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Heritage And Culture In A Creative Economy: The Viswakarma Craftsmanship In Kerala, India

Abstract

Creativity is the civilizational foundations of human society. It is the creative people who flourished civilizations everywhere in the world. The crafts people articulate the magnificence of their artistry for creative livelihoods and comfortable living for the society as a whole and people at large. The craftsmen inculcate the culture of creativity for disseminating their accumulated knowledge for the benefit of the community, society and economy.

Viswakarmas are the traditional craftspeople of India. They are really the entrepreneurial class, which comprises the five occupational categories of blacksmiths, carpenters, sculptors, coppersmiths and goldsmiths. They articulate the material culture for promoting wealth creation in a creative economy. In the distant past, Viswakarmas were leading a prominent living among the society with the springboard of their creative skills.

The traditional craftsmanship of the Viswakarma community is the magnificent manifestations of their creative skills, which have been acquired through hereditary transactions from generations to generations since distant past. The Viswakarmas are the descendants of the artisanal community of Harappa and Mohenjodaro, where the earliest human civilizations flourished with highly developed human settlement fluorescence.

The Viswakarma community inculcates culture of creativity, which necessarily forms the civilizational foundations of human society. It is the creative people, who make the history on the move. Everywhere in the world the builders and makers illuminate creative orientations among manufacturing class. The crafts people articulate the artistry of enjoyable and comfortable living for the society as a whole and people at large. Viswakarmas are the traditional creative class, whose enterprising artistry has been par excellence. The cultural economy of the Indian state of Kerala has been enriched by the artistic marvels of the Viswakarma craftsmanship in promoting material culture among their social livings.

The present study traces the role of intangible cultural heritage of the traditional craftsmanship of the hereditary artisans of Viswakarma community in enriching their creative livelihoods in the Indian state of Kerala by proposing shared values in economic, social and environmental ecosystems for the development of a creative economy. It is the descriptive analysis of the occupational specialization of artistry and craftsmanship of the Viswakarma community. The study is based on the methodological framework of participatory learning through which we meet and interact with Viswakarma artisans for drawing underlining propositions of the creative craftsmanship.

JEL Code.Z1, Z11

Human ingenuity and creativity are the primary resources that drives the creative economy ..”, Creative Economy Report, 2013

  1.  Introduction

Creativity[1] is the civilizational foundations of human society. It is the creative people[2] that make the history on the move. Everywhere in the world the builders and makers form the community of creative manufactures[3]. The crafts people[4]articulate the magnificence of their artistry for comfortable living for the society as a whole and people at large. The craftsmen inculcate the culture of creativity for disseminating their accumulated knowledge for the benefit of the community and  share values of their artistry among themselves and entail a cultural living for the fellow beings.

Viswakarmas[5] are the traditional craftspeople of India. They are really the entrepreneurial class, which comprises the five occupational categories of blacksmiths, carpenters, sculptors, coppersmiths and goldsmiths, who manufacture things for the development of the economy and society[6]. They are the forebearers of the manufacturing economy, which increases economic growth for sustaining development by generating wealth that promotes welfare of the people and nation. They were the knowledge and science people, who articulated the material culture[7] for promoting wealth creation in a creative economy[8]. In the distant past, Viswakarmas were leading a prominent living among the society with the springboard of their creative skills[9].  The smithy, carpentry and stone carvings were highly developed creative occupations in the Harappan and Indus-Saraswati civilizations. Archaeological evidences testify that during 1900 BCE India became the biggest maritime ship building nation in the world[10]. The Harrappan artisans were found producing gold and silver jewelleries, and were well proficient in metal castings for making bronze, brass and copper figurines[11]. The Harappan civilization was, in fact, an artisanal civilization, which had a highly developed urbanization system with well built houses having wells and bathrooms as well as an elaborate underground drainage system[12]. The artisanal economy of Harappa was the earliest system of market economy with monetary transactions, where exchange of commodities took place by the medium of money[13]. There is evidence of contact between the Indus Valley Civilization and the Near East[14]. Their commercial, religious and artistic relations have been recorded in Sumerian documents where the Indus valley people are referred to as Meluhhaites and the Indus Valley is called Meluhha.[15]

The traditional craftsmanship of the Viswakarma community is the magnificent manifestations of their creative skills[16], which have been acquired through hereditary transactions from generations to generations since distant past[17]. The Viswakarmas are the descendants of the artisanal community of Harappa and Mohenjodaro, where the earliest human civilizations flourished with highly developed human settlement fluorescence[18]. The Viswakarma craftsmanship is an intangible cultural heritage[19] passing from generation to generation since human days.

The traditional artisans in the Indian state of Kerala called Viswakarmas form a prominent Hindu sect, whose socio-economic credentials have not been duly acknowledged by the political class among ruling elite in India after Independence[20]. The Viswakarmas in India are necessarily the indigenous builders and makers, whose engineering marvels and technological expertise par excellence transcends the scientific realms of modern scholarship[21]. The creative skills and scientific knowledge of the Viswakarmas were pivotal in creating the world’s earliest of all human civilizations viz; Indus-Saraswati Civilization, the human settlements of which were comparable to modern habitat in the contemporary world[22].

The Viswakarma community inculcates culture of creativity[23], which necessarily forms the civilizational foundations of human society[24]. It is the creative people, who make the history on the move[25]. Everywhere in the world the builders and makers infuse creative orientations among manufacturing class[26]. The crafts people articulate the artistry of enjoyable and comfortable living for the society as a whole and people at large[27].

The Viswakarmas were not attached to any caste hierarchy, and were having a social placement beyond the realm of varna system[28] of caste stratification, but were a class of creative workers, who produced things for human consumption and social utilization. They are not belonging to any caste of Indian socially exclusive hierarchical pyramid.

The creative craft people collectively referred to as Viswakarmas at present form a unique artisanal collective cutting across caste divisions, the social identity of whom is drawn from their community, rather than from their caste formulations. Viswakarmas are not termed as caste and are not belonging to any caste category, but to kula (clan or community). Majority of the medieval inscriptions revealed that Viswakarmas belonged to Viswakarma kula or Viswakarma kulaja or Kammalar kula or Kammalar kulaja without detailing their caste affiliations[29]. Viswakarmas are thus a unique example of five disparate occupational groups coming together in a collective identity of community that transcended the caste groups to form a larger community of craft persons[30].

The Viswakarma economic system is about the system of market orientation with an exchange proposition, where they produce materials for an exchange economy[31]. The Viswakarma system of production has been developed for a well framed format of market economy[32]. The artisanal Viswakarmas are not subservient to any evolved caste categorization in the Indian social system[33]. The Viswakarmas are the entrepreneurial class, rather than occupational castes[34]. The Viswakarma ideology is the ideology of entrepreneurial capitalism, where workers and owners are in sync with the process of production and distribution. The Viswakarma economy is the economy of equality as the owners and workers are one and the same persons. The societal framework of Viswakarma conclave is of social equality[35] and economic inclusiveness[36]. As such the unique system of Viswakarma productive economy does away with the socio – economic inequality in the society. The Viswakarma system presupposes equality among the society. It entails the model of inclusive economy orienting towards inculcating material culture among the community as whole[37].

Viswakarmas are the traditional entrepreneurial class, whose creative artistry have been par excellence[38]. The cultural economy[39] of the Indian state of Kerala has been enriched by the artistic marvels of the Viswakarma craftsmanship in promoting material culture among societal livings[40] .

The Viswakarma community consists of five sub-sects namely, the ironsmiths, carpenters, coppersmiths or the bell metal smiths, the stone masons and goldsmiths, whose professions are not necessarily complementary, but are of independent entities[41]. The Viswakarmas are the hereditary craftsmen, whose engineering marvels are beyond comparison to the modern scientific workmanship[42]. Examples are not hard to identify: The hereditary craftsmen, belonging to Moosari community of bell metal workers in Kerala produce the traditional products such as water container with nozzle called kindi, the shallow cooking vessel called uruli, the spittoons or charcoal iron box to press clothes among other products such as oil lamps, metal plates, bells, and idols of gods and goddesses for installations in temples for worship; the traditional craftsmen who produce the famous metal mirror called AranmulaKannadi in Aranmula  in Kerala; the goldsmiths who produce the famous holy ring called Payyannur Pavithra Mothiram in Payyannur in Kerala; and the Dhokra craftsmen belong to Woj community, called Wojaris (also called Otaris) in Adilabad in Telangana State produce the bell metal casting products, which include the idols of deities, bells, dancing figures, jewellery, statues and other decorative items among others. They also make figures of animals and birds, santhal jewels such as twinkly saltation bells, and measuring chitties.

Viswakaramas are not among the caste category of post-Vedic brahminical Hindu fold of brahmanas, kshatrias, vaishyas and shudras, the system of which was a later creation of brahminical ascendency of inegalitarian social texture of human exploitations[43]. They are not the part of varna[44] system of caste categorisation. Viswakarmas are the unique social grouping of the occupational class .There is no point of reference for them in the indigenous sociological theory of varna categories[45]. It was brahminical hegemony that destroyed the ancient system of egalitarian order which prevailed in Bharatvarsha in the Pre- Vedic Ages, during which the Viswakarmas were placed among higher occupational ladders[46]. Caste stratification was a later Vedic brahminical construct, which became a sheer system of social oppression and human exploitations. During the Pre-Vedic Ages, the societal stratification was far more scientific and socially desirable, where people were recognized on the basis of skill, intelligence, knowledge and creativity. The ingenuity of beings is the very basis of the social texture of Viswakarmas, who hardly form traditional caste group, but a conglomeration of working populace of classified jobs such as black smithy, carpentry, bronzsmithy and goldsmithy.

The professional expediency and the hereditary craftsmanship, which underlines the theory and practice of indigenous technology of the Viswakarma community have not been recognized by the political class and ruling elites in the country in the contemporary era of Indian Independence[47]. The work exerted by each Viswakarma segment is skill oriented, and they earn their expertise by household training in a hereditary lineage from early childhood[48]. Their skills are far more superior by any standard of verifications by modern scientific community[49]. But in a contemporary degenerating society of occupational dispensations in the country, the Viswakarma community has been losing their social identities and the hereditary workmanship in a so-called modernizing societies of socializations of community based occupations of arts and crafts and the community driven job prosperity has been dwindling in the disfavouring political climate of the Indian society. In fact, the Viswakarma community is in the political wilderness and in the brink of professional extinction[50].

The artistry and the artefacts of the Viswakarma community are the cultural heritage[51] , which necessarily plays a key role in the development of their livelihoods. Cultural heritage is often expressed as either intangible or tangible cultural heritage[52]. Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artefacts and intangible attributes of a community that is inherited from the past. Traditional craftsmanship is necessarily the most tangible manifestation of intangible cultural heritage, which has been endowed with the traditional artisans in Kerala since distance past.

The traditional source of livelihoods of the various groups of Viswakarma community are ironworks for the blacksmiths/ironsmiths, wood works and furniture build for the carpenters, metal works for the bronzsmiths/coppersmiths, and gold and jewellery works for the goldsmiths. The sculptors are not having any community tag in Kerala and are hailing from different communities including Viswakarmas. In most cases sculptors are hailing from thattans, (goldsmiths) kollans (ironsmiths), asaris (carpenters) and moosaris (bronzsmiths/coppersmiths). 

  1. Objective of Study

The study aims at examining the cultural heritage of Viswakarma craftsmanship and their economic achievements for creative livelihoods of the hereditary craft community, the Viswakarmas, of India. We study about the Viswakarma artisans in the state of Kerala. It also analyses the role of intangible cultural heritage[53] of the traditional craftsmanship of the hereditary artisans of Viswakarma community in sustaining livelihoods in the Indian state of Kerala in developing a creative economy by creating shared values in economic, social and environmental ecosystems for the community. It further examines the historical importance and contemporary relevance of the underlining need for making the traditional artistry and artefacts of the Viswakarma community in Kerala in fostering creative industries in a sustainable development perspective[54]. It unravels the underscoring opportunities for generating jobs in creative sectors, wherein the Viswakarma community plays a significant role by revealing the eternal truth that the Viswakarmas are the people of makers and thinkers, the homo sapiens and homo fabians in the era of modernizing societies. The study scripts how reinventing creative economy for sustainable development is underway in the Indian state of Kerala with the case analyses of the Viswakarma Heritage village of bronzsmiths/coppersmiths at Kunhimangalam, which produce brass/copper/bronze wares household utensils and temple products; and of a goldsmith family in Payyanur manufacturing divine finger rings (both in Kannur District); a goldsmith lineage at Aranmula in Pathanamthitta district producing the world famous Metal Mirror of Aranmula (Aranmulakannadi in vernacular language); the Carpentry family producing the Divine Bow (Onavillu in Malayalam language) at Karamana in Trivandrum district, the traditional wood carving crafts of Pruvanam village in Thrissur district, the lone Viswakarma craftsman, who produce metal mirror with alternative mode at Adakkaputhur in Palakkad district and the metal smithy in Mannar village in Alapuzha district producing brass vessels and utensils for household consumption.

  1. Methodology and Data

The study proposes the case analyses of eight hereditary Viswakarma artistries, viz; Viswakarma heritage village in Kunhimangalam in Kanuur district, Aranmamula metal mirror craftsmen’s conglomerates, and the Palliyodam crafts people at Aranamula in Pathanamthitta district, Mannar Bronzsmithy in Alapuzha district and the goldsmith family which produces the Divine Rings at Payyanur in Kannur district, and Onavillu producing family in Karaman in Trivandrum district, the metal mirror crafts by the lone crafts man Mr. Krishnakumar at Adakaputhur in Palakkas district and the traditional woodcrafts people in Peruvanam in Thrissur district.

The methodology adopted in the studies is Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA)[55], wherein we interact with the craftspeople, who consist of master craftsmen and the assistants. The studies are based on both primary data and secondary data. We also depend on oral history for collecting information. We consult with the people of knowledge and expertise, scholars with competent authority, and Viswakarma artisans for collecting information. Secondary data are harnessed from primary texts and other books and publications available at various libraries and research institutions. We also extracted information from internet sources to arrive at conclusions. It is an empirical study on Viswakarma craftsmanship in Kerala, India in a sustainable livelihoods perspective.

  1. The Viswakarma Craftsmanship– An Economy of Cultural Creativity

The traditional craftsmanship of creative artistry forms the cultural heritage of the Viswakarma community in India. Traditional Craftsmanship is the most tangible manifestation of intangible cultural heritage[56]. Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of society inherited from past generations (Willis, 2014) and it is usually taken to mean the sites, movable and immovable artifacts, practices, knowledge items, and other things (Brumann, 2015). The hereditary craftsmanship of creative artistry within the societal framework of social coherence is the magnificent cultural heritage of the Viswakarma community in Kerala. The Viswakarma tradition of indigenous craftsmanship displays the social schemata of creative livelihoods in a cultural economy.

Though scholarly studies on Indian economy, both in historical and contemporary perspectives, are not hard to identify (Roy, 2002; 2013; Tomlinson, 2013; Ruthermund, 1988; Morris, 1963; Basu, 2018) the artistic and cultural economy of India has not been subjected to scholarly attention with focuses on Viswakarma artistry for developing the creative economy of India. The Viswakarma artistry in medieval peninsular India was pictured by Ramaswamy (2004) and Jan Brouwer (1995) studies on Viswakarmas in the South Indian state of Karnataka. Though studies on artisans were produced by academics, they were all about weavers, pottery makers and handicraftsmen and fine artists, and hardly any studies focused on Viswakarma artistry as means of artisanal livelihoods.

Although historical mapping of Indian peasantry has been made by historians, social mapping of caste and religious segmentations of the Indian society has been attested by anthropologists and sociologists, and weaving and fisheries communities were overviewed by social scientists, scholarly attentions were hardly paid by the Indian academia to the work domain of the cultural creativity of crafts people of the Viswakarma community of India. The Viswakarma craftsmanship forms the virgin terrain for social research in scholarly disciplines.

Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya (1980)[57] wrote history of crafts and craftsmen. Jamila Brijbhushan (1961)[58] recorded the work of metal smiths in her monograph “Indian Metalware” and Jaya Jaitley (2001) [59]accounted the livings of the craftspeople in her work “Children of Viswakarma”.

The artisanal sociography of Viswakarma craftsmen has been rarely placed in academic scholarships in economics and social sciences disciplines with very few exceptions such as Ananda Coomaraswamy (1909), Vijaya Ramaswamy, (2004; 2019), Smritikumar Sarkar (1999); Jan Brouwer (1995; 2000) and Stella Kramrisch (1958).

Viswakarmas are the craftspeople of India[60]. They are necessarily the entrepreneurial class, who seemed to be the progenitor of the material culture of the Indian society. They were apparently at the highest ladder of the social order (Viswakarmapuranam). Viswakaramas were invariably the indigenous knowledge workers[61] who form the manufacturing class for entailing economic growth in the creative economy of India. They were the science people of India[62]. They were the people who acquired the creative skills through hereditary means of generational dispensations of socio-engineering in artistry and craftsmanship and architectural engineering in temple construct and built environment as well as in building cities and settlements for human habitat with sophistications of high esteem. They built the civilizational foundations of Indian culture of ethics and morals of a non-violent economy[63]. Viswakarmas hardly attached to any form of social caste, but invariably form the economic class of producers of things provided for the material requirements of the humans. They laid the foundation for material culture for social welfare unlike the post– vedic system of brahminical orthodoxy of discriminatory socio-economic human relations [64]. The Viswakarma economy of creativity thus forms the foundation for material culture, (which necessarily establishes the relationship between the artifacts and social cohesion), that aims at creating  sustainable livelihoods for the Viswakarma artisans.

Before the assumption of caste pattern in its uncompromising rigidity, the Indian society was traditionally classified into varnas based on occupational divisions of labour. The social system of caste based on rigidity, immobility and divisibility was a later brahminical construct, which is still continuing as a system of human discrimination within the hierarchical pattern of social oppression and exploitation.

The culture of creativity is the hallmark of the Viswakarma craftsmanship, the civilizational foundations of which material culture was moulded in the furnaces and crucibles by the artisanal communities in Harappa and Mohenjodaro in the distant past[65]. Market economy originated/prevailed in Harappa and Mohenjodaro, where the artisanal community who are now called Viswakarmas, produced things for promoting material welfare of the mankind with their profound creative skills[66]. It was necessarily the artisanal creative enterprises economic system that rooted in the creative spirit of the Viswakarma artistry flourished in Harappa and Mohenjodaro some 5000 years back[67].

Viswakarmas are the pioneers in smithy, carpentry and sculpturing. They form a compact social class, which comprises five categories of occupational groupings. The Viswakarma economy of creativity is necessarily evolved in the cultural magnet of material welfare. They provide for material requirements the utensils (braziers), furniture (carpenters), tools and implements for agriculturists and manufacturers (blacksmiths), idols and figurines for spiritual consummation (sculptures) and ornaments and jewelleries for social enjoyment (goldsmiths) for the society as a whole and people at large.  Since the produce of the Viswakarmas are for the requirements of the people, they used to exchange things they produce. Monetary transactions are the elements of the economic mechanism of a market economy[68]. The Viswakarmas produce, build and exchange within the monetary economy framework. Viswakarma activities are market oriented activities as they are producers of things for human requirements. The artistic marvels of the Viswakarma craftsmanship are now manifested in many spatial of human settlements[69].

  1. The Case Analyses

The Viswakarma craftsmanship embodies the artistic magnificence of creative intelligence of an unparalleled occupation of nobility of an artisanal community in the entire world[70]. The creative marvels and the technological fluorescence of ancient science textured in the indigenous craftsmanship of the Viswakarmas is their age old cultural heritage[71]. The Viswakarma artisans of Kerala comprise ironsmiths (Kollan), carpenters (aasari), braziers/coppersmiths (Moosari), and goldsmiths (Thattan)[72]. The sculpturing, stone carvings and idol makings are usually done by anyone who belongs to any fold of the Viswakarma community in the state. This study mainly focuses on the unique creative characteristics of the workmanship of the metal smiths and carpentry, viz; bronziers, ironsmiths and goldsmiths, and wood crafts people. We identify the select master crafts people/craftsmen among coppersmiths (bell metal smiths), ironsmiths, wood carving artisans and goldsmiths and wood workers/carpenters and metal mirror workers.

For the case analysis of the present study, we identify the traditional bell metal craftsmen of the moosari community of the Viswakarma folks at Kunhimangalam village near Payyannur in Kannur district, the bell metal craftsmen at Mannar village in Alappuzha district, the metal mirror craftsmen in Aranmula in Patahanamthitta district and the lone craftsman of producing metal mirror in Adakaputhur in Palakkad district, the Palliyodam (Snake Boat) builders at Aranmula in Pathanamthitta district, the Divine Gold Ring producers in Payyannur in Kannur district, the Divine Bow producing family of Vilayilveedu in Karamana in Thiruvananthapuram district, the magnificent wood carving artisans of Kizhakoottu family in Pruvanam in Thrissur district in Kerala for field work.

The bell–metal produces of  Kunhimangalam,(Kannur), Mannar (Alappuzha) villages in Kerala, metal mirror of Aranamula in Pathanamthitta district and of Adakaputhur in Palakkad district, the Pavithramothiram (Divine Gold Rings) of a hereditary family of goldsmiths at Payyannur (Kerala) and the Onavillu (Divine Bow) produced and submitted to Sripadmanabha temple in Trivandrum, the capital city of the state of Kerala by the artisans of the hereditary family called Vilayilveedu family of Karamana, Trivandrum (Kerala) and the magnificent wood artistry engraved by the hereditarily gifted family artisans of the Kizhakkootu family belonged to the Peruvanam village near Cherpu in Thrissur district are all the well established marvellous creations of Viswakarma artisans in the state of Kerala.

Metals play a prominent role in human existence[73]. The civilizational cultures of mankind have a profound history of experimentation and explorations using alloys such as brass and bronze, and precious metals like gold and silver, and more recently iron and steel are the parts and parcel of human cultures all the world over [74]. We find innumerable objects from different metals ranging from tiny coins to palatial buildings to vessels and lamps to ornaments and jewels.

Apart from gold and silver, the metals used for craft work include brass, copper and bell–metal. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, bell metal is a mixture of copper and tin. Metallic/metallurgical process of making objects by Viswakarma artisans is painstaking and delicate task. [75]

Metal casting is a time tested process. The earliest casting technique which prevailed in ancient India was lost wax process[76] also called cire perdue (cire means wax and perdue means lost). It was practiced in India during the civilizational era of Harappa and Mohenjodaro more than 5000 years back. [77]. It was reinvented in 1940s by the scientists in the west and is now known as investment casting[78].

Ancient Sanskrit texts such as Shilpashastra, Yantrasarvasva, Shilparatan and Manasara mention about metal casting. Earliest evidence of castings was found in the Indus excavations such as dancing girl, cast ornaments, figurines and items of copper, gold and lead as well as kilns for smelting copper ingots and casting tools. Kautilya’s Arthasastra (500 BC) mentions about state owned mints and jewellery units. Nagarjuna in Rasaratnakar (50 BC) wrote about the distillation of zinc and its casting. The Nataraja and Vishnu statues of Chola dynasty (900-1200 AD) (50 BC) are the good testimonies of medieval Indian metal casts. Generally, the metal components of these consisted of Pancha Dhatu –an alloy of copper, zinc, tin (or lead), gold and silver using the Madhuchista Vidhana or lost wax process[79].

Metal crafts have been prevailing in India since ancient times. The beautiful figurine of a dancing girl unearthed from the Indus site of the ancient civilization of India clearly revealed that the artisans people in Harappa and Mohenjodaro were well excelled in metal crafts since distant past. In the contemporary history of the Indian craftsmanship, different styles of metal crafting came into prominence. The Koftgari artistry of Rajasthan, artistry of silver samovars in Kashmir, sculptural artistry of Uttar Pradesh, ornate metal box artistry of Bundelkhand , Dokhra metal artistry in tribal belts of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Odissa and Madhya Pradesh  are still adorning the cultural ornamentations in India. The bell–metal produces of  Kunhimangalam,(Kannur), Mannar (Alappuzha), metal mirror of Aranamula in Pathanamthitta district and of Adakaputhur in Palakkad district in  the state of Kerala, the Pavithramothiram(Divine Gold Rings) of a hereditary family of goldsmiths at Payyannur (Kerala) and the Onavillu (Divine Bow) produced and submitted to Sripadmanabha temple in Trivandrum, the capital city of the state of Kerala by the artisans of the hereditary family called Vilayilveedu family of Karamana, Trivandrum (Kerala) and the magnificent wood artistry engraved by the hereditarily gifted family artisans of the Kizhakkootu family belonged to the Peruvanam village near Cherpu in Thrissur district are all the well established marvellous creations of Viswakarma artisans in the state of Kerala.

Case 1:  The Bell Metal Crafts in Kunhimangalam

The state of Kerala , which is popularly known as ‘God’s Own Country’ in the lexicon of global tourism, is the finest place, where we could find  one of the oldest artistry of bell metal (brass) casting, an exemplary example of creative craftsmanship, traditional artisans called Viswakarma community. The moosari artisanal sect of the Viswakarma community are the traditional bell-metal workers producing a variety of products such as lamps, vessels , cauldrons, bells ,household utensils, temple figurines and the like.

Bell-metal casting is a delicate task. For producing bell metal craft products, the moosari craftsmen make use of a good number of raw materials. The tools with which they activate the casting process include: Chisels for designing and shaping the object; hammer for hitting the chisel; furnace for melting the metal; a container called crucible made out of clay graphite to melt the metal in it; brass metal; clay; water; gas propane and torch for igniting the fire; motor for blowing air to obtain fire flames; buffing machine for cleaning the casted article; wooden round stick for hallow casting; bamboo tools; spatula, knife, and scraper; brush for cleaning the object; iron rods soldering tool; iron wires to hold the moulds; rings to cap the furnace; sack for binding the object; nitric acid for cleaning the metal articles and emery paper for refining the metal article. The raw materials used for the casting purposes include refined sand for moulding purpose; bee wax for making the model for the object; charcoal to produce more heat; furnace tongs for lifting, holding and balancing the crucible; brass metal for using in the object; clay as binding component in moulding; water and tamarind pulp as cleaning soap for cleaning the object.

The process of metal casting begins with the making of clay, cow dung and casted oil and broken mould. These are mixed into a dough form and a mould of required design is made around achukol and is kept in sunlight for drying. Then the wax is applied up on the whole moulds. After drying it another layer of the mould is made with the mixture of clay, finely cut jute sack pieces. This is kept for four days in sunlight. After this, the final coating is applied again with clay and kept for four days for drying. This process completes the process of moulding. The dried mould is covered with tiles by forming a furnace. Then raw metals or alloys are filled in crucibles for melting. As the crucibles are heated for four to five hours so as to melt the alloy, while metal alloys melt, the wax is also melted out from the mould simultaneously in another furnace. After melting the wax the mould is carefully places in a pit and the mould is covered in mud so as to avoid the breakage while pouring molten alloy. The molten alloy is poured through the inlet holes provided on the mould and is kept for six hours to solidify the alloy. After solidifying the alloy in the mould it is taken out from the ground and the clay cover is broken with hammers. The broken pieces of baked clay can be recycled for making the next set of clay. Now we get the unfinished final product. Then the product is taken for finishing works by grinding, smoothening and polishing and buffing with blades, polishing soaps and shinier means. Finally the product is polished with liquid metal polish. The product is now ready to supply.

Kunhimangalam village in Kannur District of Kerala is the place where a good number of families of copper smith (brazier) sects of Viswakarma community called moosaries. The residential area of the moosary community is called moosarikovval means the area of bell metal community. They are the hereditary crafts people, who are traditionally engaging in producing metal wares of different forms, sizes for households, temples and commercial establishments. They produce the traditional household utensils such as water container with nozzle called kindi, the shallow cooking vessel called uruli, spittoons or charcoal iron boxes for pressing clothes, oil lamps, metal plates, bells, besides decorative items. Their main produces also include idols of gods and goddesses, figurines for installations in temples for worships.

They produce the bell metal products by casting raw metals in desired designs for the required objects at the workshop specially built near to their houses called kottil. All the traditional tools and implements and built in furnaces (ula) on earth are set up at the work areas. Bell metal casting is a delicate task. All the family members work together for successful completion of casting processes. The casting of a given product is a long run process depending up on the size, style and strength of the product.

The moosary community in Kunhimangalam village, where they build the bell–metal crafts conclave by which they are being transformed into an entrepreneurial community, a business class of manufacturing metal crafts, they enjoy the high degree of economic specialisation, which enable them to attain upward social mobility in the social spectrum of the creative economy made up of the indigenous community of crafting. The Viswakarma craftsmanship provides the hereditary craft people with indigenous skills the sustainable livelihoods, rather creative livelihoods for material well being. (Field Study 1)

Case 2:  Aranmula Metal Mirror: A Marvellous Creation of Viswakarma Artistry

The exquisite Aranmula Metal Mirror or AranmulaKannadi is a very special type of metal mirror produced only in Aranmula, a small village in Pathanamthitta district in the state of Kerala, India. Aranmula metal mirror is a precious inherited gift. The history of its production is its unique metal alloy of silver, bronze, copper and tin, the technique of which has been gifted over through generations. Indeed, the ancient art of making metal mirrors is still practiced, without any changes, by a few family-based artisans, one, being Thikkanampallil family. The manufacture of Aranmulakannadi has been zealously guarded secret of a handful of these surviving artisans.

A huge amount of determination, perseverance and patience goes into the making of this enchanting mirror. Mud from the local paddy field is used for the mould into which the molten alloy mix is poured to cast the mirror and the technique followed is the cire –perdue or the lost wax method of casting. Even with the utmost care, only 60% of the cast metal mirrors can be salvaged, the rest get damaged in the process of manufacture.

The metal mirror is then polished using well-ground, burnt clay powder mixed with special oil on a jute cloth. To achieve a highly reflective surface, polishing can go on from one to several days. When a satisfactory finish is achieved, the mirror is mounted on various models of artistic brass frames. Mirror is made of Bronze, an alloy of tin and copper, and frame is made of Brass, an alloy of zinc and copper. (Field Study 2).

Case 3:  The Metal Mirror Craft: The Alternative Technique. The Adakkaputhur Artistry

MP Krishnakumar, Kumara Nilayam, Adakaputhur in Palakkad district has been innovating the metal crafts technique for mirror making for the last four years along with his father on the lines of Aranmula metal mirror producing process by trial and error. He explained the enduring works and studies for producing a perfect substitute for Aranmula metal mirror. In 1975 they invented the alternative method of vacuum casting process to the Aranmula method of metal mirror casting process of box casting. They use the alloy of copper and tin called bronze. (Field Study 3).

Case 4:  Payyannur Pavithramodiram (Devine ring of Payyannur)

Payyanur Pavithramodiram is a divinely ordained gold crafted produce, the production of which is the hereditary monopoly of a goldsmith family called Chovvattu Valapil (CV) family in Payyannur in Kannur district of Kerala.  The Divine Ring of Payyannur (PayyannurPavitramodiram) is the creative expression of the artistic marvels of one goldsmith family at Payyannur in Kannur district of Kerala.

The wearing of holy ring made of “dharbha grass” is a Hindu tradition during ritualistic performances. The Pavuthram ring in gold was made for the first time during the reinstallation ceremony in the Sree Subramanya Swami Temple at Payannur after the reconstruction of the ancient temple in 19th century. It was the temple chief priest, who entrusted Sri Kelappan Perunthattan of the Chowwatta Valappil family to make the divine ring in gold with necessary guidance. The adept craftsman accordingly grasped the structural nuances of the ring, which made it vibrant with spiritual strength. The supreme priest, the tantri, did all the rituals by wearing the particular gold ring. Thereafter, it became a convention to make the divine gold ring by his sucessors and with the efforts of his grandson CV Kunhambu, it won widespread popularity. CV Jayachandran, the son of CV Kunhambu, is the present link of this glorious craftsmanship and he keeps alive the rich tradition of the artistic marvels of the Payyannur Pavithra Modiram.

Payyannur thus became the birth place of the divine ring and became famous all the world over in the name of Pavithra Modiram. It was the  Sri Subramanya Swamy Temple supreme priest, who was instrumental to get the divine ring produced by Chovvatta Valappil Kelappan Perumthattan[80] of a goldsmith family at Payyannur in the month of April 1838 (Medam 1030)  about 183 years ago, during the occasion of the temple renovation ceremony and reinstallation of the idol of the deity. The divine secret technique of making the ring was first conveyed by the temple chief priest to the Viswakarma craftsman Sri Kelappan Perumthattan (who produced the gold ring at the instance of the supreme priest. The gold ring making became the traditional profession of the Chovvatta Valappil Family, headed by Sri Kelappan Perumthattan. His grandson Chovvatta Valappil Kunhambu Shroff (Sarap), became a reputed craftsman, who was well skilled in the ring making profession. At present his son Chovavatta Valappil Jayachandran is continuing the divine profession of making the gold ring.

Usually, the Pavitramodiram is made up of Dharbha grass. But Chovvatta Valappil Kelappan Perumthattan, who was associated with activities of Sree Subramanya Swami temple, was instructed to make the Pavithramodiram in gold, which was worn during performance of rituals during the reinstallation after the renovation of the temple, which was destroyed by Tipu Sultan of Mysore, the tyrant and the religious fanatic, during his Malabar invasion in 1830s.  Subsequently his grandson Chovvatta Valappil Kunhambhu continued the mission of making the gold ring. At present, his son Chovvattu Valappil Jayachandran, who inherited the skill of making divine gold ring, is doing the divine ordeal.

The Craftsmanship:  It takes three days’ work to make the Pavitramodiram. The makers of the Pavitramodiram may consume pure vegetarian diet and teetotallers. During the works, they observe certain spiritual disciplines. After the completing the work, the craftsman himself takes the ring to Sree Subramanya Swamy Temple for getting it graced with rituals (pooja), after which, the ring is believed to become vibrant with spiritual energy.

Pavithramodiram expresses its artistic marvels adorned by the Viswakarma craftsmen, whose artistic skills and creative magnificence are far more exquisite and traditionally driven.

Now the living heirs are CV Dayanadan, CV Chandrahasan, and CV Jayachandran among whom CV Chandrahasan and CV Jayachandran are producing the sacred rings on demand. Some goldsmiths are producing this rings illegally it is told. (Field Study 4).

Artisans:  CV Dayanandan, CV Chandrahasan,  CV Jayachandran 

Case 5:  Aranmula Palliyodam (Snake Boats) Crafts

The Aranmula Uthrattathi Vallamkali or snakeboat race is one of the year’s biggest festivities in the village of Aranmula and one of the oldest traditional races in Kerala. It is linked to the Parthasarathy temple and takes place every year on Uthrattathy day in the month of Chingam in the Malayalam Calendar (August-September), four days after Thiruonam.[81]

Chundanvallam (beaked boat) known to the outside world as Kerala snake boats are one of the icons of Kerala culture used in vallamkali (snake boat race).

Palliyodams or snake boats are built by the carpenters (aasaries) of the Viswakarma community in Kerala. The majestic boats are built from the wood of the kadampu or anjili (a type of jackfruit tree) following the specifications given in Sthapathya Veda, or Viswakarma Bhodhika, the ancient treatises on boat building. They are about 30 m long and imposing prow rises 6 m above the waterline. With the rear portion towering to a height of about 20 ft and long tapering front portion, it resembles a snake with its hood raised. Its hull is built of planks precisely 83 ft in length and six inches in wide. It takes over a year to build a boat, which costs the sum of rupees ranging from sixty five to seventy five lakhs.

The Palliyodams are built by the Palliyodam Seva Samithy (The Snake Boat Service Society), the office bearers of which are usually hailing from high caste community. Presidency of the Palliyodam Seva Samithy is a covetable chair in the societal dispensation of central Kerala. The building artisans among Viswakarma community are called valanmar. To build a palliyodam 1200 man days (thachu) are required to complete the work. The worker used to get work for nearly 9 or 10 months as the case may be. (Field Study 5)

Case 6:  The Creative Business of Metal Craft of Mannar

Mannar in Alapuzha district in Kerala is a traditional commercial centre for bell metal crafts products, the crafts people of which belong to the moosari sects of the Viswakarma community in Kerala. Kurattikadu is the main part of Mannar and hub of metal handicraft forges. Craftsmen here adopt the lost wax casting process to make different metal products. The Koftagari art style of inlaying light colour metal on dark colour metal is followed to a large extent by the artisans in the village of Mannar.

Mannar is the bell metal business town of Kerala. It is the second largest bell metal business centre in India, after the city of Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh. Bell metal, like gold, is an auspicious metal, which are used for making idols and icons for temples, and also other utensils and metal wares for household ornamentations and utilisations. It is believed that about 200 years ago, the Viswakarma community was invited by the rulers in Kerala from Shankarankoil and Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu to build temples. Later on they became proficient in metal handicrafts, which were popularised by leaps and bounds all over the state and outside. There were nearly 50 families earlier to engaging individually in metal crafting, but at present there are only 12 units doing craft works. Now nearly 95 artisans are working with big forges on daily wages. There are about 45 shops and establishments in Mannar town to sell the bell metal handicrafts.

The Viswakarma community of Kerala is divided into five categories such as Assary (carpenters), Moosary (metal smiths), Thattan (gold and silver smiths), Kallassary (stone carving craftsmen), and Kollans (iron smiths). Assary and Moosary are nowadays working as metal craftsmen in Mannar.

The Making of the Metalwares:

The Raw materials: The raw materials used for making bell metal handicrafts consist of  bee wax, clay, rubber wood, and coconut husk as fuels, and different types of scrap metals of copper, zinc, tin, and scrap alloys of bell metal, brass and bronze.

The Tools: The following are the tools for the purpose of making bell metal produces; hammers, files, blower, crucible, pincers, drill, lathe chisels, narayam, achukol, ariipa, welding machine, chopper, kadairumbu, roller stone, spade, compass, ruler, mattam, cutting and grinding blades, and sander blade and fibre blade.

The Process:

  1. First of all, a mixture of clay, cow dung and casted soil and broken moulds are made. These are mixed into a dough form and a mould of required design is made around the achukol, where as idol or figurine moulds are made enclosing the wax design with the clay. The base mould is dried in sunlight for a day.
  2. As the mould is dried, white wax is applied on the top of the mould with a certain thickness.
  3. Then, the mixture of clay is applied, and get it dried.
  4. And the final coating is applied further.
  5. The dried mould is covered with tiles by forming a furnace.
  6. The raw metal and the alloy are filled in crucibles.
  7. After melting of the wax the mould is carefully places in a freshly dug pit as per the size of the pit.
  8. As the alloy solidifies in the mould it is taken out from ground and the clay is broken using hammers.
  9. The product is taken for finishing process with many sub steps.
  10. Finally the product is polished with a clear liquid metal polish. Now the product is ready to be supplied to the shops and traders.

Products:  Lamps/Bells/Kitchen utensils and the like.

The metal products are mainly bells, lamps, statues, idols water pots and the like. We met Rajan Achari K, who is the traditional craftsman of bell metal crafts works. We visited his work place, where fifteen artisans are working under his supervision. He pays Rs 950 per day for skilled artisan, Rs 850 per day for semi skilled worker and Rs 700 per day for unskilled worker. Altogether there are 140 traditional artisans in the area hailing from 130 families. Earlier there were 37 work places at Mannar for producing bell metal crafts. Now there are only seven workplaces, many of them are managed by non-artisan community. Metal casting process at Mannar workplaces is cire perdue or lost wax process. But the methodology of the craft work is little bit different from that of the process at Kunhimangalam Heritage Village in Kannur district. The metal craft produces are sold at sales shops at the Mannar town, where 45 shops are opened in the small town of Mannar. (Field Study 6).

Artisan:  Rajan Achary K. 

Case 7:  Onavillu: The Artistic Spendour of the Divine Bow

Onavillu (ceremonial bow) is a glorious specimen of artistic splendour created by Lord Viswakarma, which is being traditionally carried forward in a disciplined way for centuries. Ceremoniously prepared by the descendants of Mayan, an Artist successor of Viswakarm, these divine bows depict Lord Mahavishnu’s Veerashayana and other stories of His incarnations.

For generation after generation, bows are prepared by a particular family called Vilayil Veedu family, in Karamana in Thiruvananthapuram district. Binu Kumar Achary, is the present head of the traditional Vilayilveedu Family. It is a divinely ordained artistry gifted to and enjoyed by a lone family of Vilayilveedu in ‘God’s own Country’, the state of Kerala.

Onavillu is a prayerfully crafted bow. These bows are made out of the trunk of Kadamp or Mahagony trees. Before cutting the trees customary permission should be sought from the flora and fauna of the trees.  The art work is done with five colours (panchavarna) consist of white, red, yellow, green and black. The Dravidian painting style is followed for the art work. (Field Study 7).

Case 8:  The Wood Carving Crafts of Peruvanam

Peruvanam is a gifted village in Thrissur district, where the gifted artisans, who are leading their livelihoods by the hereditary craftsmanship of creative artistry. They are hailing from 23 families of Aasari (carpentry) sub sect  of traditional Viswakarama community, whose ancestors came from Tanjavoor in Tamil Nadu for building Peruvanam Shiva temple some 300 years back. They were believed to be well versed in Dravidian artistry of darushilpanirmithi (wood craft) (Field Study 8).

  1. Conclusion:

‘Furnaces and Crucibles’: The Viswakarma Tools for Creative Livelihoods

Artistry and craftsmanship form the cultural foundations of a creative economy. Creative economy assumes prominence in the contemporary era of globalisation as creative industries are developing as new avenues of economic achievements. Creative crafts help pave the way for sustainable livelihoods for the artisans and craftsmen.

Viswakarmas are the compact social conglomerate of craftsmen consisting of five occupational sub-groups namely blacksmiths or ironsmiths, carpenters or wood workers, sculptors/architects or masons, coppersmiths/bronzsmiths and goldsmiths. Viswakarmas are the traditional craftspeople of India. They are necessarily the builders and makers of the world (Jan Brouwer, 1995).

Viswakarmas are the traditional craftspeople of India. They are really the entrepreneurial class, which comprises the five occupational categories of blacksmiths, carpenters, sculptors, coppersmiths and goldsmiths. They were the knowledge and science people, who articulated the material culture for promoting wealth creation in a creative economy.

Viswakarma craftsmanship is an intangible cultural heritage as it forms the traditional knowledge and skill based craft activities (ich.unesco.org). They were the people who acquired the creative skills through hereditary means of generational dispensation of socio-engineering .They laid the civilisational foundation for the creative economy of Indian culture of ethics and morals .We may call this as Viswakarma economy with a non-violent workmanship. Viswakarma economy is the economy of creativity, which aims at enhancing sustainable livelihoods for the artisanal participants. Viswakarma craftsmanship fosters the economy of creativity with little provisioning of institutional engagements in Kerala. The Viswakarma artistry is forming the avenues for creative livelihoods for the traditional artisans. The culture of creativity is the hallmark of the Viswakarma craftsmanship, which propounded the material culture for promoting welfare and riches for the societal living. The material culture developed by the ancient artisans, the progenitor of the Viswakarma community, was moulded in furnaces and crucibles in Mohenjodaro and Harappa in the distant past. (Dr.DakshinamoorthyStapathy, Interview). Market economy was the structural foundation of Harappan society, where artisanal community produced things for others. The entrepreneurial capitalism rooted in the creative spirit of Viswakarma artistry was the economic system prevailed in Harappa and Mohenjodarao some 5000 years ago.

Viswakarmas are the pioneers in smithy, carpentry and sculptoring and architecture. They are a compact social class, which comprises five categories of occupational groupings. The Viswakarma economy of creativity has been evolved in furnaces and crucibles attached to traditional workplace of the hereditary artisans. The creative activity of the Viswakarma artisans enables them to assume higher economic mobility with a greater degree of occupational nobility. (Participatory Learning and Action/Case Study Platform).

We examined eight cases of artistic marvels of Viswakarma craftsmanship in the Indian state of Kerala. They are the metal (brass) crafts at Kunhimangalam in Kannur district and at Mannar in Alappuzha district, the divine rings of Payyannur in Kannur District, metal mirror crafts at Aranamula in Pathanamthitta District and at Adakaputhur in Palakkad district, snake boat crafts at Aranmula in Pathanamthitta district, wood carving crafts at Pruvanam in Thrissur district, and divine bow crafts at Karamana in Thiruvananthapuram district. (Case Analyses).

The workplaces of all the crafts work are attached to the homes of respective artisans. The workplaces of the smiths are called kottil.  Both men and women used to participate in production activities of smiths as they are running as family enterprises. They use traditional implements such as chuttika (hammer), uli (cutting blade), ula (kiln), choola (furnace), moosha (crucible), chuttika (hammer), and many more.

The Viswakarma production units are found less modernised and more tradition oriented. The Viswakarmas are earning their livelihoods with their tradition bound production systems without having any advanced technological innovations. The Viswakarma craftsmen produce the traditional cultural products for daily uses as well as for occasional uses.

Viswakarma craftsmanship is the better means of sustainable livelihoods for rural artisans and craftspeople. The institutional assistances from the governments, both central and state, are of greater necessity for improving the livelihood status of the traditional artisans among Viswakarma community, who were summarily neglected by both central and state governments in implementing welfare programmes for  enhancing their livelihood achievements. Viswakarmas are the only artisans community in India where the government schemes for community developments are totally denied.

Viswakarma economy of creativity, which is necessarily a non-violent economy with the working principle of ahimsa paramodharma (non-violence is the righteous means) is to be promoted for achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs) by ensuring creative livelihoods for the traditional artisans and craftsmen.

Note:  The Paper forms the part of research project titled “The Traditional Craftsmanship in a Creative Society: The Artistic Marvels of the Viswakarma Community of India” by the author, produced under Tagore National Fellowship Programme offered by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India  tenable at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Ministry of Culture, Government of India (Regional Centre), Bengaluru, India.

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[1] ‘Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas in to reality’.(creativityatwork.com)

[2]For a detailed discussion on creative class, see Richard L Florida.( 2002).The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life, New York: Basic Books

[3] The craft industry or the creative manufacturing industry, has a 5000years artisanal legacy and about 60 million people who work in the sector in India. Creative Manufacturing, shrishti.ac.in

[4]The craft people who are occupied in small-scale production of goods or there are now often termed as artisans or craftsmen.

[5]Viswakaramacommunity is often described as a unified grouping of five sub groups namely blacksmiths, carpenters, braziers, silpis and goldsmiths. (Viswakaramapuranam by Kalahasthi Rishi, Trans.Dr P Nageswara Rao, Print 1980

[6]The size of the Viswakarma population is, approximately, to the extent of 18-19 crores , which comes to about 13% of Indian population. Since there have been hardly any census on Viswakarma population in India the figure is of rough estimate  drawing from may personal  discussions on Viswakarma population  with the community people from time to time  and whose figures are hardly identical – Author

[7]Material culture can be described as any object that humans use to survive , define social relationships, represent facets of identity , or benefit people’s state of mind , social or economic standing. See Victor Buchli, 2004, Material Culture: Critical Concepts in Social sciences , Vol.1, Issue 1,London: Routledge, P.241,ISBN978-0415267199; Dant Tim, 1999, Material Culture in the Social world, McGraw Hill Education, UK ISBN 9780335198214

[8]Creative economy refers to an economic system where value is based on novel imaginative qualities rather than the traditional resources of land, labour and capital. (John Anthony Howkins. (2001); 2nd Edn 2013, The Creative Economy: How People Make Money From Ideas, Ch 1. )See also, UNDP/UNESCO.(2013).The Creative Economy Report,2013.New York:UNDP .pp. 19-20

[9]See Jaya Jaitly, ‘In Search of Vishwakaram and His Progeny’, in Vijya Ramaswamy,(Ed).(2019).In Search of Vishwakarma :Mapping Indian Craft Histories, Delhi: Primus Books.Pp.15-21

[10] Continuumof archeo-metallurgica and Indus Script hieroglyph traditions in regions beyond Sarasvati-Sindhu river basins/Bharatkalyan 6/19/2019

[11]  See Marshall( 1931; Mackay .(1938)( 1943); Vats.(1940); Kenoyer.(,1991); Dales and Kenoyer.(1991)

[12] Archeological evidences testify the facts (See Marshal, 1931).

[13]The excavations done in Indus valley and Harappan regions clearly exposed the evidences such as coins, artefacts like bangles, chains and the like that necessarily testifies the existence of well developed market economy with exchange system of monetary transactions.

[14]‘ There is evidence that people in Mesopotamian cities like Ur owned distinctively Harappan luxury goods such as beads, pottery, weapons, and tiny carved bones’ ,Sanchar Pal, betterindia.com

[15]Cristian Violatti((2013) .Ancient History Encyclopaedia , Ancient India, www.ancient.eu/india.

[16]The Harappan artisans were the creative people who were well versed in science and technology as the  artefacts showing the letters and writings  excavated in the Harappan regions testify.

[17]See RN Misra,’ Artists and the Early Art Activity, ‘ in Vijaya Ramaswamy .(2019).ibid  pp 117-144.

[18]See Christian Violatt.( 2013). Indus Valley Civilization,  Ancient History Encycopedia, ancient.eu

[19] Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) indicated “ the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills-as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith- that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage (ich.unesco.org).

[20]Field survey.

[21]Jan Brouwer, ‘ Dynamics of Diversity and Inclusion : The Case of Diversity and Inclusion’, in Vijaya Ramaswamy, (2019). ibid, pp.80-94.

[22]See Christian Violatti.(2013).ibid.      

[23]Tony Rogers.( 2018).Culture of Creativity,12 January 2018, creativemechanisms.com

[24]Felipe Fernandez-Armesto. (2001). Civilizations: Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of Nature, New York: The Free Press, A Division of Simon&).chuster Inc. ISBN 9780743216500.

[25]Jan Bouwer.( 1995).ibid

[26]Tony Rogers.( 2018).Culture of Creativity,12 January 2018, creativemechanisms.com

[27]Field survey

[28]Varna system forms  the indigenous sociological theory of human categorization based on quality of life and work ethics. Varna system is a social order , which classifies the people into four classes viz; Shudras ( laboiurers and service provides), Vaishyas (agriculturists and merchants), Kshatriyas ( rulers, warriors and administers ) and Brahmines ( priests, scholars and teachers). Varna was used to refer to social classes in the Hindu texts like Manusmrit. The concept is generally traced to the Purusha Sukta verse in Rig Veda (see Manusmriti and Rigveda).

[29]The Chebrolu Inscription of CE 1118, The Nadindla Inscription of CE 1141 and the Tellapur Inscription of CE 1147 state that the smiths and sculptures belonged to the Viswakarma Kula ( South Indian Inscriptions (SII) Vol.VI ,No.117; SII , Vol.VI, No.673)

[30]Vijaya Ramaswamy, 2019, “ Casting the Vishawakarma in Peninsular India”, in Vijaya Ramaswamy , 2019, In Search of Vishwakarma : Mapping Indian Craft Histories, Delhi : Primus Books, p.58

[31]Aarthasastra of Kautilya.

[32]Agnipurana, Sanskrit Text

[33] ‘There is no single point of reference for them in the indigenous sociological theory of Varna categories’, Jan Brouwer( 1995). The Makers of the World: Caste, Craft, and Mind of the South Indian Artisans , Delhi: Oxford University Press, p.80

[34]See Jan Bouwer( 1995).The Makers of the World: Caste, Craft and Mind of the south Indian artisans, Delhi: Oxford University Press.

[35]Social equality is a state where people are treated fairly and given equal chances without any discrimination. For theoretical analysis, see Leslie Stephe( 1891). “Social Equality”, International Journal of Ethics, April 1891, Vol.1, No.3 ,pp.261-288, published by University of Chicago Press, URL: http://www.jstor.com/stable/2375306

[36]Inclusive economy expands opportunities and limits exploitations. See Adam Smith.(1776). Wealth of Nations.

[37]Inclusive economy advances equitable opportunities for economic participants and the benefits of economic progress are equally enjoyed by every people in the society. See Sara Murawski. (thebrokeronline.eu).

[38]See Ananda Coomaraswamy.(1909). The Indian Craftsman, London: Probsthai. & Co.

[39]See Frederic Leriche & Sylvie Daviet, Published online on 5 July 2010, Cultural Economy:An Opportunity to Boost Employment and Regional Development , Journal Regional studies, Vol.44,( 2010), Issue 7, p 807-11.

[40]Viswakarma artistry entails the production and exchange   cultural products of various forms in Kerala.

[41]See for more details Vijaya Ramaswamy, ‘Cosmic World of Medieval Craftsmen: An Introduction’, in Vijaya Ramaswamy, (Ed), (2019), In Search of Vishwakarama: Mapping Indian Craft Histories, Delhi: Primus Books.

[42] Vishwakarma technological sciences are briefly examined by Kirin Narayan and Kenneth M George, ‘Vishwakarma: God of Technology’ in Knut A Jacobsen and Krystina Myrvold (eds) (2018).  Religion and Technology in India:Spaces, Practices and Authorities, New York , NY : Routledge.

[43]See Manusmriti. Sanskrit Text

[44]Varnas have been known since a hymn in the Rig Veda, the oldest surviving Indian text, that portrays the Brahmin (priest), the Kshatriya (noble), the Vaisya (commoner) and the Shudra (servant) issued forth at creation from the mouth , arms, thighs, and feet of the primeval person (purusha).(britannica.com).

[45]Jan Brouver (2019).ibid.

[46]See Vishwakaram Puranam by Kalasati Rishivar, Trans. Dr. Pedapati Nageswara Rao (2018). Bengaluru: Brahmasree Vaithianathacharya Foundation

[47] Welfare measures aiming at the development of viswakarma artisans are hardly included in Central and State government apparatus since independence.

[48]  No professional or engineering institutions in the state of Kerala an also in the country (with the lone exception of the Government engineering College in Traditional Architecture in Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu ) to offer training programmes  to the incumbents hailing from viswakarma craft community.

[49]The age old building constructs like temples, palaces all over India testifies this. Also see David Pye, 1968, The Nature and the Art of Workmanship, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[50] George Varghese. (2003).’ Globalisation Traumas and New Social Imaginary:  Viswakarma Community in Kerala, economic and Political weekly, Nov.8-14, 35(45): 4794-4802.

[51]‘ Cultural heritage is an expression of the ways of living developed by a community and passed on from generation to generation, including customs, practices, places, objects, artistic expressions and values’.(culture in development .nl)

[52]ICOMOS, International Cultural Tourism Charter. Principles and Guidelines for managing Tourism at Places of Cultural and Heritage Significance .ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Committee.( 2002).

[53]Intangible heritage includes voices, values, traditions, oral history that popularly perceive through cuisine, clothing, forms of shelter, traditional skills and technologies , religious ceremonies, performing arts, storytelling (cultureindevelopment.nl).

[54]The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries in a global partnership. (sdgs.un.org).

[55] ‘Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) is the process of involving local people in the analysis and interpretation of their own situation of a given rural area. .It is methodology used for interactive processes of social development’. (methods.sagepub.com). Participatory Rural Appraisal is recently renamed as Participatory Learning for Action (PLA).

[56]Intangible cultural heritage includes traditions or living expressions  inherited  from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants , such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals , festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts. (UNESCO, 2003/ich.unesco.org).

[57]Kamaldevi Chattopadhyaya, 1980, India’s Craft Tradition, New Delhi: Publication Division , Ministry of Culture , Government of India .

[58]Jamila Brijbhushan, 1961, Indian Metal Ware, New Delhi: All India Handicrafts Board, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

[59]Jaya Jaitlly, 2001, Visvakarma’s Children: Stories of India’s Crafts People,   New Delhi: Institute of Social Sciences and Concept Publishing Company.

[60]Moolasthambapuranam, Mal.Trns, ARC Acharaya. (2018).Published by the Author.

[61]The term ‘knowledge worker‘ was first coined by Peter Drucker in his book The Landmarks of Tomorrow (1959). Knowledge is the main capital of the knowledge worker.

[62]Dr Daksina moorthy Stapathi, Chennai.(Interview).

[63]The Hindu scriptures underline the importance of non-violence in human livings. Ahimsaparamodharma ( Non-(violence is the basic duty of the humans) form the working principle of the Viswakarama community. (Vishwakaramapuranam).

[64]Dr Nilambur KRC. (2017).Vishwakarmavum karmajarum,(Mal), Kochi: Kurukshetra Prakashan.

[65]Dr Nilamabur KRC. (2017).ibid

[66]Mohenjodarao/Harappan excavations testify this contention.

[67]Private enterprises create wealth for promoting economic welfare and social well-being.(see Kautilya’s Arthasastra)

[68]See Adam Smith.(1776(.  An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of Wealth of Nations, London:W.Strahanand T.Cadell.

[69] The artifacts excavated in Mohenjodara/Harappa sites testifies.

[70]Nilambur KRC.( 2017). ibid

[71] See V Natarajan.( 1999).Viswakarma: Orujathiyudeperalla(Mal).Alleppy: Viswakaram service Society.

[72] The names given in parenthesis are in vernacular language Malayalam

[73]Rig Veda mentions about ayas means metal. Arthasastra speaks about the role of Director of Metals. the Director of Metals was responsible for stating metal industries. The Atharvaveda and Satapada Brahmana refer to krisnaayas which could be black metal. The Yajurveda seems to know iron. In Taittiriya Samhita are references to ayas and at least one reference to smiths. In Charaka Samhita, an analogy occurs that probably refers to the lost wax technique. The Silpasastras (the Manasara, the Manasollasa (Abhilashitartha Chintamani) and Uttarabhaga of Silparatna ) describe the lost wax technique in detail. See Chakrabarti DK. (1992).The Early Use of Iron in India, Delhi: Oxford University Press.

[74]See S Srinivasan and S Ranganathan, Metallurgical Heritage of India. (tf.uni-kiel.de).

[75]For detailed account of ancient Indian Metallurgy see R Balasubramanian, in Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine in Non-Western Culture, 2008 edition, (9https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4425-0_9765).

[76]‘The last wax technique, one of the oldest but by no means simplest casting processes, has been perfected over thousands of years, over and over again. The basis for all methods is the hollowwax model created from the flexible reproduction mould. Retouched and provided with sprues and risers, it is dipped into a ceramic mass and dried.  The liquid metal is filled or drawn in resulting cast mould at a wide variety of moulding temperatures. This is how delicate shapes and impressive works of art are created’. (edition-strassacker.de).

[77]Jonathan M Kenoyer and Heather ML Miller, Metal Technology of the Indus Valley Tradition in Pakistan and Western India. (harappa.com).

[78]Investment casting is an industrial process based on lost-wax casting, one of the oldest known metal forming techniques. The term “lost-wax casting” can also refer to modern investment casting has been used in various forms for the last 5000yeras. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

[79]Sanskrit texts such as Shilparatanaand MANASARA describe in detail the process and principles for art work with metals , particularly for alloys such as pancha dhatu (five metals –zinc, tin, copper , silver and gold) and ashta dhatu (eigt metal alloys –which adds iron, lead, and mercury to pancha dhatu). Madhuchista Vidhana (cire perdie or lost loss wax castinting process is the most discussed process in these ancient shilpa shastras with metals.See Summary of Manasara  by Prasanna Kumar Acharya, published by EJ Brill Ltd, London. (1918).

[80]Perumthattan means Master Goldsmith.

[81]Thiruonamis the annual national festival of the state of Kerala

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