l y over the economic b u t  a l s o the s o c i a l l i f e  of i t s members (Basham 1954:217).  Most d i s c u s s i o n s on g u i l d s draw comparisons w i t h c a s t e  organization.  Basham m a i n t a i n s t h a t " g u i l d and c a s t e o v e r l a p p e d i n f u n c t i o n o r were v i r t u a l l y synonymous...". d i r e c t l y into castes not  He .goes on t o suggest t h a t "many g u i l d s  turned  ( o r s u b c a s t e s ) o r , as d i v i s i o n s of p a r i a h t r i b e s , were  s e p a r a t e from them i n the f i r s t  place"  (Basham 1954:218).  Membership  i n a g u i l d , a l t h o u g h u s u a l l y h e r e d i t a r y , c o u l d be purchased on payment of a fee.  On the o c c a s i o n  of f u l l membership i n the g u i l d , a f e a s t was g i v e n t o  the e n t i r e company by the new journeyman.  The t r a d i t i o n a l number of g u i l d s  at the time o f the Buddha ( f o u r t h c e n t u r y B.C.) was g i v e n as e i g h t e e n (Coomaraswamy 1964:35) b u t we l e a r n from the same a u t h o r t h a t "each b r a n c h of c a s t e " a l s o had a g u i l d , among p o t t e r s f o r example: the b r i c k maker, maker and p o t maker.  tile  18. (iii)  The  Village  O u t s i d e the towns and c i t i e s and beyond the d i r e c t or c o n t r o l of the c o u r t o r g u i l d , the c r a f t s m a n was  everyday  a member of a v i l l a g e  community and i s d e s c r i b e d as an ' o r g a n i c ' p a r t of the r u r a l scene. are r e f e r e n c e s t o e n t i r e v i l l a g e s of c r a f t s m e n who  f o l l o w e d one  f o r example, f i v e hundred c a r p e n t e r s o r one thousand smiths 1909:49-50).  One  There  occupation,  (Coomaraswamy  d e s i g n a t i o n of a s u p e r i o r d i v i s i o n of c r a f t s m e n i n S r i  Lanka means "one who  possesses  a v i l l a g e " (Coomaraswamy 1909:55).  It is  assumed t h a t those l i v i n g i n these " p r o f e s s i o n a l v i l l a g e s " worked under the p r e s s u r e of "keen c o m p e t i t i o n and uneven rewards"  ( K r a m r i s c h 1959:21).  A c c o r d i n g t o another account, c r a f t s m e n i n the v i l l a g e community worked "by v i r t u e of a p e r p e t u a l c o n t r a c t whereby t h e i r s e r v i c e s are g i v e n to husbandmen, from whom they r e c e i v e i n r e t u r n c e r t a i n p r i v i l e g e s and payments in kind.  Each has h i s d u t i e s t o perform"(Coomaraswamy 1909:1).  (iv)  Summary  Accounts of the s e t t i n g s of c r a f t s m a n s h i p s t r e s s the r o l e of the c o u r t c r a f t s m e n and those of the g u i l d s working  i n urban a r e a s .  Emphasis  i s g i v e n t o those c r a f t s m e n working a t the c e n t e r s of power i n f o r m a l o r g a n i z a t i o n s under systems of patronage.  At the v i l l a g e l e v e l , mention  i s made of l a r g e p r o f e s s i o n a l v i l l a g e s , but l i t t l e  i s s a i d of the  single  f a m i l y o r s m a l l group of r e l a t e d s p e c i a l i s t s s e r v i n g the needs of a g r i c u l t u r a l i s t s and o t h e r r u r a l people w i t h i n a l i m i t e d t e r r i t o r y . " s e t t i n g " of c r a f t r e c e i v e s even l e s s n o t i c e .  T h i s i n v o l v e s men  whose work and r e l a t i o n s h i p s spanned the b o u n d a r i e s c o u r t as they moved between markets and f a i r s .  Another  and women  of v i l l a g e , town and  Camped i n p i l g r i m s '  rest  19. houses o r more o f t e n i n the open, o u t s i d e the b o u n d a r i e s  o f permanent  h a b i t a t i o n , these c r a f t s m e n p l i e d t h e i r s k i l l s f o r g i f t s o f f o o d o r a few c o i n s .  As d e p i c t e d i n some o f t h e e a r l i e s t I n d i a n s c u l p t u r e ( e g . , from  S a n c h i and A m a r a v a t i ,  t h i r d to f i r s t centuries  B.C.) and mentioned i n  p o e t i c d e s c r i p t i o n s o f f e s t i v a l s , these c r a f t s m e n i n c l u d e d a c t o r s , m u s i c i a n s , a c r o b a t s and makers o f ornaments, t o y s and r e l i g i o u s t o k e n s . I n a d d i t i o n t o t h e s e , many Hindu v i l l a g e c r a f t s m e n worked  almost  e x c l u s i v e l y f o r t r i b a l o r a b o r i g i n a l people i n t h e m a r g i n a l a r e a s of I n d i a ( K r a m r i s c h 1968 and Maduro 1976) .  Many were i t i n e r a n t , p o s s i b l y spending  the h a r v e s t o r monsoon season among t h e i r own r e l a t i v e s , b u t o t h e r w i s e on the move.  They commonly i n c l u d e d b r a s s c a s t e r s , p o t t e r s , and s m i t h s , and  t h e i r work was commissioned, b a r t e r e d f o r o r purchased  w i t h cash.  Some were  r i t u a l s p e c i a l i s t s who c r e a t e d and p r o v i d e d i c o n s , o r who p a i n t e d p i c t u r e s which were thought  t o g i v e a s s i s t a n c e t o the dead.  I t i s these  craftsmen  who have e l a b o r a t e d t h e t r i b a l v e r s i o n of Hinduism i n s c r o l l p a i n t i n g s and o t h e r media.  Through t h e i r c r e a t i o n and performance they remain a l i n k  between w i d e l y s c a t t e r e d communities. Texts make r e f e r e n c e t o a degree-of  m o b i l i t y among c r a f t s m e n , and t o  some movement between c o u r t , g u i l d and v i l l a g e " s e t t i n g s " .  F a m i l i e s of  a r c h i t e c t s and b u i l d e r s f o r example, would commonly r e l o c a t e i n r e g i o n s f a r from t h e i r a n c e s t r a l home t o undertake  s p e c i f i c p r o j e c t s ( K r a m r i s c h 1959:24).  The b u i l d i n g o f l a r g e stone temples, which from the s i x t h c e n t u r y became widespread  i n I n d i a and e s p e c i a l l y i n the s o u t h , r e q u i r e d the assembly o f  a wide v a r i e t y o f c r a f t s m e n , o f t e n f o r months o r y e a r s . v a r i o u s groups o f c r a f t s m e n  The s t a t u s o f  improved as need f o r t h e i r s e r v i c e s i n c r e a s e d  during p e r i o d s of i n t e n s e b u i l d i n g  (and r i t u a l ) a c t i v i t y , as d u r i n g the  h e i g h t o f the C o l a D y n a s t y , n i n t h - t w e l f t h c e n t u r i e s , ( S t e i n 1980:481-200).  20. On c o m p l e t i o n of the temples, o t h e r c r a f t s m e n were needed to s e r v e t e m p l e s ' needs on a r e g u l a r b a s i s .  O f t e n l a r g e f a m i l i e s or l i n e a g e s  c r a f t s m e n would u n d e r t a k e t o p r o v i d e the supply  f i x e d periods  I n s c r i p t i o n s record  a g r i c u l t u r a l r i g h t s to l a n d , h o u s i n g p l o t s and  The  the  tax exemptions g i f t e d  to  1959:20-1).  slow but c o n t i n u a l s e t t l e m e n t  i n the f a c e of expanding kingdoms and context  responsibilities  would s u c c e s s i v e l y r e l o c a t e a t the s i t e f o r  (Coomaraswamy 1909:49-50).  groups of c r a f t s m e n ( K r a m r i s c h  of  these s e r v i c e s , w h i c h i n c l u d e d b o t h  of goods and p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n r i t u a l , d i v i d i n g the  and b e n e f i t s among members who  the  of m a r g i n a l a r e a s and  increasing population  f o r the m i g r a t i o n of c r a f t s m e n .  the h i n t e r l a n d  provided  These movements are  a  particularly  w e l l documented i n South I n d i a , where l a r g e numbers of c r a f t s m e n s h i f t e d to f r o n t i e r regions for  a t the r e q u e s t of k i n g s  (Beck 1972:32), and  craftsmen,  example p o t t e r s and masons, were g i v e n l a n d t o induce them to s t a y  ( S h a s t r i 1976:328).  The  r i g h t s of b o t h p a r t i e s to these agreements were  r e c o r d e d i n d e t a i l on copper p l a t e i n s c r i p t i o n s (eg., those mentioned by S t e i n 1980:199) one  of which w i l l be c o n s i d e r e d  o f t e n enjoyed h i g h e r  below (page 49).  Craftsmen  s t a t u s and more p r i v i l e g e s i n o u t l y i n g r e g i o n s  than i n  the c e n t r a l a r e a s of the l a r g e kingdoms ( S t e i n 1980:139). M i g r a t i o n was, opportunity.  however, not always p r e c i p i t a t e d by  Craftsmen sometimes w i t h h e l d  increased  services during disputes  and  were f o r c e d to f l e e t h e i r homes when f a c e d w i t h s i t u a t i o n s of c o n f l i c t , for  example, when t a x e s were c o l l e c t e d by f o r c e ( S t e i n 1980:487).  famine or s t r i f e ,  During  t h e i r l a c k of d i r e c t l i n k s to l a n d sometimes l e f t them  expendable and v u l n e r a b l e , i n the words of B u r t o n S t e i n , to s t a t u s d e p r i v a t i o n and  economic e x p l o i t a t i o n " (1980:10).  as  "crushing  21. T e x t u a l s o u r c e s on c r a f t s m a n s h i p p r e s e n t a r e l a t i v e l y h i s t o r y dominated  by p a t r o n a g e , p r o t e c t i o n and i n t e g r a t i o n .  conflict-free I t i s evident  from m y t h o l o g i c a l and h i s t o r i c a l e v i d e n c e however, t h a t , a t l e a s t i n South I n d i a , d i v i s i o n s and c o n f l i c t s have a l o n g h i s t o r y i n c r a f t  communities.  These are i m p o r t a n t f o r u n d e r s t a n d i n g the s e t t i n g s of c r a f t s m a n s h i p and o r i e n t a t i o n of c r a f t s m e n toward t h e i r work.  the  Craftsmen are o f t e n c h a r a c t e r i z e d  as d e c e i t f u l and t r e a c h e r o u s i n p o p u l a r s t o r i e s and e p i c s (Beck 1972:34) and themes i n a n c i e n t T a m i l l i t e r a t u r e , such as the e v i l g o l d s m i t h i n the T a m i l e p i c , C i l a p p a t t i k a r a m , are w e l l known.  There are a l s o numerous  r e f e r e n c e s to r i v a l r i e s between c r a f t s m e n and Brahmans over c l a i m s to s u p e r i o r s t a t u s , and e s p e c i a l l y over r i g h t s and p r i v i l e g e s (Weber 1958:62, Dumont 1970:288).  There i s , on the o t h e r hand, e v i d e n c e of a l l i a n c e s  between c r a f t s m e n and merchants ( A n a n t h a k r i s h n a 1935:453-68) and a g e n e r a l tendency  to speak of those groups as a s i n g l e u n i t .  Perhaps  the  r i v a l r i e s e x i s t e d between c e r t a i n c r a f t groups and landowners. the s u b c o n t i n e n t , the " a r t i s a n communities  have attempted  deepest Throughout  to c o u n t e r a c t the  power of the landed c a s t e s w i t h the a s s e r t i o n of s u p e r i o r s t a t u s . . . " (Beck 1970:789).  In some r e c o r d e d cases t h i s took the form of r i v a l r i e s  w i t h f a r m e r s , as i n a famous d i s p u t e mediated by the C o l a k i n g (Hocart 1950:66, T h u r s t o n 1909:VII  362-64) and i n o t h e r s w i t h the k i n g h i m s e l f ( o f t e n  a symbol of the l a n d owners) ( A n a n t h a k r i s h n a 1935:468). Craftsmen are o f t e n c h a r a c t e r i z e d as r i v a l s to o t h e r groups i n I n d i a n s o c i e t y , and they have e s t a b l i s h e d v a r i o u s k i n d s of a l l i a n c e s , depending  on the type of c r a f t s e t t i n g i n which they worked, i n o r d e r to  compete and s u r v i v e .  As w i t h o t h e r groups who  e x e r c i s e d no d i r e c t  control  over l a n d , c r a f t s m e n were o f t e n viewed as m o b i l e and thus dangerous to more s e t t l e d p e o p l e .  I n many of the s i t u a t i o n s of r i v a l r y and  conflict  22. r e f e r r e d to above, the c r a f t s m e n r e s o r t e d to m a g i c a l power i n o r d e r t o f a c e the m i l i t a r y power of landed p e o p l e . (c)  Rank (i)  In  Position  r e v i e w i n g i d e a l s o f I n d i a n c r a f t s m a n s h i p one e n c o u n t e r s a deep  concern w i t h rank o r s t a t u s w i t h i n I n d i a n s o c i e t y d i s c u s s e d i n terms of caste.  The c l a s s i c a l S a n s k r i t l i t e r a t u r e tends to view c a s t e i n terms of  the t r a d i t i o n a l h i e r a r c h y of f o u r main o r d e r s or s t r a t a c a l l e d v a r n a .  The  r e s p e c t i v e d u t i e s of these v a r n a are l a i d out i n the Laws of Manu (second to  f i r s t c e n t u r i e s B.C.).  The f i r s t and h i g h e s t r a n k i n g o r d e r are Brahmans,  p r i e s t s and t e a c h e r s ; the second are K s a t r i y a s , r u l e r s and w a r r i o r s ; are V a i s y a s , merchants;  third  and the f o u r t h are Sudras, l a b o u r e r s and s e r v a n t s .  A ' f i f t h group' c o n s i s t e d of those e x c l u d e d from the system are today a s s o c i a t e d w i t h u n t o u c h a b l e s .  (avarna)  "Each c l a s s had i t s own  and  s e t of  d u t i e s and o b l i g a t i o n s (sva-dharma) d e f i n i t e l y p r e s c r i b e d " and, f o r the sake of the s o l i d a r i t y and p r o g r e s s of the s o c i e t y as a whole, each was  expected to do i t s own duty (DeBary  class  1958:219).  " A c c o r d i n g t o the P a r a s a r a , a l l the f o u r o r d e r s ; Brahmans, K s a t r i y a s , V a i s y a s and Sudras, may  p r a c t i c e c r a f t s " ( K r a m r i s c h 1959:19).  Texts such as the S i v a p u r a n a , f o r example, s p e c i f y the p a r t i c u l a r types of m a t e r i a l s to be used by each group i n the c r e a t i o n of images 1970:135).  Many examples of Brahmans who  i n the J a t a k a s .  (Shastri  " l i v e d by h a n d i c r a f t s " are found  Some of these r e f e r to Brahman c a r p e n t e r s and  a r c h i t e c t - p r i e s t s who  the  from the s i x t h c e n t u r y onward p a r t i c i p a t e d i n the  c o n s t r u c t i o n of the g r e a t stone temples  ( K r a m r i s c h 1959:19, 1956:337).  23. Sivaramamurti  c o n c l u d e s from h i s study o f t e x t s t h a t i n the e a r l y p e r i o d of  I n d i a ' s h i s t o r y the s t a t u s of the p r o f e s s i o n a l a r t i s t ,was "of a v e r y h i g h and n o b l e t y p e " (1934:33-34).  A c c o r d i n g t o "Vedic and l a t e r V e d i c s o u r c e s " ,  c e r t a i n c r a f t s m e n enjoyed an " a n c i e n t and honourable  s t a t u s " ( S t e i n 1980:196).  I t was a sage and t e a c h e r i n s t r u c t i n g a k i n g i n the knowledge o f the a r t s which forms the n a r r a t i v e s t r u c t u r e of the s i x t h c e n t u r y  Visnudharmottara, 3  an i m p o r t a n t e n c y c l o p e d i a o f the a r t s ( K r a m r i s c h 1956:337). In  c o n t r a s t t o the i d e n t i f i c a t i o n o f c r a f t s m e n w i t h the Brahman  v a r n a , t h e A r t h a s a s t r a and V i s n u s m r t i ( t h i r d c e n t u r y A.D.) f i r m l y l i n k a l l branches  o f c r a f t w i t h the Sudras ( K r a m r i s c h 1959:19, 1968:99; Weber  1958:93; S i n g e r 1960:264).  A c c o r d i n g t o Maduro, i t was i n t h e c l a s s i c a l  Gupta age ( f o u r t h t o s i x t h c e n t u r i e s A.D.) t h a t the i d e a of the a r t i s t as Brahman became e c l i p s e d and a r t i s t s and c r a f t s m e n became s t e r e o t y p e d as Sudras (1976:81).  S t e i n quotes  sources t h a t show t h a t c r a f t s m e n of South  I n d i a had come t o be regarded as Sudras by t h e " e a r l y c e n t u r i e s of the Christian era" (ii)  (1980:196).  The F a l l  A c c o r d i n g t o the t e x t s , t h e c o n t r a s t between t h e o r i g i n a l  'high'  s t a t u s o f c r a f t s m e n and t h e i r p r e s e n t g e n e r a l l y 'low' s t a t u s can be accounted of  f o r by a moral t r a n s g r e s s i o n by c r a f t s m e n , e i t h e r i n the performance  t h e i r c r a f t o r i n t h e conduct  of t h e i r s o c i a l  life.  There i s l i t t l e s p e c i f i c r e f e r e n c e i n the t e x t s to c r a f t s m e n among the o r d e r of K s a t r i y a o r V a i s y a w i t h t h e e x c e p t i o n o f s e v e r a l k i n g s who boast of t h e i r c r e a t i v e a b i l i t i e s . Best known i s the P a l l a v a monarch Mahendravarman, who speaks o f h i m s e l f i n an i n s c r i p t i o n as ' t i g e r among painters'.  24. Craftsmen, as sons o f Brahma, s h o u l d be Brahmans, and the t e x t u a l e x p l a n a t i o n f o r t h e i r i n c o n g r u o u s l y low s o c i a l p o s i t i o n i s o f t e n through a 'mixed' o r i n t e r - v a r n a m a r r i a g e .  A c c o r d i n g t o t h e Laws o f Manu, t h e  o f f s p r i n g o f i n t e r - v a r n a unions have i n f e r i o r s t a t u s t o e i t h e r p a r e n t (Dumont 1970:126-29).  An account o f t h e ' f a l l ' ,  Purana, i s r e p e a t e d by K r a m r i s c h : "Visvakarma,  from the Brahmavaivartha  c u r s e d by an Apsaras  descended t o e a r t h , was born by a Brahman woman, and became an u n p a r a l l e l e d architect.  He had n i n e i l l e g i t i m a t e sons, by a Sudra woman"  These were t h e a r c h e t y p a l c r a f t s m e n .  (1959:20).  I n o t h e r a c c o u n t s , c r a f t s m e n a r e born  of a V a i s y a f a t h e r and a Sudra mother, o r even a Sudra f a t h e r and Brahman mother by which they become untouchable cases the p u r i t y o f t h e l i n e was marred.  ( K r a m r i s c h 1959:19).  I n both  T h i s a s p e c t o f h e r i t a g e was  b e l i e v e d t o be the r e s u l t o f a c u r s e a g a i n s t c r a f t s m e n o r t h e r e s u l t o f an i l l - a d v i s e d a c t o f compassion on t h e i r p a r t . There i s a s t r o n g emphasis throughout  the c o n v e n t i o n a l h i s t o r y o f  c r a f t s m e n on the c r u c i a l importance o f c o r r e c t conduct  i n c a r r y i n g out the  work, and the s w i f t and i r r e v o c a b l e punishment f o r f a i l u r e .  " V i o l a t i o n of  the S h a s t r a i c r u l e s was a l s o a v i o l a t i o n o f r e l i g i o n " ( S i n g e r 1960:267), and p u n i s h a b l e by a l o s s o f p u r i t y and s t a t u s w i t h i n t h e c a s t e h i e r a r c h y . The f a t e of b o t h "good" and " e v i l " c r a f t s m e n i s documented i n d e t a i l i n the Mayamataya (Coomaraswamy 1909:69-70, Mukerjee The Samarangansutradhara  1916:49-50).  c o n t a i n s d i r e warning f o r t h e c r a f t s m e n who would  " r u i n t h e kingdom by p r o c e d i n g w i t h o u t c o r r e c t knowledge o r w i t h f a l s e p r i d e " ( K r a m r i s c h 1956:336).  I n some accounts c r a f t s m e n became  and mired i n "bad h a b i t s " ( S i v a r a m a m u r t i 1934:36-9). c o n t r a v e n e d some s p e c i f i c r u l e o f c r a f t w o r k .  "degenerate"  I n o t h e r s , they  25. (iii)  Summary  The t e x t s p r e s e n t a complex p i c t u r e of the rank of I n d i a n c r a f t s m e n . They are d e s c r i b e d as b e i n g of h i g h r a n k , f o l l o w i n g the "pure" h a b i t s  and  customs of Brahmans i n , f o r , e x a m p l e , d r e s s and e d u c a t i o n , and y e t are a l s o d e s i g n a t e d as Sudra, of low r a n k , s u b j e c t to r e s t r i c t i o n s through which " i m p u r i t y " may  be t e m p o r a r i l y suspended  i n a r i t u a l context.  e x p l a i n e d , i n a h i s t o r i c a l sense, by a " f a l l " ,  their  This i s  the v i o l a t i o n of r u l e s of  s o c i a l p r o p r i e t y o r of c r a f t p r o c e d u r e s (which a r e a h o l y r i t u a l ) and a subsequent d e g r a d a t i o n of c r a f t s m e n to a low s o c i a l rank. acknowledged  Craftsmen are  as "pure" when they a r e a t work and "impure" o t h e r w i s e .  As a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s , we seem to have d e v e l o p e d , a l o n g w i t h  classical  s c h o l a r s , a p e r s p e c t i v e i n which " c a s t e s , e s p e c i a l l y those a s s o c i a t e d w i t h t r a d i t i o n a l o c c u p a t i o n s , appear as h a v i n g a homogeneity,  a d e f i n i t i o n which  a c c o r d s more w i t h the v a r n a t h e o r y than w i t h the s o c i a l r e a l i t y of e x i s t i n g r e l a t i o n s h i p s " (Pocock 1981:335).  Others support t h i s view.  I t has been  argued t h a t i n South I n d i a , c a s t e s l a b e l l e d Sudra (which i n c l u d e c r a f t s m e n ) , " e x e r t e d a p r o f o u n d i n f l u e n c e on m e d i e v a l s o c i e t y , e n j o y i n g a rank and s o c i a l power f a r g r e a t e r than t h a t accorded them by the l e g a l and  social  t e x t s o f the p e r i o d " ( S t e i n 1980:81), and t h a t among a r t i s a n s , whose work was  " t a i n t e d by a not always l o g i c a l s e t of p o l l u t i o n norms... the  t e r m i n o l o g y d i c t a t e d by B r a h m a n i c a l norms such as "Sudra", s e r v e s no a n a l y t i c a l purpose" ( I b i d . , 1980:212). I t appears t h a t a t l e a s t s i n c e m e d i e v a l t i m e s , the s o c i a l  position  of c r a f t s m e n i n l o c a l h i e r a r c h i e s has f l u c t u a t e d .according to such f a c t o r s as t h e i r r o l e i n the e x p a n s i o n of temple complexes and the s e t t l e m e n t of m a r g i n a l areas ( S t e i n 1980:197-99).  Yet they have g e n e r a l l y been c o n s i g n e d  26. to a r e l a t i v e l y "low" p o s i t i o n i n I n d i a n s o c i e t y .  Some c r a f t s m e n  today  t e n a c i o u s l y m a i n t a i n c l a i m s t o a Brahman s t a t u s and o r g a n i z e t h e i r accordingly.  lifestyles  I n some c a s e s , such as t h a t o f t h e Kammalar o f South I n d i a ,  t h e r e has been c o n t i n u o u s (Ananthakrishna  r e s i s t a n c e t o these c l a i m s by o t h e r  castes  1935:468, Mandlebaum 1920:11,459, H e i b e r t 1971:20).  In  o t h e r s such as t h a t o f t h e C h i t r a k a r o f Nathdwara, R a j a s t a n , t h e c l a i m seems t o have gained acceptance (Maduro 1976).^ There have been among c r a f t s m e n , v a r i o u s groups which a r e accorded w i d e l y d i v e r s e s t a t u s , based on such f a c t o r s as t h e i r customs, t h e q u a l i t i e s of the m a t e r i a l s they use, t h e e x t e n t t o which t h e i r work i n v o l v e s c o n t a c t w i t h substances  c o n s i d e r e d pure o r impure and t h e a l l i a n c e s w h i c h they have  e s t a b l i s h e d w i t h o t h e r c a s t e s where they l i v e and work. different  groups o f c r a f t s m e n have d i s p u t e d t h e i r r e l a t i v e rank among  themselves.  The urban a r t i s a n , o f t e n a l l i e d w i t h t r a d e r s , v i e d f o r  precedence w i t h r u r a l c r a f t s m e n , a l l i e d w i t h farmers different  I n some c a s e s ,  and were d u r i n g  p e r i o d s c o n s i d e r e d above o r below them (Gough 1969:53).  Groups  of c r a f t s m e n have used v a r i o u s s t r a t e g i e s o f e m u l a t i n g h i g h e r c a s t e s i n an e f f o r t t o upgrade t h e i r r e l a t i v e r a n k , o f t e n drawing on elements o f c o n f l i c t i n g models o f b e h a v i o u r  (Mines 1982).  Many groups o f c r a f t s m e n m a i n t a i n a t r a d i t i o n a l h i s t o r y which i n c l u d e s a v e r s i o n o f t h e " a n c i e n t h o n o u r a b l e s t a t u s " brought i n t o by a " f a l l " .  disrepute  T h i s may r e f l e c t n e i t h e r a s i m p l e i n c o n s i s t e n c y i n t h e sources  Such c l a i m s have been a common p a r t of i n t e r - c a s t e r e l a t i o n s , and w e r e p a r t i c u l a r l y evident during B r i t i s h C o l o n i a l rule. The B r i t i s h custom of drawing up ranked l i s t s of c a s t e s , which began w i t h the Census of 1867, l e d t o a number o f attempts by c a s t e groups t o " r e c l a i m " o r "upgrade" t h e i r r e l a t i v e rank.  27.  c o n s u l t e d nor an e l a b o r a t e j u s t i f i c a t i o n or r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n f o r a low but r a t h e r a deeply r o o t e d ambiguity creativity life.  and  Rather  the r e l a t i o n s h i p of people than attempt  i t may  be t h a t  people, o f t e n people more permanently s e t t l e d , more powerful  The  cultural  i t i n t h e i r r i v a l r y w i t h o t h e r groups  and more f i r m l y e s t a b l i s h e d i n t r a d i t i o n a l  (d)  craftsmanship,  to the s a c r e d i n I n d i a n  to " r e s o l v e " t h i s ambiguity,  craftsmen have c o n t i n u a l l y e x p l o i t e d of  i n the v e r y n a t u r e of  rank,  economically  systems of rank and s t a t u s .  Ideals  (i)  The  The  Source:  Brahma/Visvakarma  p r i n c i p l e s or laws of c r a f t s m a n s h i p r e s t on a number of  assumptions about the r e l i g i o u s o r i g i n and meaning of the c r a f t Hindu craftsmen  throughout  process.  I n d i a have worshipped the d e i t y Brahma as  their  d i v i n e p a t r o n , o f t e n i n h i s p a r t i c u l a r m a n i f e s t a t i o n as L o r d Visvakarma. As Brahma c r e a t e d the w o r l d , manifold s k i l l s necessary  so i n the form of Visvakarma he p r a c t i c e d  to shape and m a t e r i a l i z e i t . Visvakarma  i n Hindu l i t e r a t u r e as an independent  appears  d e i t y as e a r l y as the l a s t book of  the Rig Veda ( p o s s i b l y composed i n the f i r s t m i l l e n i u m B.C.). Brahmanas (prose i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s of the Vedas) he creator Prajapati  the  In the  i s i d e n t i f i e d with  the  (Maduro 1976:73).  Many craftsmen have a l s o claimed Visvakarma as t h e i r He has been regarded  ancestor.  as the o r i g i n a l c r a f t s m a n , d i v i n e a r c h i t e c t  c a r p e n t e r of the gods.  A l l t o o l s and  s k i l l s have been passed  workshop where Visvakarma f a s h i o n e d the w o r l d . s e r v i n g the v a r i e t y of c r a f t communities who  H i s nature  claim origin  heads r e f e r to the f o u r q u a r t e r s of h i s s a c r i f i c e and h i s  or  down from  the  i s multi-faceted, i n him.  His four  all-encompassing  28. c r e a t i v i t y i s c r y s t a l l i z e d i n h i s a s s e r t i o n , " I s h a l l be many" ( S u k l a 184).  1957:  I n some myths, he has f i v e f a c e s and from each he produced a son.  Each of those sons began a major " l i n e a g e " which f o l l o w e d a p a r t i c u l a r c r a f t : Manu, the b l a c k s m i t h ; Maya, the c a r p e n t e r ; S i l p a k a , the a r c h i t e c t and stone worker; T v a s t a r , the metal worker; and V i s v a j n a , the g o l d s m i t h . ^ sons of any of these l i n e a g e s may  p r a c t i c e the c r a f t of a n o t h e r .  groups have p r o c l a i m e d t h i s h e r e d i t y by assuming the t i t l e s Brahmans" o r "Visva-Brahmans"  (Brouwer 1977).  The  Artisan  "Visvakarma  I n a n o t h e r v e r s i o n of  h e r e d i t y , descent has been t r a c e d t o n i n e sons of Visvakarma: the g a r l a n d maker, b l a c k s m i t h , p o t t e r , m e t a l w o r k e r , c o n c h - s h e l l c a r v e r ,  weaver,  a r c h i t e c t , p a i n t e r and g o l d s m i t h ( K r a m r i s c h 1959:20). In more g e n e r a l terms, c r a f t s m e n have r e g a r d e d Visvakarma as the d i v i n e source of i n s p i r a t i o n f o r t h e i r work. are  skills  not the a c c u m u l a t i o n of c e n t u r i e s but f l o w d i r e c t l y from d i v i n e t o  mortal creator. the  I n t h i s sense, c r a f t  unformed  The c r a f t s m a n m e d i t a t e d w i t h h i s t o o l s i n h i s hand b e f o r e  raw m a t e r i a l .  S t o r i e s are t o l d of c r a f t s m e n who, when f a c e d  w i t h a seemingly i n s u r m o u n t a b l e problem, r e c e i v e d the s o l u t i o n d i r e c t l y from god (Coomaraswamy 1909:73). (Maduro 1976:74) and "sum  As the " p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n of c r e a t i v e power"  t o t a l of c r e a t i v e energy" ( K r a m r i s c h 1959:18),  Visvakarma has most o f t e n been d e p i c t e d i n r e d , the c o l o u r of p a s s i o n , a c t i o n and c r e a t i v e power.  Visvakarma i s p r e s e n t a t e v e r y a c t of c r e a t i o n ,  and t i e s each new p i e c e of work to the o r i g i n a l c r e a t i o n of the w o r l d . Carved or p a i n t e d images of V i s v a k a r m a , as of Brahma, show a s c h o l a r l y f i g u r e h o l d i n g , a l o n g w i t h h i s t o o l s , a m a n u s c r i p t or t e x t . T h i s r e p r e s e n t s the S a s t r a s , i n p a r t i c u l a r the S i l p a S a s t r a s which are  From K r a m r i s c h (1959:19), q u o t i n g the Manasara. For a d i f f e r e n t v e r s i o n of t h i s f i v e - f o l d d i v i s i o n , and t h e r e a r e many, see T h u r s t o n 1909, V o l . I l l : 106.  29. treatises describing  the p r o p e r conduct of c r a f t s m e n and  of c o r r e c t m a t e r i a l , measurement and A c c o r d i n g to Coomaraswamy, "the (Sastras)  prescribing  rules  p r o c e d u r e (see Maduro 1976:76).  s p i r i t of these uncompromising  l i e s a t the r o o t of the Hindu  doctrines  v i e w of a r t " (1964:16).  range of a c t i v i t i e s are i n c l u d e d under the t i t l e  A wide  S i l p i n or c r a f t s m a n .  The name f o r any a r t or c r a f t s i s s i l p a . The meanings f o r t h i s word are ' m u l t i c o l o r e d ' and comprise a r t , s k i l l , c r a f t , l a b o u r , i n g e n u i t y , r i t e and r i t u a l , form, and c r e a t i o n . N e i t h e r the word ' a r t i s t ' nor ' a r t i s a n ' nor ' c r a f t s m a n ' are adequate t r a n s l a t i o n s of s i l p i n ; f o r the a r t s and c r a f t s i n I n d i a p a r t a k e i n the n a t u r e of r i t e s whose t e c h n i c a l performance had magic power. S i l p a n i , works of a r t of man, says the A i t a r e y a Brahmana (V15.27) are "an i m i t a t i o n of d i v i n e forms; by employing t h e i r rhythms a m e t r i c a l r e c o n s t i t u t i o n i s e f f e c t e d of the l i m i t e d human p e r s o n a l i t y " . The range of the c r a f t s extends over the e n t i r e c u l t u r e and comprises the work of the w h e e l - w r i g h t and the s c u l p t o r , of p o t t e r and perfumer, weaver and architect ( K r a m r i s c h 1959:18). All skill  c r e a t i v e a c t i v i t y i s m a n i f e s t e d i n the s i x t y - f o u r d i v i s i o n s of  or k a l a .  Together w i t h the t h i r t y - t w o s c i e n c e s and  " i s not r i g i d , and  c e r t a i n b o r d e r d i s c i p l i n e s are v a r i o u s l y a s s i g n e d  or the o t h e r "  shilpan  d i s t i n c t i o n between k a l a and  ( K r a m r i s c h 1956:335).  ( s i l p i n ) or p r a c t i o n e r  S i l p a Sastras  The  they comprise  the t o t a l of s k i l l  one  knowledge.  (vidya)  as, one  of one  The  character  or more k a l a s  of the  s h o u l d u n d e r s t a n d the A t h a r v a Veda, the t h i r t y - t w o S h i l p a S h a s t r a s and the V e d i c mantras by which the d e i t i e s are i n v o k e d . The S h i l p a n s h o u l d be one who wears a s a c r e d t h r e a d , a n e c k l a c e of s a c r e d beads, and a r i n g of Kusha g r a s s upon h i s f i n g e r : one d e l i g h t i n g i n the w o r s h i p of god, f a i t h f u l to h i s w i f e , a v o i d i n g s t r a n g e women, t r u e to h i s family, of a pure h e a r t and v i r t u o u s , c h a n t i n g the vedas, c o n s t a n t i n the performance of c e r e m o n i a l d u t i e s , p i o u s l y  to  ideal  i s described  who:  vidya  i n the  30. a c q u i r i n g a knowledge of v a r i o u s s c i e n c e s - such a one i s a c r a f t s m a n (Coomaraswamy 1967:43). (ii)  A Sacred  Ritual  The word s i l p a has meant not o n l y a r t and c r a f t , but a l s o r i t e ritual.  The  " p r i e s t l y c h a r a c t e r of a l l c r a f t s m e n "  and  (Hocart 1950:16) i s  c o n s i d e r e d a fundamental element i n the I n d i a n c r a f t t r a d i t i o n .  Craftsmen  have been r e c o g n i z e d f o r t h e i r s p e c i a l competence, both by v i r t u e of  their  t e c h n i c a l s k i l l s i n m a n i p u l a t i n g m a t t e r , but a l s o t h e i r competence i n ritual.  T h i s competence i s m a n i f e s t  i n observances c a r r i e d out d u r i n g  e x e c u t i o n of t h e i r work, f o r example i n the worship t o o l s , o f m a t e r i a l s and of the work p l a c e . s a n c t i o n s of a sacrament" ( K r a m r i s c h Concerning  the  and r i t u a l care of  A l l c r e a t i v e work "has  the  1959:20).  the maintenance of a c r a f t , the young n o v i c e  was  c o n s i d e r e d a ' d i s c i p l e ' r a t h e r than an a p p r e n t i c e and o f t e n became a devotee of h i s t e a c h e r  (Coomaraswamy 1909:85).  d o c t r i n e and a d i s c i p l i n e based on m a s t e r i n g technical.  The  c r a f t i n v o l v e d both  s k i l l s both r i t u a l  There were c e r t a i n a u s t e r i t i e s to be observed  p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the c r e a t i v e p r o c e s s .  There was  and  as p r e p a r a t i o n f o r  These t y p i c a l l y i n v o l v e d a b s t i n e n c e  from s e x u a l c o n t a c t , from c e r t a i n types of food and from normal interaction.  social  a s p e c i a l p u j a or w o r s h i p f u l o f f e r i n g t o b e g i n  new  p r o j e c t or p i e c e of work and another  had  to be c a r r i e d out i n a s e c l u d e d p l a c e , o f t e n i n s e c r e t .  at i t s c o n c l u s i o n .  The  o u t s i d e r ( K r a m r i s c h 1959:20, Coomaraswamy 1909:72).  any  craftwork  A student,  i n some cases c a s t e f e l l o w s , were a l l o w e d to be p r e s e n t , but not  maintenance of r i t u a l p u r i t y .  a  This assured  and  an the  The workshop or w o r k p l a c e was, always f e l t  to be i n a s t a t e of p u r i t y w h i l e the work was  i n p r o g r e s s and  precautions  31.  had t o be t a k e n , as i n a temple, so t h a t no v i o l a t i o n took p l a c e . to t h e c o m p l e t i o n of a work was  Essential  the i n a u g u r a l ceremony which "opens the  e y e s " , a f i n a l s t r o k e of c h i s e l o r b r u s h on wood, m e t a l , stone or c l a y , " t o b r i n g the image t o l i f e " 75-80, S i n g e r 1972:122).  ( A n a n t h a k r i s h n a 1935:435, Coomaraswamy 1909:  T h i s a p p l i e d t o f l a t p a i n t i n g as w e l l as s c u l p t u r e .  The i n a u g u r a t i o n of c r e a t i o n s o t h e r t h a n images, from temples to d r a m a t i c performances, were i n e v e r y way  as e s s e n t i a l .  F i n a l l y , t h e r e was  the  p e r i o d i c w o r s h i p of the t o o l s , o r more a c c u r a t e l y w o r s h i p of the god Visvakarma embodied i n the t o o l s .  The s t r i c t e s t r u l e s p r e s c r i b e d t h a t  this  r i t e take p l a c e on a d a i l y b a s i s i n p r e p a r a t i o n f o r the work of the day. The w o r s h i p extended t o the raw m a t e r i a l s of the c r a f t p r o c e s s as w e l l . Most f u n d a m e n t a l l y , c r a f t s m e n i d e n t i f i e d w i t h the d i v i n e source of t h e i r c r e a t i v e power.  I t was  the god who  T h e i r p r i m a r y form of w o r s h i p was God's c r e a t i o n . was  Moreover,  c r e a t e d through the c r a f t s m e n .  e x p r e s s e d i n becoming the v e h i c l e of  the c l a i m i s made t h a t t h i s s a c e r d o t a l s t a t u s  r e c o g n i z e d i n the w i d e r s o c i e t y .  The Laws of Manu m a i n t a i n t h a t the  hand of the c r a f t s m a n engaged i n h i s work i s always r i t u a l l y ( K r a m r i s c h 1959:19).  pure  Even i f o t h e r w i s e c o n s i d e r e d ' u n c l e a n ' , " a s s o c i a t i o n  w i t h c e r e m o n i a l o b j e c t s g i v e ( c r a f t s m e n ) p r e s t i g e and s t a t u s i n the r i t u a l c o n t e x t " ( S i n g e r 1960:265).  S p i r i t u a l m e r i t was g e n e r a t e d by the p r o c e s s  of c r e a t i o n and v i r t u e of m e r i t of any work of a r t was patron.  t r a n s f e r r e d to the  As he took p o s s e s s i o n , e i t h e r s y m b o l i c a l l y or i n f a c t , the  v a l u e g e n e r a t e d by the c r e a t i v e p r o c e s s and embodied i n the product changed hands.  I n t h i s way  ( S i n g e r 1960:269).  spiritual thus  the c r a f t s m a n " c o n f e r r e d m e r i t on h i s c l i e n t "  The d i r e s a n c t i o n s a g a i n s t i n j u r i n g a c r a f t s m a n  p r o c l a i m e d i n the A r t h a s a s t r a , c a p i t a l punishment f o r one who  caused the l o s s  32. of  a hand or eye  importance  ( K r a m r i s c h 1956:341), were d i r e c t e d toward  of c r a f t s m e n as w e l l as t h e i r p u r e l y t e c h n i c a l  the r e l i g i o u s abilities.  I m p a i r i n g a c r a f t s m a n endangered not o n l y a p i e c e of work a t hand but ultimately  the  (iii)  The  o r d e r of the v i l l a g e , s t a t e and u n i v e r s e .  Summary  i d e a l s of c r a f t s m a n s h i p emphasize the ways i n which a l l c r a f t s m e n  have c l a i m e d descent from Brahma as Visvakarma,  the a r c h e t y p a l c r e a t o r .  The c h a r a c t e r of t h i s d e i t y i s , however, o d d l y ambiguous.  He i s p o r t r a y e d ,  on the one hand, as a s c h o l a r l y Brahman p r i e s t and on the o t h e r , as the p a s s i o n a t e "sum  t o t a l of c r e a t i v e energy".  I t i s through t h i s c o n j u n c t i o n  between p i o u s detachment and v i g o r o u s and d e f i l i n g involvement  t h a t Brahma  draws on opposing models of i d e a l b e h a v i o u r .  separate  temples  to Brahma or Visvakarma  In modern I n d i a ,  are r a r e l y seen.  Most Hindus w o r s h i p S i v a  or V i s n u i n v a r i o u s forms,, and Brahma, as the t h i r d member of the Hindu " T r i n i t y " i s a minor f i g u r e .  I n Hindu mythology, Brahma's c r e a t i v i t y i s a  m i x t u r e of a s c e t i c i s m and a c t i v i t y his  ( O ' F l a h e r t y 1973:111-138, 1967:51-53) w i t h  l u s t p e r i o d i c a l l y r e s u l t i n g i n the l o s s of c r e a t i v e power ( I b i d . ,  1973:40-42).  One  p o p u l a r myth t e l l s how  t h i s l u s t l e d to an i n c e s t u o u s  r e l a t i o n s h i p between Brahma and h i s d a u g h t e r , a l s o possessed  the goddess, S a r a s v a t i ,  who  c r e a t i v e power of i m a g i n a t i o n and i n v e n t i o n (Maduro 1976:73).  P a r a d o x i c a l l y , S a r a s v a t i i s a l s o seen as Brahma's c o n s o r t , h i s s a k t i , o r female c o u n t e r p a r t . of  I f Brahma i s p r e s e n t i n every c r e a t i o n , then the work  the c r a f t s m a n and the Hindu p e r c e p t i o n of the p r o c e s s of c r e a t i v i t y  are t i n g e d by the nebulous  n a t u r e of h i s c r e a t i v e power.  The broad d e f i n i t i o n which the t e x t s o f f e r f o r S i l p a makes i t  33. d i f f i c u l t t o a s s e s s the s t a t u s o r r o l e o f c r a f t s m e n .  What we a r e accustomed  to c a l l i n g the a r t s and c r a f t s , such as music, p a i n t i n g o r s c u l p t u r e a r e prominent, b u t some l i s t s a l s o i n c l u d e such d i v e r s e s k i l l s as making l o v e ( K r a m r i s c h 1956:335), making lemonade ( M o n i e r - W i l l i a m s 1891:461) and t r a i n i n g b i r d s (Ganguly 1962).  The same v a l u e s and r u l e s of conduct a r e  s a i d t o a p p l y t o both an a r c h i t e c t and a w h e e l w r i g h t .  I n t h i s sense, a  q u e s t i o n a r i s e s about the e x t e n t t o which the c r a f t s m e n ' s work has a c t u a l l y been governed by t e x t s o r s a s t r a s .  Many c r a f t s m e n have no doubt l a i d  to the r e s p e c t e d s o c i a l s t a t u s o f a " S a s t r a i c " t r a d i t i o n .  claim  Some f a m i l i e s o f  image makers and a r c h i t e c t s , i n p a r t i c u l a r , possess a c t u a l documents, some i n the a n c i e n t form of palm l e a f m a n u s c r i p t s , c o n t a i n i n g b l u e p r i n t - l i k e d e t a i l s o f p r o p e r d i m e n s i o n s , a n g l e s , e t c . , as w e l l as d e t a i l s o f r i t u a l p r a c t i c e and s o c i a l conduct.  These a r e c a r e f u l l y p r e s e r v e d , passed down  through the f a m i l y and p e r i o d i c a l l y c o n s u l t e d or worshipped.  They may be  shown t o a n o v i c e , b u t have more c e r e m o n i a l than r e f e r e n c e v a l u e ( S i n g e r 1972:118).  I n p r a c t i c e , however, r e l a t i v e l y few c r a f t s m e n have a c c e s s t o  a c t u a l t e x t s i n which these i d e a s a r e c o d i f i e d and i t i s u n l i k e l y most ever d i d .  that  We know l i t t l e y e t o f the ways i n which s k i l l s and i d e a s  upon which c r a f t s a r e based a r e passed from g e n e r a t i o n t o g e n e r a t i o n among I n d i a n c r a f t s m e n who make no r e f e r e n c e t o the S a s t r a s , nor the e x t e n t t o which i n h e r i t e d c a p a b i l i t i e s and a f f i l i a t i o n s  of s o c i a l group and t e r r i t o r y  oppose o r b a l a n c e p r e s c r i p t i v e knowledge i n the form of t e x t s . t h e t e x t s c o n c e i v e o f the c r a f t s m a n ' s work as a r i t u a l p r o c e s s and document the s t a g e s by which the work i s c o n s e c r a t e d .  The work becomes  l i k e an o f f e r i n g t o god which g e n e r a t e s r e l i g i o u s m e r i t , m e r i t which i s absorbed by the p a t r o n , whether k i n g , c h i e f , or peasant landowner.  This  p a t r o n i s u l t i m a t e l y expected t o r e c y c l e the m e r i t among members o f h i s  34. community. h i s patron  The c r a f t s m a n i s i n t h i s way l i k e a p r i e s t , s t a n d i n g  between  and the d i v i n e .  E l a b o r a t e measures a r e d e s c r i b e d , b o t h t o p r e p a r e t h e c r a f t s m a n f o r t h i s r o l e , t o i s o l a t e h i m d u r i n g h i s work, and p r e p a r e f o r t h e b e n e f i t o f the c r e a t i o n t o be t r a n s f e r r e d t o t h e p a t r o n . the p u r i t y o f the c r e a t i o n .  A l l these measures ensure  Yet the n e c e s s i t y to proclaim  the p u r i t y of  the hand o f any c r a f t s m a n engaged i n h i s work i n d i c a t e s the e x p e c t a t i o n of impurity.  The c r a f t s m a n ' s r o l e , h i s c r a f t and t h e p r i e s t h o o d which i s  i n t e g r a l to i t ,  l i k e t h a t of h i s a n c e s t o r  Brahma, seems t o combine r i t u a l  p u r i t y and i m p u r i t y . I n commenting on the range o f I n d i a n c r a f t s m e n t o whom such r u l e s and  sanctions  apply,  some a u t h o r s i d e n t i f y a " b e t t e r t y p e "  218) o r even an "upper c r u s t " (Weber 1958:99) o f c r a f t s m a n .  (Basham 1954': These u s u a l l y  i n c l u d e t h e c e l e b r a t e d a r c h i t e c t - s c u l p t o r s , the workers i n p r e c i o u s m e t a l s , and t h e members o f l a r g e g u i l d s r a t h e r than those who p l y the "ancient  l o c a l t r a d e s " , l i k e p o t t e r s and weavers (Weber 1958:97).  Consequently t h e c o n v e n t i o n a l ways i n which s a n c t i o n s  i d e a l s of Indian craftsmanship  and v a l u e s  d e a l w i t h the  a s s o c i a t e d w i t h c r a f t apply  t o the h i g h  a r t s o f a r c h i t e c t u r e and temple s c u l p t u r e , and i t i s e s p e c i a l l y d i f f i c u l t to understand the ways i n which these i d e a l s mould the l i v e s o f v i l l a g e craftsmen.  The p a r t i c u l a r r o l e of the a n t h r o p o l o g i s t w o r k i n g i n a complex  s o c i e t y such as I n d i a i s t o t r y t o understand the f o r c e o f "the P r i n c i p l e " , as K r a m r i s c h c a l l s i t (1959:18), i n the work o f even t h e most common c r a f t s m e n , and how i t b r i n g s meaning t o everyday o b j e c t s and everyday A p o t t e r community p r e s e n t s undertake t h i s t a s k .  a challenging context  life.  i n which t o  The work of p o t t e r s i s consigned by most o b s e r v e r s  to t h e r e a l m o f the u t i l i t a r i a n , the common and the b a s i c .  T h e i r raw  35. m a t e r i a l s a r e d i r t , r a t h e r than f i n e stone o r p r e c i o u s m e t a l .  They a r e  nowhere numerous o r dominant p o l i t i c a l l y , b u t a r e spread more o r l e s s e v e n l y throughout I n d i a .  T h e i r p r o d u c t s a r e found i n the homes of the  poor as w e l l as the r i c h and i n the r u r a l as w e l l as urban a r e a s . South I n d i a n c r a f t s m e n , t h e i r rank and t h e i r r o l e i n s o c i a l l i f e the most ambiguous.  Among i s among  They a r e b o t h honoured and d e s p i s e d , t h e i r p r o d u c t s  are among both the p u r e s t and the most impure of human c r e a t i o n s .  Their  work as both m o d e l l e r s o f e a r t h and p r i e s t s of the temples t o l o c a l d e i t i e s encompasses the f u l l  scheme of c r a f t s m a n s h i p i n I n d i a - and forms  the b a s i s f o r an e x p l o r a t i o n o f the n a t u r e of c r e a t i v i t y and of the d i v i n e i n Hindu c u l t u r a l  life.  36. CHAPTER I I POTTERS OF SOUTH INDIA To t h i s p o i n t I have d i s c u s s e d a s p e c t s of the c r a f t t r a d i t i o n which have some r e l e v a n c e to I n d i a n c r a f t s m e n i n g e n e r a l .  I w i l l now  o u t l i n e some  p a r t i c u l a r themes i n the t r a d i t i o n of c r a f t s m a n s h i p drawn from South I n d i a , and e s p e c i a l l y those which r e f e r t o p o t t e r s . By 'South I n d i a ' I here r e f e r t o the T a m i l , T e l e g u , Malayalam Kanarese l i n g u i s t i c r e g i o n s now  and  encompassed by the s t a t e s of T a m i l Natu,  Andhra Pradesh, K e r a l a and K a r n a t a k a .  P a r t i c u l a r emphasis i s p l a c e d on  the  r e g i o n where T a m i l i s spoken, e s p e c i a l l y the T a m i l p l a i n , which i n terms of modern p o l i t i c a l d i v i s i o n s , i n c l u d e s almost south-eastern Karnataka  the whole of T a m i l  and s o u t h e r n - c o a s t a l Andhra Pradesh.  Natu, By  narrowing  the f o c u s we not o n l y b e g i n to f o r m u l a t e a more immediate c o n t e x t f o r the p r e s e n t a t i o n of the work of a p o t t e r community, but are a l s o a b l e to i n t r o d u c e r e g i o n a l i s s u e s which are not i n c l u d e d i n c o n v e n t i o n a l p r e s e n t a t i o n s of the a l l - I n d i a t r a d i t i o n s of c r a f t s m a n s h i p . i s s u e s throughout  We w i l l encounter  these  t h i s s t u d y , but t h e r e are a s e r i e s of b e l i e f s so  crucial  to the work of the p o t t e r t h a t they must be i n t r o d u c e d from the o u t s e t . These are b e l i e f s about the c r e a t i v e p r o c e s s and the s a c r e d which have t h e i r r o o t s i n the e a r l i e s t p e r i o d s of South I n d i a n c i v i l i z a t i o n .  These  have been d i s t i l l e d from the p o e t i c works i n T a m i l known as the Cankam literature  ( d i s c u s s e d i n more d e t a i l on page 44) .  A c c o r d i n g to George H a r t ,  whose t r a n s l a t i o n s and i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s of these works have p r o v i d e d a p e n e t r a t i n g i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of l i f e i n a n c i e n t South I n d i a , the p o e t r y i s of paramount importance (1975:81).  i n understanding  modern South I n d i a as w e l l  (Hart  T h i s a s s e r t i o n has been supported by r e c e n t s t u d i e s i n South  37. I n d i a n h i s t o r y and economy ( S t e i n 1980), mythology r e l i g i o u s and s o c i a l l i f e 1982) new  (Shulman 1980),  (Beck 1972:198, C l o t h e y 1977,  and  1981, P f a f f e n b e r g e r  i n which i n d i g e n o u s T a m i l b e l i e f s e x p r e s s e d i n e a r l y p o e t r y have shed  l i g h t on a s p e c t s of contemporary  b e l i e f and b e h a v i o u r .  It is  p a r t i c u l a r l y i n " v i l l a g e c u l t s " t h a t " f e a t u r e s known from the o l d e s t l a y e r of T a m i l c i v i l i z a t i o n have been p r e s e r v e d " (Shulman  1980:5).  Sacred power, a c c o r d i n g to T a m i l b e l i e f s , i s immanent and s a t u r a t e s o b j e c t s , p e o p l e , and p a r t i c u l a r places.''' D e i t i e s are dangerous a c c r e t i o n s of  t h i s power, i n v o l v i n g themselves  i n every a s p e c t of d a i l y l i f e r a t h e r  than r e m a i n i n g a l o o f or t r a n s c e n d e n t . c a p r i c i o u s and p o t e n t i a l l y m a l e v o l e n t . of  The n a t u r e of these d e i t i e s i s T h e i r power i s c h a o t i c and  capable  c r e a t i n g havoc. The  s a c r e d f o r c e s must be honoured, worshipped  and s a c r i f i c e d to i n  o r d e r t h a t h e a l t h , f e r t i l i t y and the c o n t i n u i n g renewing p r o c e s s e s of w i l l not be i n t e r r u p t e d , y e t they can be approached controlled.  life  o n l y when they can be  T h i s c o n t r o l or o r d e r (ananku), as i t i s c a l l e d i n the Cankam  works, i s a c h i e v e d by the p e r i o d i c c r e a t i o n of an e n c l o s i n g s t r u c t u r e which p l a c e s a boundary around  the s a c r e d power.  T h i s boundary may  be c o n c e i v e d  as a temple w a l l , a c o n t a i n e r , or even a human body, but the boundary must always be e r e c t e d or f o r t i f i e d by r i t u a l p r e p a r a t i o n s performed specialists.  Those s p e c i a l i s t s who  by  c o n t r o l the s a c r e d f o r c e s are  n e c e s s a r i l y of low s t a t u s as they are rendered dangerous by c l o s e c o n t a c t w i t h the s a c r e d i n the course of t h e i r o c c u p a t i o n s . o r d e r i n g absorb the d i s o r d e r and can contaminate  Those who  p e r f o r m the  o t h e r s by t h e i r  The i n f o r m a t i o n on T a m i l b e l i e f i s taken from H a r t 1975, 1980.  1979  presence.  and Shulman  38. • The  s a c r e d f o r c e s are c o n s t a n t l y i n v o l v e d i n renewal of the  the c r o p s , the seasons and  of l i f e  itself.  earth,  I n t h i s sense, they are  i n t i m a t e l y a s s o c i a t e d w i t h death and d e t e r i o r a t i o n as w e l l as b i r t h increase.  Both are encompassed by the s a c r e d .  w i t h o u t the d e s t r u c t i o n or t r a n s f o r m a t i o n new  life,  can be  created  of something e l s e , so t o a t t a i n  the l i f e of a v i c t i m must be e x t i n g u i s h e d .  c o n c e i v e d of as a c l o s e d c i r c u i t . beginning  N o t h i n g new  and  The  universe  is  C r e a t i o n i s not a unique event a t  of time, but an e v e r - r e c u r r i n g  the  event.  These a n c i e n t T a m i l b e l i e f s i n some ways complement and ways c o n f l i c t w i t h those we have reviewed from the S a n s k r i t  i n other  literature.  South I n d i a n p o t t e r s draw on b o t h t r a d i t i o n s or r a t h e r on a c u l t u r a l background i n which the t r a d i t i o n s have merged. I use  the word ' p o t t e r ' to d e s c r i b e members of a group of  whose p r i m a r y p r o f e s s i o n has  i n v o l v e d work w i t h e a r t h .  castes  Unless otherwise  i n d i c a t e d , t h i s term i s used to r e f e r to a l l members of t h i s group i n c l u d i n g men,  women and c h i l d r e n and  they a c t u a l l y make p o t s or not.  As we  to a l l who s h a l l see,  c l a i m a f f i l i a t i o n , whether the t r a d i t i o n a l c r a f t  of  the p o t t e r i n v o l v e s a complex range of s k i l l s i n a d d i t i o n to pot making. Today, as a s p e c t s of many c r a f t s become o b s o l e t e , p o r t i o n of any and  community of c r a f t s m e n p u r s u i n g  t h i s s i t u a t i o n i s not n e c e s s a r i l y r e c e n t .  the v a s t p o o l of a g r i c u l t u r a l l a b o u r has  t h e r e may  be o n l y  their traditional We  a  occupation  know, f o r example, t h a t  p e r i o d i c a l l y drawn on members of  c r a f t communities ( B e t e i l l e 1969:83, S r i n i v a s 1967:17, Dumont 1970:96). In f a c t t h e r e  "may  never have been a time when c a s t e and  c o - i n c i d e d e x a c t l y " (Dumont 1970:96).  profession  Being a member of a p o t t e r  n o n e t h e l e s s i n v o l v e s c e r t a i n b e l i e f s , a c t i v i t i e s , and  caste  r e l a t i o n s h i p s both  39. w i t h o t h e r p o t t e r s and w i t h o u t s i d e r s which draw meaning from t r a d i t i o n a l craft s k i l l s .  Some o f these a r e d e e p l y based i n a p e r c e p t i o n o f the  h i s t o r i c a l r o l e o f p o t t e r s i n South I n d i a n s o c i e t y . P o t t e r s , as many o t h e r South I n d i a n s , p l a c e a g r e a t d e a l o f emphasis on the a n t i q u i t y o f t h e i r t r a d i t i o n a l r o l e i n South I n d i a n l i f e . a p p r e c i a t e the n a t u r e o f t h e i r c r a f t i n contemporary l i f e ,  To  i t i s essential  to have an i d e a ofisome of t h e sources upon which they have drawn i n t h e f o r m u l a t i o n of t h e i r p e r c e p t i o n of the past. I n i t i a l l y some evidence  o f t h e importance o f t h i s h i s t o r i c a l  role  w i l l be summarized b e g i n n i n g w i t h t h e r o l e of p o t t e r y as r e v e a l e d i n a r c h a e o l o g i c a l r e s e a r c h and c o n t i n u i n g w i t h r e f e r e n c e s t o p o t t e r s i n e a r l y t e x t s , i n s c r i p t i o n s , and i n t h e accounts area.  of e a r l y f o r e i g n v i s i t o r s to the  Some r e f e r e n c e s t o South I n d i a n p o t t e r s i n more r e c e n t  s t u d i e s w i l l a l s o be reviewed  ethnographic  i n t h e course of commenting on t h e s t a t u s of  p o t t e r s i n South I n d i a n s o c i e t y . (a)  A r c h a e o l o g i c a l Records Although  the d e s c r i p t i v e study o f a n c i e n t p o t t e r y i n I n d i a i s now  voluminous and c o n t i n u e s t o develop made between modern t e c h n i q u e s and  t h e r e has been almost no comparison  and those of a n c i e n t t i m e s .  "The e t h n o g r a p h i c  t e c h n o l o g i c a l approach t o t h e study o f a n c i e n t p o t t e r y has l a r g e l y been  i g n o r e d i n I n d i a " (Ray & C h a k r a b a r t i 1975:227, a l s o see A l l c h i n 1968:290). Through s u r v e y i n g summaries o f a r c h a e o l o g i c a l work i n South I n d i a we may nonetheless  g a i n an i d e a about t h e c o n t i n u i t y and a n t i q u i t y of t e c h n i c a l  a s p e c t s o f t h e p o t t e r y t r a d i t i o n w i t h which we a r e concerned and d e s c r i b e an a r c h a i c f e a t u r e , i . e . , the use of urns f o r b u r i a l , which as we s h a l l s e e , o f f e r s an i n t e r e s t i n g i n s i g h t i n t o t h e work o f p o t t e r s  today.  40. By t h e l a t e N e o l i t h i c p e r i o d  ( s e c o n d - f i r s t m i l l e n i u m B.C.) a type  of p o t t e r y found i n many p a r t s o f I n d i a became common throughout the South. T h i s i s known as 'black and r e d ware'  because the p o t s were s t a c k e d  with  the mouths down, thus t h e i n s i d e s and rims were o f t e n b l a c k e n e d through r e d u c t i o n w h i l e t h e o u t s i d e s r e t a i n e d a r e d o r reddish-brown c o l o u r . Other h a l l m a r k s  o f t h i s ware i n South I n d i a were i t s l o c a l v a r i e t y ,  predominance o f u t i l i t a r i a n  types (eg. f o r c o o k i n g  s t o r a g e ) , round body, t e c h n o l o g y  and g r a i n o r water  w h i c h i n v o l v e s a f i r s t stage thrown on a  wheel and second stage beaten o u t w i t h paddle and a n v i l , a p p l i c a t i o n o f s l i p and p o l i s h , and "open f i e l d " r a t h e r than k i l n f i r i n g  ( A l l c h i n 1968:  290-91).  utilitarian  A l l these d e s c r i b e p r e c i s e l y t h e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c  wares made today throughout South I n d i a . By the i r o n age o r the s o - c a l l e d " M e g a l i t h i c " p e r i o d ( c i r c a  first  m i l l e n i u m B.C.) t h i s r e d and b l a c k ware was an u b i q u i t o u s f e a t u r e o f South Indian l i f e  (Kennedy 1980:409-410, Wheeler 1959:161-62), and i t appears a t  almost e v e r y s i t e .  Mahalingam g i v e s a d e s c r i p t i o n of each of t h e major  c e r a m i c types encountered (1969:224-28).  So s i m i l a r a r e these e a r l y  p o t t e r y types t o those now i n use t h a t t h e names f o r common modern v e s s e l s can be used t o c l a s s i f y the a r c h a e o l o g i c a l f i n d s , as was done by Rea (1915) i n h i s excavations  a t A d i c h a n a l l u r and Perumpayur.  I t i s to the middle of  t h i s p e r i o d ( i . e . c i r c a f i v e hundred B.C.) t h a t t h e spread o f D r a v i d i a n languages i s d a t e d , as w e l l as r i c e a g r i c u l t u r e and o t h e r f e a t u r e s by w h i c h South I n d i a i s c o n s i d e r e d  t o have become a c i v i l i z a t i o n  (Kennedy  1980:409, Maloney 1975:8,33). Among t h e most i n t r i g u i n g f i n d s i n a n c i e n t South I n d i a n p o t t e r y w i t h w h i c h r e d and b l a c k , ware i s a s s o c i a t e d a r e b u r i a l u r n s .  The use o f these  c l a y c o n t a i n e r s , v a r i o u s l y c a l l e d j a r s , p o t s o r u r n s , t o i n t e r r t h e dead  was e v i d e n t l y w e l l e s t a b l i s h e d l o n g b e f o r e c r e m a t i o n became p r e f e r r e d . In the  the a n c i e n t p e r i o d , a c c o r d i n g t o e a r l y South I n d i a n l i t e r a t u r e , b o t h " h i g h and the low s t r a t a " p r a c t i c e d u r n b u r i a l  (Hart 1976:57).  The urns  range from an o r d i n a r y water pot s i z e , commonly used f o r the b u r i a l of a c h i l d , t o those l a r g e enough to accommodate a f l e x e d a d u l t human body. The mouths of the u r n s a r e , however, s m a l l and i t appears from t h i s and the  remains found i n s i d e t h a t the b o d i e s were e x c a r n a t e d or s t r i p p e d of  f l e s h a f t e r death.  Only p a r t s , f o r example the l o n g bones and s k u l l , were  p l a c e d i n the u r n .  The shapes of the b u r i a l urns a r e v a r i e d and some appear  to be o r d i n a r y l a r g e p o t s of a type s t i l l used f o r s t o r a g e . l a r g e and p y r i f o r m , w i t h o u t l i d s , h a n d l e s or f e e t .  Many are  The urns were b u r i e d  from one t o twelve f e e t deep i n c e m e t a r y - l i k e groups or " u r n - f i e l d s " . The a s s o c i a t e d stone monuments and lamps, i r o n weapons, ornaments  and  s m a l l c l a y v e s s e l s found w i t h many of the b u r i a l s have spawned w i d e - r a n g i n g t h e o r i e s about the o r i g i n and e t h n i c i t y of the people b u r i e d i n them (Maloney 1975:7-8, C a s a l & C a s a l 1956:43, P a r p o l a 1973). The o l d e s t examples of b u r i a l urns have been found i n K a r n a t a k a , and date from the second m i l l e n i u m B.C.  These c o n s i s t of s m a l l p o t s p l a c e d  mouth to mouth f o r m i n g a chamber i n which the bones of i n f a n t s and grave goods were p l a c e d ( A l l c h i n 1968:311).  A l a t e N e o l i t h i c s i t e between  Madras and B a n g a l o r e y i e l d e d urns w i t h moulded g l o b u l a r b e l l i e s b r e a s t s , e v i d e n t l y r e p r e s e n t i n g pregnant women (Maloney 1975:6). be an i n d i c a t i o n of the i d e a of r e b i r t h from the p o t , which was  and T h i s may to become  prominent i n l a t e r South I n d i a n b e l i e f and w i l l be d i s c u s s e d a t l e n g t h below.  Some communities of South I n d i a , m a i n l y of the lower c a s t e s , s t i l l bury t h e i r dead and many o t h e r s have begun to cremate r a t h e r than bury t h e i r dead o n l y i n the l a s t few g e n e r a t i o n s .  By the m i d d l e of the f i r s t m i l l e n i u m B.C. u r n b u r i a l was e v i d e n t l y w i d e s p r e a d e s p e c i a l l y i n the f e r t i l e  p a r t s o f Southern T a m i l Natu, where  " i n almost e v e r y s i z e a b l e s e t t l e m e n t , t a l i (Maloney 1975:7).  ( p o t ) b u r i a l s have been u n c o v e r e d "  A t A d i c h a n a l l u r , thousands o f urns spaced about s i x f e e t  from each o t h e r were uncovered i n a f i e l d  o f over 114 a c r e s .  b u r i e d i n p i t s c u t from s o l i d r o c k and o t h e r s i n g r a v e l l y s o i l  Some were (Rea 1915).  Of s p e c i a l i n t e r e s t a r e those f i n d s w i t h i n the M a t u r a i r e g i o n which i s the home of t h e group of p o t t e r s who form the f o c u s o f t h i s s t u d y , a r e g i o n i n which they c l a i m to have r e s i d e d and c o n t r o l l e d p o t t e r y p r o d u c t i o n s i n c e w e l l b e f o r e t h e b u r i a l urns went o u t o f u s e , perhaps t h e f i f t h c e n t u r y ( D e v a k u n j a r i 1957:14).  A t f o u r p l a c e s on t h e n o r t h w e s t and s o u t h e a s t  s i d e s of M a t u r a i c i t y , b u r i a l urns were uncovered i n v i l l a g e s t o which the 3 M a t u r a i p o t t e r group s u p p l i e s earthenware and s e r v e s as p r i e s t s .  Recently,  an e x c a v a t i o n i n a suburb of the c i t y uncovered s i x massive b u r i a l urns thought t o date from the f i r s t c e n t u r y B.C.  The s i t e had been u n t i l  r e c e n t l y a b u r i a l ground of an u n t o u c h a b l e c a s t e ( T h i r u m a l a i 1980).  While  C a l d w e l l found t h a t " t h e n a t i v e s knew n o t h i n g whatever o f the p e o p l e by whom t h i s s i n g u l a r mode o f s e p u l t u r e was p r a c t i c e d , n o r o f the time when they l i v e d " (1877:280), p o t t e r s o f the M a t u r a i r e g i o n do know o f t h e t r a d i t i o n and have d e s c r i b e d t h e l a r g e p o t s as " o l d p e o p l e p o t s " (mutumakkaltali).  T h i s term i s found i n e a r l y T a m i l works from t h e t h i r d  E x c a v a t i o n s were c a r r i e d out by A. Rea i n 1887 and K.S. S r i k a n t a n i n 1930 ( D e v a k u n j a r i 1957:14-16).  43. c e n t u r y B.C. 10).  t o the t w e l f t h c e n t u r y A.D.  according  to S r i n i v a s a n (1946:  4  The  a r c h a e o l o g i c a l r e c o r d of p o t t e r y p r o d u c t i o n  e s t a b l i s h e s a c o n t i n u i t y i n p o t t e r y type and  technique  i n South I n d i a which adds substance  to the c l a i m s of p o t t e r s t o an a n c i e n t c r a f t h e r i t a g e and e s p e c i a l l y to an a n c i e n t o r i g i n f o r t h e i r p o t t e r y making t e c h n i q u e s .  T h i s l o n g and  well-  e s t a b l i s h e d p o t t e r y t r a d i t i o n i s p a r t i c u l a r l y w e l l documented i n the s o u t h - c e n t r a l r e g i o n of Tamil Natu s t a t e , i n which the p o t t e r s who focus of t h i s study  l i v e and work.  l i k e l y to y i e l d important  new  Current  are  the  archaeological research i s  r e s u l t s i n t h i s r e g a r d , and  a l s o to  provide  c l u e s to the o r i g i n s of the use of c l a y images."'  The d i c t i o n a r i e s g i v e m a t a m a t a k k a t t a l i ( F a b r i c i u s 1 1 2 ) and mudumakkattali ( L i f c o 566) f o r b u r i a l u r n . C a l d w e l l c l a i m s the f i r s t term means "pot which b o i l s o v e r " and t h a t a second term, which he c o l l e c t e d l o c a l l y , "madamattand a l i " , means "very l a r g e p o t " (1877:280). Both are l o c a l v e r s i o n s of m u t u m a k k a l t a l i a c c o r d i n g to S r i n i v a s a n (1946:10). The b o i l i n g over comes from what C a l d w e l l c a l l s a " r a t h e r f a r f e t c h e d " b e l i e f t h a t " l i t t l e people who were p l a c e d i n them used sometimes to come out of the j a r s and s i t about, as i f they had b o i l e d over out of them".. That " l i t t l e p e o p l e " were b u r i e d i n p o t s i s e x p l a i n e d by a myth which C a l d w e l l found " c u r r e n t amongst the n a t i v e s " . "They say t h a t i n the T r e t a y u g a - t h a t i s , about a m i l l i o n y e a r s ago - people used to l i v e to a g r e a t age, but t h a t however o l d they were they d i d not d i e , but the o l d e r they grew the s m a l l e r they became. They got so s m a l l at l e n g t h , t h a t to keep them out of the way of harm i t was n e c e s s a r y t o p l a c e them i n a l i t t l e t r i a n g u l a r n i c h e i n the w a l l of a n a t i v e house i n which the lamp i s kept. At l e n g t h , when the younger people c o u l d no l o n g e r bear the t r o u b l e of l o o k i n g a f t e r t h e i r dwarf a n c e s t o r s , they p l a c e d them i n e a r t h e n j a r s , put w i t h them i n the j a r s a number of l i t t l e v e s s e l s c o n t a i n i n g r i c e , w a t e r , o i l , e t c . , and b u r i e d them near the v i l l a g e " (1877:280). 'Such r e s e a r c h i s c u r r e n t l y i n p r o g r e s s , under the d i r e c t i o n of Dr. Nagasamy of the T a m i l Natu S t a t e A r c h a e o l o g y Department.  R.  44. The a r c h a e o l o g i c a l r e c o r d of the b u r i a l u r n t r a d i t i o n , c o u p l e d w i t h the t e x t u a l r e f e r e n c e s t o be c o n s i d e r e d i n the f o l l o w i n g s e c t i o n , p r o v i d e the f i r s t  i n d i c a t i o n of the c o n t r i b u t i o n of the p o t t e r ' s work t o l i f e c y c l e  e v e n t s , and the a s s o c i a t i o n of the e a r t h e n v e s s e l w i t h l i f e and  death,  which becomes a major theme i n t h i s study of the p o t t e r ' s c r a f t .  (b)  Texts The e a r l i e s t l i t e r a t u r e i n T a m i l c o n s i s t s of a l a r g e body of p o e t i c  works known c o l l e c t i v e l y as Cankam t e x t s .  These i n c l u d e n i n e a n t h o l o g i e s  c o n t a i n i n g 2,279 poems of v a r i o u s l e n g t h s , the e a r l i e s t of which were composed d u r i n g the e a r l y c e n t u r i e s of our e r a .  Other works, composed a  few c e n t u r i e s l a t e r , but u s u a l l y i n c l u d e d w i t h the Cankam t e x t s are a grammar (Tolkappiyam)  and two e p i c s ( C i l a p p a t t i k a r a m and  Manimekalai).  T h i s l i t e r a t u r e t a k e s i t s name from the l i t e r a r y academy (Cankam) of M a t u r a i a t w h i c h , a c c o r d i n g to t r a d i t i o n , the poems were f i r s t by t h e i r a u t h o r s .  presented  The poems t e l l of two e a r l i e r academies l o c a t e d i n  c i t i e s c l o s e r t o the c o a s t which were d e s t r o y e d by the sea.  The Cankam  poems b o l d l y c l a i m e d t o d e s c r i b e events s t r e t c h i n g back over thousands of y e a r s p r e v i o u s to t h e i r c o m p o s i t i o n , but are most u s e f u l f o r the of a s p e c t s of c u l t u r a l era.  life  i n the c e n t u r i e s spanning  overview  the b e g i n n i n g of our  A c c o r d i n g t o George H a r t , they a r e , d e s p i t e t h e i r  lyrical  quality,  among the "most i m p o r t a n t sources f o r the study of a n c i e n t I n d i a " because, u n l i k e most e a r l y l i t e r a t u r e i n S a n s k r i t , they g i v e abundant d e s c r i p t i o n s of the l i v e s of o r d i n a r y people and of everyday  life  (Hart 1976:41).  F i r s t - second c e n t u r y A.D. ( S h a s t r i 1976:115-117). Hart dates them between the second and t h i r d c e n t u r i e s A.D. (1975:9, 1976:51).  45. Among the o c c u p a t i o n a l  groups which are d e s c r i b e d  i n Cankam p o e t r y  are p o t t e r s , v a r i o u s l y addressed as Manmakan ( e a r t h p e r s o n ) , (potmaking k i n g ) or V e t k o v a r ( p o t t e r k i n g ) .  The  K a l a n Ceykove  most common terms  i n c l u d e the a r c h a i c word ko meaning " k i n g " , " f a t h e r " , " p o t t e r " , or man" il  (Tamil L e x i c o n ,  1932:1190).  Ko  i s used today i n c o n j u n c t i o n  ( k o y i l or k o v i l ) , a term which means p a l a c e ,  a l s o see r e f e r e n c e  "great,  sanctuary  with  or temple.  We  t o the p o t t e r as kuyavar ( e a r t h person) i n the Cankam  poems N a r r i n a i 200:4 & 293:2 ( P i l l a y 1969:207), a term which has  remained  i n common use up  potter's  t o the p r e s e n t .  wheel and v a r i o u s p o t s and  The  t h e i r uses are d e s c r i b e d  Akam 77-78 ( S r i d a r a n 1979:2,3, P i l l a y Numerous r e f e r e n c e s jars  (tali).  p l a c e f o r f i r i n g p o t s , the  i n the poem Akananuru,  1969:207).  are made t o the p o t t e r ' s t a s k of making b u r i a l  I n the poem Purananuru 256,  a widow t e l l s the p o t t e r how  has come s e c r e t l y , l i k e a l i z a r d , on the a x l e of the c a r t b e a r i n g of her s l a i n husband and begs him h o l d her  too.^  she  the body  t o b u i l d the b u r i a l j a r l a r g e enough to  I n a n o t h e r poem from the a n t h o l o g y Purananuru (228),  poet A i y u r Mutuvanar p i t i e s the p o t t e r whose t a s k i t i s to b u i l d the  the burial  j a r f o r the C o l a k i n g Netuma V a l a v a n ( S r i d a r a n 1979:2). The  b l a c k smoke of the p o t t e r ' s workshop h i d e s  the sky, but  k i n g so g r e a t , the p o t t e r i s t o l d he w i l l have to use and  a mountain f o r mud.  See  the w o r l d  as h i s wheel  The b u r i a l j a r s themselves are mentioned  throughout the Cankam works.  a t r a n s l a t i o n by A.K.  a  Both poems address the p o t t e r as maker of water  p o t s f o r the "wide o l d c i t y " . repeatedly  to e n c l o s e  Ramanujan i n Z v e l e b i l 1973:82.  46. The poetry. (Lat.  p o t t e r ' s p r i e s t l y r o l e i s a l s o i n d i c a t e d by the e a r l y Cankam  N a r r i n a i 293 d e s c r i b e s  a p o t t e r wearing a garland  of n o c c i  flowers  v i t e x nugundu) who conducts w o r s h i p (puja) by s a c r i f i c i n g goats and  i n v i t i n g demons and crows t o a t t e n d  the f e a s t (Shanmugam 1970:4).  to the poem, i t i s the p o t t e r ' s duty t o i n a u g u r a t e  According  the r e l i g i o u s f e s t i v a l .  P o t t e r s c l a i m many Cankam p o e t s , heroes and k i n g s as members of t h e i r c a s t e and such c l a i m s a r e a common way i n which T a m i l s p r o u d l y to t h i s a n c i e n t  literature.  link  themselves  One famous poem, Purananuru 66, about the war  between the C o l a k i n g K a r i k a l a n and the Cera k i n g Perun C e r a l a t a n , f o r example, i s a t t r i b u t e d t o V e n n i k k u y a t t i y a r ,  by h e r name a woman o f the p o t t e r  community (Basham 1954:178, Shanmugam 1970:4).  The poet K o t a n , who i n  the T o l k a p p i y a m , d u e l l e d w i t h a n o t h e r g r e a t poet b e f o r e  the Cankam assembly,  i s a l s o c a l l e d p o t t e r poet ( V e t k o p p u l a v a r ) (Shanmugam 1970:4). Tamil l i t e r a t u r e i s l i k e w i s e the source o f many c l a i m s ancestors. one  Later  to i l l u s t r i o u s  Perhaps the b e s t known p o t t e r of these t e x t s i s T i r u n i l a k a n t a r ,  o f the s i x t y - t h r e e S a i v a s a i n t s (Nayanraar) whose l i v e s and e x p l o i t s  are c o d i f i e d i n the t w e l f t h c e n t u r y  a n t h o l o g y , P e r i y a Puranam (Shulman 1980:  13). These a r e some o f the sources from which T a m i l p o t t e r s draw t o s u b s t a n t i a t e t h e i r c l a i m t o an i m p o r t a n t p l a c e i n T a m i l h i s t o r y .  The t e x t s  suggest t h a t from the e a r l i e s t p e r i o d of South I n d i a n c i v i l i z a t i o n , were c o n s i d e r e d recognized  potters  t o be a community w i t h a d i s t i n c t s e t o f s k i l l s , and were  as such w i t h f l a t t e r i n g t i t l e s .  l o c a l r e l i g i o u s ceremonies i s i n d i c a t e d . have p a r t i c u l a r r e l e v a n c e  A prescribed p r i e s t l y role i n Most o f the s t o r i e s and poems which  t o a s p e c t s o f contemporary l i f e i n t h e p o t t e r  community w i l l be t o l d o r d e s c r i b e d  according  t o the c o n t e x t  i n which they  are  m e a n i n g f u l t o p o t t e r s themselves.  As such, the v e r s i o n s o f s t o r i e s from  a n c i e n t l i t e r a t u r e most o f t e n used w i l l be those passed down o r a l l y o r those drawn from t h e K u l a l a Purana,  the p o t t e r c a s t e h i s t o r y , o r i g i n a l l y w r i t t e n  i n palm l e a f m a n u s c r i p t b u t here r e f e r r e d t o i n a v e r s i o n p u b l i s h e d a t Madras i n 1912?  (c)  Inscriptions Much o f the s o c i a l and p o l i t i c a l  h i s t o r y of South I n d i a has been  r e c o n s t r u c t e d on the b a s i s of stone and copper i n s c r i p t i o n s , thousands o f which have been c o p i e d and s t u d i e d i n d e t a i l .  A c c o r d i n g t o Murton  (1979:6),  "stone and copper i n s c r i p t i o n s have proven t o be the most c o p i o u s and a u t h e n t i c s o u r c e s f o r the g e n e r a l h i s t o r y o f South I n d i a " .  Many c a s t e s i n South I n d i a have f u l f i l l e d a need t o r e c o r d and l e g i t i m a t e t h e i r h i s t o r i e s t h r o u g h h a v i n g a Purana composed. These i n v a r i a b l y l i n k the c a s t e t o some c l a s s i c a l P u r a n i c geneaology of k i n g s , sages or gods but a l s o e x p r e s s i m p o r t a n t s y m b o l i c p e r c e p t i o n s of i d e n t i t y as w e l l as some h i s t o r i c a l e x p e r i e n c e o f the c a s t e (see Shulman 1982:29). I t took me almost a y e a r t o o b t a i n a copy o f the K u l a l a Purana, a l t h o u g h p o t t e r s I met r e p e a t e d l y r e f e r r e d t o i t . There always seemed t o be a hope o f a copy " i n t h e next v i l l a g e " o r a t the house o f a kinsman, which proved t o have been m i s p l a c e d o r passed on. My f r u s t r a t i o n began when an o l d palm l e a f v e r s i o n was l o c a t e d f o r my use and m i s t a k e n l y g i v e n t o a l o c a l museum o f f i c i a l who then r e f u s e d e i t h e r t o r e t u r n i t t o the p o t t e r s or a l l o w me t o see i t . A p r i n t e d v e r s i o n i n the p o s s e s s i o n o f a p o t t e r i n A r a p p a l a i y a m where I conducted r e s e a r c h was k e p t from me because the owner f e a r e d I would r e p u b l i s h i t , something he planned t o do h i m s e l f . He s u b s e q u e n t l y t o l d me h i s v e r s i o n s o f most of the major s t o r i e s , some of which a r e r e f e r r e d t o below.  48. P o t t e r s are one  of the d i s t i n c t o c c u p a t i o n a l  i n s c r i p t i o n s ( S t e i n 1980:213).  groups l i s t e d i n these  They are c a l l e d by a v a r i e t y of names, the  most common of which are Vetkovan or V e t k o v a r ( p o t t e r k i n g ) and forms Vetko or V e l k o .  shorter  P o t t e r s are a l s o addressed as Mannutaiyan, (owner  of the e a r t h ) , and by v a r i o u s to p o t t e r s , i . e . kucavan (p. The  the  forms of a term s t i l l w i d e l y  used to r e f e r  62).  most f r e q u e n t c o n t e x t f o r r e f e r e n c e  to p o t t e r s i n i n s c r i p t i o n s  are temple agreements which i t e m i z e the s e r v i c e s of s p e c i a l i s t groups the b e n e f i t s they r e c e i v e d .  From these i t i s p o s s i b l e to i n c l u d e  potters  w i t h groups which were e s s e n t i a l to the f u n c t i o n i n g of temples and i n s t i t u t i o n s , b o t h i n t h e i r s u p p l y of v e s s e l s and assemblies.  and  monastic  i n t h e i r attendance at  G r a n t s to p o t t e r s from v i l l a g e a s s e m b l i e s are a l s o r e c o r d e d  ( S r i d a r a n 1979:4).  For t h e i r s e r v i c e p o t t e r s r e c e i v e d  l a n d s and  house  s i t e s known as k u c a k k a n i , k u c a p a t t i , or k u c a v a n n i l a m ( a l l c o n j u n c t i o n s kucavan / p o t t e r / and words meaning l a n d ) . called kulala v r i t t i . occupational had  become c o n v e n t i o n a l i z e d  ranking and  These l a n d s were i n c e r t a i n cases  By the m e d i e v a l p e r i o d  s p e c i a l i s t s holding  the number of c a s t e s  to e i g h t e e n .  These Ayakars i n c l u d e d  a l s o the c r a f t s m e n : the s m i t h s , c a r p e n t e r s , 453).  low scribes  p o t t e r s and weavers ,  P o t t e r s were sometimes donors of money or  l i v e s t o c k to temples f o r the support of p a r t i c u l a r r i t u a l s . s k i l l s went beyond the manufacture of p o t t e r y  L e i d e n copper p l a t e of Raja Raja C o l a n from the e l e v e n t h  The  major s e t t l e m e n t s  larger  century records  the g r a n t of a v i l l a g e t o support the b u i l d i n g of a s h r i n e . signatories representing  That t h e i r  i s i n d i c a t e d by an i n s c r i p t i o n  . d e s c r i b i n g them as v i l l a g e a c c o u n t a n t s ( S r i d a r a n 1979:4).  twenty-six  of  such s e r v i c e shares i n l a n d i n r u r a l a r e a s  sweepers, b a r b e r s , and washermen as w e l l as h i g h r a n k i n g  ( S t e i n 1980:25, 424,  of  Of  the  of the l o c a l i t y ,  five  49. are c a l l e d accountant C o l a dynasty  p o t t e r ( K a r a n a t t a n Vetkovan) ( S t e i n 1980:119-121). •  i n s c r i p t i o n s o f t h e e l e v e n t h c e n t u r y make numerous  r e f e r e n c e s t o taxes l e v i e d on p o t t e r s , sometimes c a l l e d (kucakkanam), o f t e n t i e d t o t h e number o f w o r k i n g wheel t a x ( c a k k a r a k a n i k a i o r t i r i k a i - a y a m ) .  'potter tax',  u n i t s , eg. p o t t e r ' s  A long h i s t o r y of disputes  over payment from the r e g i o n s of Daramapuri and Kaveripumpatinam a r e recorded.  The f o l l o w i n g s t o r y , which i s s a i d t o have o r i g i n a t e d i n the  f o u r t e e n t h o r f i f t e e n t h c e n t u r y , summarizes such a d i s p u t e .  A member o f the C a l i v a k a n a p o t t e r s , one C o l a i C e t t i , d e f i e d the t a x c o l l e c t o r s ( p a t t i r a ) o f the V i j a y a n a g a r a k i n g , a r g u i n g t h a t p o t t e r s a r e exempt. The t a x e s , demanded on p e n a l t y o f a ban on e n t r y o r e x i t t o t h e o f f e n d e r ' s house (ranpavatam) i n c l u d e d 'king's t a x ' (aranmanai v a r i ) , 'customs t a x ' ( c u n k a v a r i ) , 'tax f o r s e l l i n g c l a y d o l l s ' (pommai v a r i ) , and 'tax f o r s u p p o r t i n g c o u r t e n t e r t a i n e r s ' (kuttati vari). The p o t t e r ' s daughter d e f e a t e d the t a x c o l l e c t o r s i n a c o n t e s t t o b r i n g a dead r o o s t e r back t o life. Each invoked d i v i n e h e l p and o n l y the g i r l was s u c c e s s f u l . The t a x c o l l e c t o r s r e s i g n e d t h e i r t i t l e s and s i g n e d an agreement r e l e a s i n g a l l C a l i v a k a n a from t a x e s . Any p o t t e r who would c o n t i n u e t o pay t a x e s was s u b j e c t t o banishment from the c a s t e and r u i n by god (paraphrased from an a r t i c l e i n T i n a Mani Cutar 1980:8).  Probably  the most i m p o r t a n t  i n s c r i p t i o n f o r an u n d e r s t a n d i n g  h i s t o r y o f South I n d i a n p o t t e r s i s the copper p l a t e of M a t u k k a r a i ,  of the copies  of which have been taken down and s e c t i o n s p u b l i s h e d , most c o m p l e t e l y by K. Canmukam (1974).  This i n s c r i p t i o n records i n meticulous  agreement between the farmer/landowner c a s t e (Kavuntar)  d e t a i l an  of t w e n t y - f o u r  r e g i o n s o f Konku Natu, the n o r t h - e a s t e r l y r e g i o n o f modern Tamil and p o t t e r s o f P a n t i y a Natu whom t h e farmers had induced  t o s e t t l e i n Konku.  Two d a t e s , A.D. 1259 and A.D. 1385, c a l c u l a t e d by d i f f e r e n t systems, a r e r e c o r d e d than the a c t u a l e v e n t .  Natu,  calendrical  i n t h e agreement b u t both a r e thought t o be l a t e r The f a r m e r s ' promises t o p o t t e r s o f s t a t u s  50. p r i v i l e g e s , m a r r i a g e and itemized.  T h i s was  f e s t i v a l r i g h t s and  l i v i n g expenses were f i r s t  f o l l o w e d by the b a s i c annual exchange arrangements of  p o t t e r y f o r a g r i c u l t u r a l produce and  of the payments f o r p o t t e r y  supplied f o r marriage, a l l l i s t e d according  to the c a s t e b e i n g  Next, the payments f o r making v o t i v e o f f e r i n g s and houses and  excavating  ponds were r e c o r d e d .  payments f o r them were a l s o d e s c r i b e d .  supplied.  V a r i o u s r i t u a l d u t i e s and  The  ways i n which t h i s  The  the  inscription contemporary  e s p e c i a l l y those from P a n t i y a Natu, from where  the p o t t e r s of the M a t u k k a r a i p l a t e o r i g i n a l l y m i g r a t e d , w i l l be below.  be  images, c o n s t r u c t i n g  shows c o n t i n u i t y w i t h and h e l p s e l u c i d a t e the a c t i v i t i e s of South I n d i a n p o t t e r s , and  to  e a r l y i n s c r i p t i o n s provide  developed  e v i d e n c e of the i n t e g r a t i o n of  South I n d i a n p o t t e r s i n the systems of s e r v i c e to t e m p l e s , c o u r t s ,  and  v i l l a g e areas.  (d)  Early Foreign  Accounts  For many e a r l y commentators on I n d i a , European t r a v e l l e r s , missionaries, administrators the a r c h e t y p a l  or s c h o l a r s , the v i l l a g e p o t t e r  represented  c r a f t s m a n , a symbol of the " p r i m o r d i a l " v i l l a g e system.  One  of the most p o w e r f u l e x p r e s s i o n s of t h i s c o n c e p t i o n i s the d e s c r i p t i o n of the "Dakhan p o t t e r " by Birdwood (1880), which has been paraphrased by Monier W i l l i a m s and  thus was  p o t t e r , "one  T h u r s t o n (1909  u l t i m a t e l y woven i n t o numerous g a z e t t e e r s  For Birdwood, p o t t e r y was, adaptation  (1891:460-61) and  t o use,  successively  and  census p u b l i c a t i o n s .  i n i t s d i r e c t n e s s , s i m p l i c i t y of form  the " p u r e s t "  and  of the a r t s i n I n d i a (1880:301) and  of the most u s e f u l and  respected  h a p p i e r than the h e r e d i t a r y p o t t e r " .  The  the  members of the community".  "In the happy r e l i g i o u s o r g a n i z a t i o n of Hindu v i l l a g e l i f e , man  V o l . IV:109),  there  i s no  r e a s o n f o r the " d i g n i t y of h i s  51. life",  "assured p l a c e " , h i s p r o v i s i o n f o r " l i t t l e  and "contentment  of mind" was  food and l e s s c l o t h i n g "  thought t o be the "system of l a n d e d tenure  which has p r e v a i l e d i n I n d i a from the time of the code of Manu... and  has  s t e r e o t y p e d the s o c i a l c o n d i t i o n and c i v i l i z a t i o n of the c o u n t r y " ( I b i d . , p. 312).  The p o t t e r was  a t once the r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of an i d y l l i c  conservatism  and t r a d i t i o n a l i s m , "as l i t t l e a f f e c t e d by the coming and g o i n g of r e l i g i o u s or  p o l i t i c a l r e v o l u t i o n s . . . as a r o c k by the r i s i n g and f a l l i n g of the  t i d e " ( I b i d . , p. 320) and of the r o m a n t i c n o t i o n of v i l l a g e community or . ..9 republic If of  . .  .  as a s e l f - s u f f i c i e n t d e m o c r a t i c  unit.  the r o l e of the v i l l a g e p o t t e r appealed t o the r o m a n t i c n o t i o n s  some Europeans of the t i m e , t h i s enthusiasm does not seem to have been  shared by o t h e r South I n d i a n s , i n the o p i n i o n of e a r l y o b s e r v e r s . r e f e r e n c e t o the s o c i a l p o s i t i o n of p o t t e r s taken from H.A. r e f e r r e d to i n T h u r s t o n  Holder,  (1909:189) suggested t h a t they are a "poor  compared t o the a r t i s a n s (Kammalar), " t h e i r o c c u p a t i o n i s . . . d e s p i s e d by o t h e r s " .  A  A l s o quoted i s the Madras Census Report  class"  somewhat (Stuart,  which c l a i m s t h a t " t h e i r s t u p i d i t y and i g n o r a n c e are p r o v e r b i a l " .  1891),  These  statements and o t h e r s of a s i m i l a r tone from p u b l i c a t i o n s of the same p e r i o d (eg.  Dubois  1906:63 and S h e r r i n g 1974 V o l . 111:123) may  have been drawn  from a v e r y e a r l y c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n found i n N e l s o n (1868:72).  His only  r e f e r e n c e to p o t t e r s s t a t e s t h a t "The Kusavans are p o t t e r s , men for  proverbial  i g n o r a n c e and s t u p i d i t y and d e s p i s e d a c c o r d i n g l y " . In  terms of more d e t a i l e d e t h n o g r a p h i c i n f o r m a t i o n on South I n d i a n  p o t t e r s , the e a r l y a c c o u n t s are l i m i t e d . See d i s c u s s i o n by Dumont 1957:23-41.  P o t t e r s were s c a t t e r e d  throughout  the South I n d i a n r e g i o n .  I n no p l a c e d i d they c o n s t i t u t e a b l o c l a r g e  enough t o a t t r a c t p a r t i c u l a r i n t e r e s t by the B r i t i s h a d m i n i s t r a t i o n and indeed were o f t e n o v e r l o o k e d c o m p l e t e l y i n e a r l y census p u b l i c a t i o n s . P o t t e r s were c o n s i d e r e d " c o n s e r v a t i v e by n a t u r e " ( A n a n t h a k r i s h n a 1935 V o l . IV:16) and r a r e l y p a r t i c i p a t e d i n e d u c a t i o n a l o p p o r t u n i t i e s o r c i v i l service.  A t the same time they d i d n o t p r e s e n t any s i g n i f i c a n t  political  or s o c i a l c h a l l e n g e t o the a u t h o r i t i e s o r the p r e v a i l i n g o r d e r , a means by which some o t h e r c a s t e s had g a i n e d n o t i c e and n o t o r i e t y . " ^ The most complete summary o f e a r l y notes on South I n d i a n p o t t e r s i s found Thurston's  famous e t h n o g r a p h i c  i n Edgar  d i c t i o n a r y , Castes and T r i b e s of Southern  I n d i a (1909 V o l . I V , "Kusavan", pp. 188-197) and from t h i s we may a s s e s s both the e x t e n t and the l i m i t s of the a v a i l a b l e i n f o r m a t i o n . From T h u r s t o n we l e a r n some g e n e r a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s o f the p o t t e r s ; the s i m i l a r i t y o f t h e i r c e r e m o n i a l s  to those o f farmer/landowners  ( " V e l l a l a " ) , and i n c o n t r a s t , t h e i r wearing  of the s a c r e d t h r e a d and r o l e  as p r i e s t s t o the d e i t i e s " P i d a r i " and " A i y a n a r " i n which they were to show some a f f i n i t i e s t o Brahmans.  An e a r l y g a z e t t e e r of M a t u r a i  D i s t r i c t i s quoted f o r i n f o r m a t i o n on the p o t t e r marriage a few d e t a i l s on d i v o r c e .  thought  ceremony and  T h u r s t o n d e s c r i b e s the o p e r a t i o n of a p o t t e r ' s  wheel and f i r i n g of p o t s , m i s t a k i n g a r e g i o n a l v a r i a t i o n o f p o t t e r t e c h n o l o g y f o r a g e n e r a l p a t t e r n and o m i t t i n g s e v e r a l c r u c i a l stages of the p o t making p r o c e s s .  The use o f v o t i v e images of i n f a n t s and horses  made by the p o t t e r i s d e s c r i b e d as i s t h e n e c e s s i t y of s p e c i a l pots f o r marriages  and f u n e r a l s .  Examples o f the w o r s h i p  of t h e p o t t e r ' s wheel and  See f o r the N a t a r , Hardgrave 1969 and f o r the K a l l a r , B l a c k b u r n 1978.  53. ceremony o f ' p a i n t i n g the eyes' a r e p r o v i d e d . urns i n the a n c i e n t p e r i o d i s a l s o  The making o f s e p u l c h r a l  mentioned.  A c c o r d i n g t o T h u r s t o n , the p o t t e r c a s t e i s d i v i d e d i n t o t h r e e t e r r i t o r i a l s e c t i o n s , c o r r e s p o n d i n g t o the a n c i e n t T a m i l kingdoms " C h o l a , Chera and Pandya".  They have the t i t l e s  "Udayan and V e l a n " .  Legends a r e  r e c o u n t e d l i n k i n g p o t t e r s by descent t o Brahma, and t o a Brahman f a t h e r through m a r r i a g e , b o t h o f which w i l l be d i s c u s s e d l a t e r . T h u r s t o n ' s s u r v e y i n c l u d e s r e f e r e n c e t o a s t r a n g e and f a r - f e t c h e d anonymous account o f a s a c r i f i c e and f e a s t a s s i s t e d by p o t t e r s i n which Brahmans gorge on h a l f - c o o k e d meat''"''" and c o n c l u d e s w i t h the r e c o u n t i n g o f s e v e r a l gruesome cases o f amputation r e s u l t i n g from m i s t a k e s i n the s e t t i n g of broken bones, a s k i l l Subsequent  f o r which p o t t e r s were once w e l l known.  p u b l i c a t i o n s on South I n d i a n r e l i g i o n and s o c i e t y have  drawn on T h u r s t o n ' s account f o r i n f o r m a t i o n about p o t t e r s , as have most I n d i a n government p u b l i c a t i o n s . for of  The M a t u r a i D i s t r i c t G a z e t t e e r of 1960,  example, r e l i e s e x c l u s i v e l y on T h u r s t o n ' s i n f o r m a t i o n .  I n the c o u r s e  my study the b i t s of i n f o r m a t i o n found i n T h u r s t o n ' s account w i l l  r e a p p e a r , n o t so much t o be c h a l l e n g e d , b u t t o be expanded upon and brought t o g e t h e r i n an e f f o r t t o form a coherent p a t t e r n . Another group o f e a r l y accounts which make r e f e r e n c e t o p o t t e r s are of  those w h i c h d e a l s p e c i f i c a l l y w i t h l o c a l gods and r e l i g i o u s South I n d i a .  Elmore  traditions  B e g i n n i n g w i t h C a l d w e l l (1849) and c o n t i n u i n g through  (1915) and whitehead  (1921), these s u r v e y s o f f e r v a l u a b l e d e t a i l on  r i t u a l p r a c t i c e , y e t a r e so weighted w i t h h i s t o r i c a l and t h e o l o g i c a l p o l e m i c s  A l s o d i s c u s s e d by B i a r d e a u 1971:34-5.  54. t h a t the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the p r a c t i c e s and t h e i r s o c i a l c o n t e x t are d i f f i c u l t to a p p r e c i a t e .  There was  an e f f o r t made by these w r i t e r s to  d i s t i n g u i s h i n d i g e n o u s ( s o - c a l l e d D r a v i d i a n ) customs which were c h a r a c t e r i z e d as " d e v i l w o r s h i p " or "demonolatry" Hinduism  ( C a l d w e l l 1849:19, 20) from B r a h m a n i c a l  ("Aryan") and i t s p h i l o s o p h i c a l t r a d i t i o n s .  v i e w p o i n t , B r a h m a n i c a l Hinduism was  A c c o r d i n g to t h e i r  the mark of c i v i l i z a t i o n ,  and  religious  p r a c t i c e s o u t s i d e i t s s t r i c t domain, such as those i n which p o t t e r s p l a y e d a prominent r o l e , were c h a r a c t e r i z e d as i n v o l v i n g l i t t l e and few c o h e r e n t t r a d i t i o n s  (Elmore 1915:4, Whitehead  specialization  1921:154).  A f i n a l s u b j e c t encountered i n e a r l y accounts which i s r e l e v a n t to the  r o l e of p o t t e r s i n South I n d i a i n v o l v e s a l l i a n c e s among v a r i o u s c a s t e s .  P o t t e r s , i n c o n t r a s t to most o t h e r c r a f t s m e n , were o f t e n d e s c r i b e d as b e i n g a l l i e d w i t h a g r i c u l t u r a l i s t s , and t h i s a l l i a n c e w i l l become i m p o r t a n t t o our u n d e r s t a n d i n g of t h e i r c r a f t .  One way  of o r d e r i n g a l l i a n c e s  and  o p p o s i t i o n s among c a s t e s i n South I n d i a has been through r e f e r e n c e to a dual d i v i s i o n . the  M e n t i o n of such a d i v i s i o n f i r s t appears i n i n s c r i p t i o n s of  e l e v e n t h c e n t u r y (Beck 1970:177) and i n d i c a t e s one group h a v i n g d i r e c t  t i e s t o a g r i c u l t u r a l i s t s and t h e i r a s s o c i a t e s , w h i l e the o t h e r group more independant, u r b a n - o r i e n t e d and m o b i l e .  remains  The s e t t l e d a g r i c u l t u r a l  and  s e r v i c e communities were l a b e l l e d " r i g h t " or v a l a n k a i w h i l e more mobile a r t i s a n s and t r a d e r s were l a b e l l e d " l e f t " or i t a n k a i .  The o r i g i n s of the  d i v i s i o n are obscure but may have been some k i n d of response to the h i g h degree of t e r r i t o r i a l segmentation i n e a r l y South I n d i a n s o c i e t y and to the complex and u n s t a b l e s o c i a l s t a t u s of non-Brahman c a s t e s ( S t e i n  1980:207).  A l a r g e middle range of c a s t e s seems t o have been even l e s s o r d e r e d by t r a d i t i o n a l h i e r a r c h i c a l schemes l i k e v a r n a than i n o t h e r p a r t s of I n d i a . I t was  among them t h a t the d i v i s i o n may  have formed, e v e n t u a l l y  encompassing  55. lower c a s t e s as w e l l . D e t a i l s r e c o r d e d by f o r e i g n o b s e r v e r s from the e i g h t e e n t h onward add much t o our knowledge o f the d u a l d i v i s i o n .  century  Many were  confused  by what they encountered because i t d i d n ' t conform t o the p r e s c r i p t i o n s o f the a n c i e n t law books (Dubois  1906:24), and some were concerned because a  r i s i n g l e v e l o f c o n f l i c t between members of the l e f t and r i g h t c a s t e s , expressed  i n r i v a l r y f o r r i t u a l p r i v i l e g e s , threatened  (Nelson 1868 P t . 11:4).  to d i s r u p t order  Burton S t e i n reproduces e i g h t l i s t s o f the r i g h t  and l e f t c a s t e s drawn up by o b s e r v e r s d u r i n g the n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y 1980:474-77).  (Stein  T h e i r i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s , a l t h o u g h not comprehensive and i n some  d e t a i l s c o n t r a d i c t o r y , g e n e r a l l y c o n f i r m the independence from the d i v i s i o n of the Brahmans and the complex b i f u r c a t i o n o f most o t h e r c a s t e s ; the r i g h t group c o n s i s t i n g o f farmers and t h e i r a l l i e s ,  i n c l u d i n g p o t t e r s , and the  l e f t dominated by urban commercial and a r t i s a n groups and g e n e r a l l y c o n s i d e r e d " l o w e r " and more p o l l u t i n g  ( I b i d . , p. 2 0 1 ) . By the l a t e  c e n t u r y the c o n f l i c t between the two groups had d i e d down and d u r i n g c e n t u r y the f a c t i o n a l r i v a l r y and even t h e memory o f the l e f t / r i g h t has a l l b u t d i e d out.  nineteenth this division  S u r v i v a l of elements of the d i v i s i o n i n the  contemporary s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n o f a r e g i o n o f South I n d i a i s , however, e x p l a i n e d i n a major a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l study  (Beck 1972) and here we d i s c o v e r  some o f the u n d e r l y i n g p r i n c i p l e s which a r e expressed The  i n the d i v i s i o n .  p a r t i c i p a t i o n o f c a s t e s o f the r i g h t i s e s s e n t i a l f o r the performance  of a l l l o c a l f e s t i v a l s . i n k i n s h i p and marriage  The l o c a l o r i e n t a t i o n o f r i g h t c a s t e s i s expressed a l l i a n c e s r e s t r i c t e d to a l i m i t e d t e r r i t o r y .  customs f o l l o w those o f the l a n d l o r d s who l e a d the d i v i s i o n . s t r a t e g i e s d i r e c t e d toward p o l i t i c a l  These i n c l u d e  power and h a b i t s which resemble  of k i n g s o r K s h a t r i y a s o f the c l a s s i c a l t e x t s .  The  those  The c a s t e s o f the l e f t , on  56. the o t h e r hand, have t r a d i t i o n s  less  t i e d to p a r t i c u l a r  territories,  m a i n t a i n w i d e r a l l i a n c e s , and model t h e i r h a b i t s on the c l a s s i c a l p a t t e r n of Brahmans.  Most emphasize the c a s t e p u r i t y  t h e i r group.  The types o f b e h a v i o u r  and c e r e m o n i a l  characteristic  orthodoxy o f  o f each d i v i s i o n and  the p l a c e o f the major c a s t e s i n the system a r e r e c o r d e d by Beck (1970: 793-98). Craftsmen a r e r e p r e s e n t e d although  i n both d i v i s i o n s  a c c o r d i n g t o most l i s t s ,  they a r e o f t e n a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the " l e f t " because the prominent  and p o w e r f u l Kammalar a r t i s a n s  a r e a l e a d i n g c a s t e o f the b l o c .  Kammalar have t r a d i t i o n a l l y r e l i e d on t h e i r w i d e l y r a n g i n g links, mobility,  and independence i n r i t u a l m a t t e r s  of landowning c a s t e s . distribute  The  territorial  t o c h a l l e n g e the power  C e r t a i n groups o f weavers and o t h e r c r a f t s m e n  who  t h e i r p r o d u c t s w i d e l y , i m p e r s o n a l l y , and o u t s i d e the t r a d i t i o n a l  agricultural  distribution  system have been t h e i r a l l i e s .  Most p o t t e r s ,  p a i n t e r s , some weavers and some c a r p e n t e r s and smiths have been most o f t e n a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the c a s t e s of t h e r i g h t , r e c e i v i n g  h e r e d i t a r y shares  i n the  h a r v e s t and s e r v i n g a t e r r i t o r i a l l y c i r c u m s c r i b e d group of p a t r o n s and clients.  I n many c a s t e s o f c r a f t s m e n , membership was p r o b a b l y  castes having  l o n g s t a n d i n g o c c u p a t i o n a l and r i t u a l r i g h t s  of the r i g h t c a s t e s and o t h e r s , through retaining  displacement  i n the p a t t e r n  and m i g r a t i o n ,  l i n k s t o f a r o f f p l a c e s and s e l l i n g t h e i r work by p i e c e and on  the open market l i k e most o f t h e c a s t e s o f the l e f t . p o s s i b i l i t y , through through  s p l i t , some  a c q u i r i n g l a n d or r i g h t s  There was always the  t o l a n d on the one hand, o r  g o i n g i n t o b u s i n e s s on the o t h e r , o f movements between the d i v i s i o n s .  Changes i n the l a n d tenure system d u r i n g B r i t i s h r u l e , which d r a s t i c a l l y altered  the system o f t r a d i t i o n a l shares and patronage as w e l l  land a v a i l a b l e  as making  f o r s a l e , p r o b a b l y hastened the d e c l i n e i n importance of the  d u a l d i v i s i o n as a m a n i f e s t s o c i a l o r p o l i t i c a l f e a t u r e .  The a l l i a n c e s and  c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s o u t l i n e d w i t h r e f e r e n c e t o the d u a l d i v i s i o n a r e n o n e t h e l e s s u s e f u l i n a d i s c u s s i o n o f the p o s i t i o n o f p o t t e r s i n South I n d i a n s o c i e t y , e s p e c i a l l y w i t h r e g a r d t o the a l l i a n c e between p o t t e r s and a g r i c u l t u r a l i s t s and i n the e m u l a t i o n of p a t t e r n s o f b e h a v i o u r . The e a r l y accounts  f u r t h e r s t r e n g t h e n the image generated  by the  i n s c r i p t i o n s t h a t p o t t e r s were an i n t e g r a l p a r t o f the v i l l a g e community. T h e i r a p p a r e n t l y u b i q u i t o u s raw m a t e r i a l , simple t o o l s , and humble demeanor a t t r a c t e d n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y i d e a l i s t s who saw I n d i a n v i l l a g e l i f e e x p r e s s i o n o f p r i m o r d i a l s o c i a l v a l u e s and o r g a n i z a t i o n .  as an  They were  d e s c r i b e d as among the "most r e s p e c t e d " members o f the community. In c o n t r a s t t o t h i s p o s i t i v e p o r t r a y a l , o t h e r e a r l y accounts  also  began t o e v a l u a t e p o t t e r s i n terms of c r i t e r i a b e i n g e s t a b l i s h e d by w e s t e r n - s t y l e e d u c a t i o n and o c c u p a t i o n , a c c o r d i n g t o which the p o t t e r s f a r e d badly.  The p e r c e i v e d " i g n o r a n c e " and " s t u p i d i t y " of p o t t e r s was perhaps  r e l a t i v e t o o t h e r low c a s t e s who, h a v i n g a much l e s s important r o l e t o p l a y i n the r u r a l s o c i a l systems o f the n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y embraced the emerging opportunities of education  o r m i l i t a r y and c i v i l  service.  I t i s possible  t h a t those t h a t " d e s p i s e d " the work o f the p o t t e r s were n o t the g e n e r a l p o p u l a t i o n , b u t the educated Brahman o f f i c i a l s and c i v i l  a u t h o r i t i e s who  p r o v i d e d e a r l y o b s e r v e r s w i t h much o f t h e i r i n f o r m a t i o n and a c t e d as i n t e r p r e t e r s , t r a n s l a t o r s and a s s i s t a n t s .  The r o l e o f p o t t e r s as important  l o c a l - l e v e l r e l i g i o u s s p e c i a l i s t s i n many p a r t s of South I n d i a has t r a d i t i o n a l l y p l a c e d them i n c o m p e t i t i o n and c o n f l i c t w i t h Brahmans. The condescension  o f Brahmans toward the l o c a l and r u r a l systems o f worship  has c o l o u r e d much of what has been r e c o r d e d about I n d i a n s o c i a l l i f e i n the n i n e t e e n t h and e a r l y t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r i e s . Moreover, p o t t e r s were a c t i v e l y  58. i n v o l v e d and  i n many p l a c e s were the d e s i g n a t e d  of p o s s e s s i o n ,  rituals  s a c r i f i c e , and a s c e t i c i s m which B r i t i s h a d m i n i s t r a t o r s ,  m i s s i o n a r i e s , and g a z e t t e e r s social  s p e c i a l i s t s i n the  found to be an a b h o r r e n t p a r t of South  Indian  life. That p o t t e r s are r e p o r t e d t o be b o t h " h i g h l y r e s p e c t e d "  i n e a r l y accounts i s p r o b a b l y  and  i n d i c a t i v e of s h i f t i n g c r i t e r i a of  "despised"  evaluation  of a v a r i e t y of p o i n t s of v i e w , as suggested above, y e t t h i s apparent c o n t r a d i c t i o n may  o r i g i n a t e deeper i n the work of p o t t e r s .  As we have seen,  t h e r e i s an u n d e r l y i n g ambivalence toward the c r a f t s m a n i n I n d i a n s o c i e t y which has  a l o n g h i s t o r y and,  i n the case of p o t t e r s , t h i s  becomes even more apparent i n more r e c e n t e t h n o g r a p h i c i s s u e i n my  (e)  own  tension  r e p o r t s and  a key  d a t a on a Tamil p o t t e r community.  Recent Accounts Published  i n f o r m a t i o n on p o t t e r s i n contemporary South I n d i a n s o c i e t y  i s extremely l i m i t e d .  The  p e r i o d of growth of i n t e n s i v e a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l  f i e l d s t u d i e s i n I n d i a , which began i n the l a t e 1940's (Dumont 1970 has  a:22)  i n c l u d e d d e t a i l e d e t h n o g r a p h i e s of s e v e r a l c a s t e s , but none has  p r e v i o u s l y focused c o n s i s t of a few Saraswati  1966,  on p o t t e r s .  Recent accounts of South I n d i a n  t e c h n i c a l n o t e s and a r t i c l e s  (Behura 1964,  Behura &  Dumont 1952), some r e s e a r c h papers (Shanmugam  S r i d a r a n 1979), and o b s e r v a t i o n s  in village society.  1970,  from g e n e r a l a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l s t u d i e s i n  which p o t t e r s are i n c l u d e d w i t h o t h e r c a s t e s i n the a n a l y s i s of patterns  potters  overall  A l l these sources have been c o n s u l t e d  the course of t h i s s t u d y , a l t h o u g h  in  p a r t i c u l a r a t t e n t i o n has been g i v e n  the work of Dumont (1957) and Beck (1972), whose p r e c i s e and d e t a i l e d observations  i n c l u d e , the most u s e f u l  information.  to  59. Most r e c e n t r e f e r e n c e s to South I n d i a n p o t t e r s f o c u s on p o s i t i o n i n caste society.  When c a s t e s are c o n s i d e r e d  their  from an  ethnographic  p e r s p e c t i v e , t h a t i s as l a r g e l y endogamous ranked groups w i t h i n the r e g i o n a l s u b - c u l t u r e of South I n d i a , p o t t e r s appear to be as ambiguously ranked as were c r a f t s m e n  g e n e r a l l y w i t h i n the t e x t u a l c l a s s i f i c a t i o n of Varna.  P o t t e r s have been d e s c r i b e d as a low " s e r v i n g " or " s e r v i c e " c a s t e ( S r i n i v a s 1967:6, Beck 1979:181), and have o f t e n been grouped w i t h washermen, b a r b e r s , u n t o u c h a b l e s and o t h e r low c a s t e " v i l l a g e s e r v a n t s " (Brubaker  1979).  some a r e a s , they p r e s i d e at f u n e r a l s and p e r f o r m r i t u a l t a s k s which i n o t h e r p l a c e s to u n t o u c h a b l e s ( I b i d . , 1979:139).  considered  belong  I n c o n t r a s t , they have  been d i f f e r e n t i a t e d from o t h e r v i l l a g e s e r v a n t s and d e s c r i b e d " r e s p e c t a b l e " ( P f a f f e n b e r g e r 1982:8).  In  Behura and S a r a s w a t i  as  found what they  a " c l e a r cut r a n k i n g " of p o t t e r s i n South I n d i a ; they were  below the A c a r i a r t i s a n s and above the washermen and b a r b e r s A s i m i l a r p o s i t i o n of p o t t e r s i n the c a s t e h i e r a r c h y was  (1966:176).  observed  by  H e i b e r t u s i n g as h i s i n d i c a t o r food and water t r a n s a c t i o n s (1971:56, 5 7 ) , by Den  Ouden u s i n g l i n g u i s t i c i n t e r a c t i o n (1979:40), and by Beck u s i n g  s e a t i n g p a t t e r n s a t a v i l l a g e f e a s t (1972:5).  Two  s t u d i e s done i n Tanjavur  D i s t r i c t ranked p o t t e r s as equal or s u p e r i o r to the A c a r i ( B e t e i l l e 1969:16, Gough 1969:17). One  i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the e n i g m a t i c  h i e r a r c h i e s and  s t a t u s of p o t t e r s i n l o c a l  t h e i r i n t e r a c t i o n w i t h c a s t e s b o t h h i g h and  low has been  t h a t t h e i r c r a f t i s " r i t u a l l y n e u t r a l " (Gough 1969:24) and does not  involve  the c o n f e r r a l or removal of r i t u a l i m p u r i t y ( S r i n i v a s 1967:22, M o f f a t t 1975:116).  The  h i s t o r i c a l and  t e x t u a l data which has been p r e s e n t e d  and  my own  f i e l d d a t a w h i c h f o l l o w s , i n d i c a t e t h a t p r e c i s e l y the o p p o s i t e i s  true.  Rather than b e i n g " r i t u a l l y n e u t r a l " , the c r a f t of the p o t t e r i s  60. r i t u a l l y charged and i s c o n t i n u a l l y a d d r e s s i n g the c e n t r a l i s s u e s and dilemmas o f p u r i t y and i m p u r i t y . make i t d i f f i c u l t  That i t does so i n such a way as t o  t o f i t p o t t e r s i n t o the " S h a s t r i c r a n k i n g  paradigm"  ( P f a f f e n b e r g e r 1982:8) s h o u l d be o f no s u r p r i s e , c o n s i d e r i n g the vague and p r o b l e m a t i c correspondence between schemes of c a s t e r a n k i n g and l o c a l South.Indian s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n s  generally.  The e x t e n t t o which r e c e n t r e f e r e n c e s t o p o t t e r s (and o t h e r groups) i n South I n d i a f o c u s almost e x c l u s i v e l y on r e l a t i v e rank i n a h i e r a r c h i c a l s o c i a l system r e v e a l s as much about a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l p r e o c c u p a t i o n s as i t does about those o f South I n d i a n s .  I n my i n v e s t i g a t i o n o f a p o t t e r  community, I have t a k e n note o f the c a u t i o n a d v i s e d by B e t e i l l e 1969), Pocock  (1965,  (1981), and many o t h e r s about the e x a g g e r a t e d " c a s t e -  c o n s c i o u s n e s s " o f a n t h r o p o l o g y and the e x t e n t t o which  "social  a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s a r e prone t o a c c e p t the i d e o l o g y o f c a s t e as a s o c i a l reality"  (Pocock 1981:334).  Rather than c o n c e n t r a t e on the " f i x e d " o r  "immutable" rank r e l a t i v e t o o t h e r groups i n a c a s t e system, I w i l l d e l i n e a t e the t e n s i o n s which I b e l i e v e a r e r e s p o n s i b l e f o r the ongoing dynamism of the c u l t u r a l r o l e of p o t t e r s i n South  India.  61. CHAPTER I I I  THE PANTIYA VELAR  This chapter  i n t r o d u c e s t h e s o c i a l c o n t e x t and o r g a n i z a t i o n of t h e  P a n t i y a V e l a r , the group of p o t t e r s who form the f o c u s of t h i s study.  From  t h i s p o i n t onward, r e f e r e n c e w i l l be made t o my f i e l d d a t a , c o l l e c t e d i n Tamil Natu.  Secondary sources  f o r t h i s data i n c l u d e d i s c u s s i o n s w i t h  s c h o l a r s , government o f f i c i a l s and p o t t e r s i n v a r i o u s p a r t s o f South I n d i a . The p r i m a r y  s o u r c e , however, was my i n t e r a c t i o n w i t h t h e V e l a r , and  p a r t i c u l a r l y those  (a)  l i v i n g i n the r e g i o n s u r r o u n d i n g  P o t t e r s o f Tamil  Natu  " K u l a l a n , son of the Hindu c r e a t o r god, be a l l o w e d l i k e him, a p o t t e r " (Thurston  the c i t y o f M a t u r a i .  Brahma, prayed t o Brahma t o  t o c r e a t e and d e s t r o y t h i n g s d a i l y , so Brahma made him 1909 V o l . IV:188).  Many Tamil p o t t e r s do c l a i m K u l a l a n  as an a n c e s t o r and t h e p o t t e r c a s t e h i s t o r y , a c o l l e c t i o n of m y t h o l o g i c a l t e x t s and commentaries i s known as the K u l a l a Purana. P o t t e r s of Tamil Natu S t a t e a r e today c l a s s i f i e d as Kulalar''' i n government and o t h e r o f f i c i a l documents.  P o t t e r s d e s c r i b e d themselves as  K u l a l a r on a p p l i c a t i o n forms, s c h o o l r e c o r d s and i n the p e r i o d i c a l s and announcements o f s t a t e - w i d e p o t t e r a s s o c i a t i o n s .  This formal t i t l e has,  from the e a r l y p a r t of the c e n t u r y , been promoted as "more d i g n i f i e d " than o t h e r terms ( T h u r s t o n  1909 V o l . IV:112).  Some p o t t e r s c o n s i d e r i t s  i n c r e a s e d use t o be an attempt by t h e i r people t o ' h i d e ' t h e i r i d e n t i t y and  A l l t i t l e s a r e g i v e n i n t h e i r r e s p e c t f u l / p l u r a l form (eg. K u l a l a r r a t h e r than the f a m i l i a r / s i n g u l a r K u l a l a n ) .  shed the d e r o g a t o r y a s s o c i a t i o n s of the more c o l l o q u i a l terms f o r p o t t e r s (Shanmugam 1970:1).  Indeed, most T a m i l s today would not know to which 2  group of c a s t e s K u l a l a r r e f e r s .  K u l a l a r has n o n e t h e l e s s been i n use i n  T a m i l Natu f o r c e n t u r i e s , a t l e a s t a t a l i t e r a r y l e v e l , as e v i d e n c e d by m e d i e v a l i n s c r i p t i o n s ( S r i d a r a n 1979:3) and has an a n c i e n t h i s t o r y as a term f o r p o t t e r i n the language from which i t d e r i v e s , S a n s k r i t (Roy 26, S i n g h 1969:307).  1969:  There a r e i n T a m i l Natu today about 200,000 people  who a r e c l a s s i f i e d as K u l a l a r , a l t h o u g h e x a c t p o p u l a t i o n f i g u r e s have been 3 d i f f i c u l t to a c q u i r e . The word commonly used by T a m i l s to r e f e r t o a p e r s o n of a p o t t e r c a s t e i s Kuyavar, a c o m b i n a t i o n of k u , the S a n s k r i t word s i g n i f y i n g (as  i n K u l a l a r ) and the p e r s o n a l t e r m i n a t i o n a v a r .  earth  Kuyavar i s u s u a l l y  pronounced Kucavar o r , i n a more c a s u a l form, Kocavar.  These a r e the  g e n e r a l terms by which p o t t e r s have most o f t e n been d e s c r i b e d by ethnographers ( e g . , B e t e i l l e 1969, Den Ouden 1979, Gough 1969). i n s c r i p t i o n s show Kuyavar t o be an a n c i e n t and once honourable p o t t e r s today d i s l i k e i t and a v o i d i t s use.  I was  3  title,  t o l d t h a t "200 y e a r s  ago, t h e r e was o n l y one t i t l e , Kosavan, but because of our poor 2  Although  condition,  . One c o u l d compare t h i s case w i t h examples of o t h e r South I n d i a n c a s t e groups who have adopted o f f i c i a l c a s t e t i t l e s as p a r t of an attempt t o l e a v e b e h i n d s t i g m a t i c a s s o c i a t i o n s , eg., "Shanar" t o "Nadar" (Hardgrave 1969) and " K a l l a r " t o "Tevar" (Dumont 1957).  E s t i m a t e s which I c o l l e c t e d of the t o t a l number of p o t t e r s i n the s t a t e v a r i e d from 120,000 (P.O. R a d h a k r i s h n a n - K h a d i and V i l l a g e I n d u s t r i e s Commission) t o 280,000 ( K o t e s h v a r a r a o - T a c e l C e r a m i c s , Government of T a m i l n a d u ) . K. D u r i r a j , a l s o of the K h a d i and V i l l a g e I n d u s t r i e s Commission e s t i m a t e d 200,000. The 1961 census l i s t s say t h a t t h e r e a r e 70,000 "working p o t t e r s and r e l a t e d c l a y f o r m e r s " (Nambiar, V o l . IX, 1964). As p o t t e r s c o n s t i t u t e l e s s than one p e r c e n t of the s t a t e p o p u l a t i o n they r a r e l y r e c e i v e s e p a r a t e n o t i c e i n government p u b l i c a t i o n s .  i t became d e s p i s e d , l i k e ' H a r i j a n ' " ( u n t o u c h a b l e ) . exaggeration  That t h i s i s no  i s i n d i c a t e d i n a r e p o r t by T h u r s t o n which s t a t e s t h a t i n one  e a r l y census r e p o r t , "Kusavan" were l i s t e d as a d i v i s i o n o f " P a r a i y a n " , an untouchable  c a s t e ( T h u r s t o n 1909 V o l . IV:188).  One can a p p r e c i a t e t h e  d e s i r e o f many p o t t e r s t o f o r g e a new i d e n t i t y , g i v e n e x p r e s s i o n s  widely  4 used i n Tamil Natu which r i d i c u l e the Kocavan.  The f o r m a l p o t t e r ' s  a s s o c i a t i o n s o f T a m i l Natu, l i k e those o f o t h e r c a s t e groups, a r e f a c e d w i t h the i r o n i c s i t u a t i o n o f promoting a b e t t e r image f o r t h e i r members and a t the same time t r y i n g t o r e t a i n the s t a t u s o f a 'backward c l a s s ' so t h a t they may c o n t i n u e t o r e c e i v e s p e c i a l b e n e f i t s from the government. P o t t e r s c o n t i n u a l l y p e t i t i o n e d the government so t h a t , f o r example, " K u l a l a (Kosava p o t t e r ) " was l i s t e d as one o f the 'backward c l a s s e s ' i n the Madras E d u c a t i o n a l R u l e s , 1950 ( S a r a s w a t i 1974:213).  This e n t i t l e s p o t t e r s  to quotas of j o b s i n government s e r v i c e and enhanced e d u c a t i o n a l opportunity. (b)  Potter  Castes  Although  p o t t e r s a r e known o f f i c i a l l y  and a t a s t a t e l e v e l as K u l a l a r  and p o p u l a r l y as K u c a v a r , i n t h e i r p a r t i c u l a r r e g i o n s and among people whom they i n t e r a c t f r e q u e n t l y , as w e l l as among themselves, c a s t e t i t l e s a r e o f t e n used.  with  more s p e c i f i c  These t i t l e s a r e used g e n e r a l l y t o r e f e r t o  the c a s t e and a l s o t o a man o f the c a s t e when s u f f i x e d t o h i s name, a l t h o u g h the l a t t e r p r a c t i c e i s d y i n g out w i t h the c u r r e n t g e n e r a t i o n .  The c a s t e  These i n c l u d e such admonishments as "you a r e d o i n g t h i n g s l i k e a p o t t e r " (Kocattanman k a r i y a m c e y a k i r u y e ) and " p o t t e r c h i l d " ( K o c a p p a i y a n ) , both to be d i r e c t e d toward one who i s a c t i n g i n e p t l y or l i k e a f o o l . These may be a c o n t i n u a t i o n of sentiments expressed t o e a r l y v i s i t o r s t o South I n d i a (p. 37-38) and p r o b a b l y r e f e r t o the p o t t e r s ' n o t o r i o u s l a c k of education.  64. t i t l e s o f p o t t e r s i n T a m i l Natu do n o t , as i n some o t h e r p a r t s o f I n d i a , r e f e r d i r e c t l y t o p e c u l i a r i t i e s o f p o t t i n g apparatus o r t e c h n i q u e  (Ghurye  1932:58), y e t most c a s t e s c a n be r e a d i l y d i s t i n g u i s h e d from one another by the type of p o t t e r ' s wheel o r o t h e r t o o l s they use, by language, b e l i e f , or p a t t e r n s of s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n . i n t h e o r y , an endogamousgroup.  Each c a s t e forms, a t l e a s t  The major p o t t e r c a s t e s o f T a m i l Natu can  be i d e n t i f i e d a c c o r d i n g t o t h e f o l l o w i n g In  religious  titles.  t h e northwest o f T a m i l Natu and i n t o K a r n a t a k a , s e v e r a l groups o f  p o t t e r s use t h e t i t l e U t a i y a r , s h o r t f o r Mannutaiyar the e a r t h ' (Beck 1972:72, B u r k h a r t 1976:36).  o r 'those who c l a i m  I n the northern p a r t of the  s t a t e and i n p o c k e t s t h r o u g h o u t , t h e t i t l e C e t t i y a r i s used, a common merchant t i t l e and one adopted by a v a r i e t y o f Tamil c a s t e s .  Many C e t t i y a r  p o t t e r s i n t h e s o u t h e r n r e g i o n o f T a m i l Natu a r e r e l a t i v e l y r e c e n t m i g r a n t s . Few have t r a d i t i o n a l r i g h t s i n l a n d o r produce and most s e l l t h e i r wares for  cash.  A c c o r d i n g t o Behura and S a r a s w a t i (1966:178),  Telegu-speaking  p o t t e r s i n Southern T a m i l Natu use the t i t l e C h e t t i y a r and a l s o "Kwevar" (Kuyavar?) and "Kaura".  Some p o t t e r s , e s p e c i a l l y those l i v i n g i n t h e c i t i e s ,  have f o r s t a t u s reasons perhaps, adopted  the t i t l e P i l l a i or V e l l a l a ,  commonly a s s o c i a t e d w i t h t h e t r a d i t i o n a l l y h i g h - r a n k i n g f a r m i n g c a s t e s . Caste t i t l e s used by p o t t e r s i n T a m i l Natu and r e l a t e d t o d e v o t i o n and w o r s h i p a r e P a k t a r (bakhta - d e v o t i o n ) and Nayanar ( d e n o t i n g t h e t h i r t e e n Tamil S a i v i t e s a i n t s ) .  An a d d i t i o n a l t i t l e used i n n o r t h e r n T a m i l Natu i s  "Ocean" ( M o f f a t t 1975:116). Beyond t h a t p e r i o d i c a l l y promoted by s t a t e - w i d e p o t t e r a s s o c i a t i o n s and by government a g e n c i e s , t h e r e i s l i t t l e various potter castes. communities  i n t e r a c t i o n o f any k i n d among  I n t h e c i t y o f M a t u r a i , f o r example, t h e r e a r e  o f p o t t e r s from two c a s t e s , one community l i v i n g on t h e w e s t e r n  65. s i d e and a n o t h e r on the e a s t , s e p a r a t e d  by no more than two m i l e s . * They  have v i r t u a l l y no c o n t a c t and know v e r y l i t t l e o f one a n o t h e r . d i f f e r e n t languages (Tamil and T e l e g u ) , use d i f f e r e n t p o t t i n g and have d i f f e r e n t systems of community o r g a n i z a t i o n . c l a i m t o have had a l o n g and important  They speak technology,  Both communities  r e l a t i o n s h i p t o t h e g r e a t c i t y of  Maturai.  (c)  The V e l a r Many p o t t e r s of c e n t r a l and s o u t h e r n Tamil Natu c a l l  themselves V e l a r  A number of o r i g i n s f o r t h i s t i t l e have been proposed and o n l y a few of the most p l a u s i b l e from the p o i n t of view of the V e l a r themselves a r e p r e s e n t e d here.  Shanmugam suggests t h a t v e l r e f e r s t o e a r t h and t h a t V e l a r  means "those o f the e a r t h " (1970:2). i s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the legendary It  V e l can a l s o r e f e r t o a p e t t y k i n g and  n i n e c h i e f s subdued by the f i r s t  i s a l s o l i n k e d t o the e i g h t e e n V e l i r , f o l l o w e r s of the Tamil  Agastiya  ( A k a t t i y a r ) who i s c r e d i t e d w i t h f o u n d i n g  whom p o t t e r s c l a i m as an a n c e s t o r .  simply  the Tamil  Cola k i n g .  saint  language and  Indigenous c h i e f s o r minor k i n g s of the  I l a n k o l i n e a g e who r u l e d i n the K a v e r i R i v e r b a s i n were known as " I l a n k o V e l ( S r i n i v a s a A i y a n g a r 1914:86, S t e i n 1980:114) and p o t t e r s throughout Natu make r e f e r e n c e  t o I l a n k o as an i m p o r t a n t  V e l a r became a p o p u l a r  Tamil  ancestral line.  t i t l e d u r i n g the m e d i e v a l C o l a p e r i o d and  was used as a synonym f o r V e l a l a , a g e n e r a l  landowning c a s t e t i t l e .  "Muventa V e l a r , the V e l l a l a s ( V e l a r ) of the t