1st Edition

Crafts and Craftsmen in Pre-colonial Eastern India Technology and Culture

By Asha Shukla Choubey Copyright 2022
    250 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    250 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    250 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    This book presents a comprehensive socio-cultural history of crafts and crafts persons in pre-colonial Eastern India. It focuses on the technology of crafts as being integral to the traditional lives of the crafts persons and explores their cultural and social world. It offers an in-depth analysis of the complexities of craft technologies in the three sectors of cotton textile, sericulture and silk textile and mining and metallurgy in the regions of Bihar and Jharkhand in Eastern India in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Apart from technology, the book discusses a range of socio-economic themes including craft production systems; marketing and financing patterns; impact of contact with the world market; craft persons’ identities in terms of caste affiliations and group divisions; negotiations for upward caste mobility; contestations and dissent of lower castes; power and social stratification; functioning of caste panchayats; gender division of craft labour; myths, beliefs and religiosity attributed to craft usages; social and ritual traditions; and contemporary craft traditions.

    Rich in archival and diverse sources, including oral traditions, paintings, and findings from extensive field visits and interactions with crafts persons, this book will be an essential read for scholars and researchers of crafts, medieval Indian history, social history, sociology and social anthropology, economic history, cultural history, science and technology studies, and South Asian studies. It will also interest government and non-governmental organisations, textile historians, craft and design specialists, contemporary craft industrial sector, and museums.  


    1.      Cotton Textiles

    2.      Sericulture and Silk Textiles

    3.      Mining, Metallurgy and Metal Craft

    4.      Craft Production Systems, Marketing and Financing Patterns

    5.      Social World of the Craftsmen: Cultural Dimensions of Crafts

    6.      Locating Continuing Craft Traditions

    7.      Conclusion



    Asha Shukla Choubey is Associate Professor in the Department of History, Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi, India. With a teaching experience of close to four decades, her specialisation lies in Medieval Indian History, particularly crafts in medieval India. She is currently involved in exploring issues of state and sovereignty based on the study of the epic poem Ramcharitmanas. Her research papers have been published in peer-reviewed journals. She has contributed study material to the School of Open Learning, University of Delhi and National Open School, Central Board of Secondary Education, Delhi.

    "Choubey’s work demonstrates a new approach to the topic of crafts in India, with many points from which researchers could raise further questions and debate. For graduate students, her book is a good starting point to understand the world of crafts and craftspeople of eastern India, and the footnotes and references are very useful for scholars interested in understanding the crafts from a history of science and technology perspective." - THAMARAI SELVAN KANNAN, Technology & Culture