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Craft and Industries in Assam: Pre British Age
Chapter – 8
PART – A
1. (a) What is “Thupori”?
Ans. ” Thupori ” is an Assamese term . Girls without knowledge of spinning and weaving were doughed at by the society using a derogatory word ” Thupori” which means to be unskilled.
(b) To which profession was the guild called “Jola” engaged during the Ahom rule?
Ans. During the Ahom rule the guild called “Jola” was engaged with the profession of spinning and weaving.
(c ) What was the name of the cloth which was prepared by spinning and weaving within a night by the wife and given to her husband setting out for battle during the Ahom age?
Ans. ‘ Kabach- Kapur’.
(d) What is Gunakoteea?
Ans. The Ahom Swargadeos imported goldsmiths and person killed in making floral design with golden thread (guna) to Assam and settle them creating a professional guild called ‘GunaKatia or ‘ ‘GunaKotea’.
(e) What is Lao-mati?
Ans. ‘ Laa- maati’ is a traditional Assamese term in the rainy season when new waves occurred in the rivers, the strong water currents abrades soil mixed with iron ore from the hills. This soil is called ‘ Laa- maati’.
(g) What is Shekor?
Ans. ‘Dhekor’ is an Assamese term that means two iron bars adjoining both the upper and lower ends of an Assamese palanquin.
(h) What is ‘Khatang’?
Ans. ‘Khatang’ is an Assamese term for a ring like contrivance made with cane and used for trying together the forelegs of an elephant.
2. Short Note:
(a) Bell- metal industry: Bell- metal industries are one of the oldest industries of Assam. There are many souces to know about the bell metal industry of Ancient Assam and the numerous products made of it. We came to know about various bell- metal materials in ancient literature like Kalika Puran, Charjyapad, Yoginitantra, Charit Puthis and also in Madhav Kandali’s Ramayana too.
Bell- metal industries got considerable expansion in medieval Assam. The workers of this craft mixed copper and thin and sometimes silver to make bell- metal. In this age various bell- metal utensils are mainly used. Tools like ‘ Haturi’ (hammer), ‘Chepena’ (force), ‘Cheenee’ (Chisel) its were made.
It is heard that the Assam Swargadeos brought ‘Kanti- mati’ (bell- metal soil) from Bhutan and managed to produce ‘ Assamese- Kanh’ (Asamaese bell- metal).
(b) Cooper industry:
Copper industry was also one of the oldest industries of Assam various materials made of copper including copper plates used by the kings of ancient Kamunapa are mentioned in various ancient literary works . It is known that the roof of the temple of Tamneswari of ancient Sadia was made of Copper. Various materials like Tamor Kolch, Bhogjara, Horai, Hophura, Tema, articles needed for workshop in the temples etc were made of copper.
In addition to making materials of pure copper the craftsmen gave new shape to the copper materials like Kakashi, Horai and Hip Hura etc. covering those materials with gold and silver sheets. Likewise these craftsmen were also engaged in enamelling various copper materials with gold and silver.
In medival Assam copper was mainly collected from the neighbouring hill- tribes. It has been known that copper was imported from China also. Skilled craftsmen from the professional guilds like Kohar, Komar, Moreea etc were engaged in copper industry.
(c) Brass industry: It is presumed that brass has been used in Assam since ancient times. Brass industry was an important industry during the Ahom rule. It is mentioned in the Buranjis that during the Ahom age the important brass industry was developed in Assam by the craftsmen of the Moreea Khel. Almost in all occasions brass materials were used during the age. Choria, Horai, You, Khorahi, Koloh, Hophura, Neta, Toleea, even the Doba ( drum) used in Namghar etc. were made of brass.
The alloys metal brass was produced by mixing zinc with copper. The brass workers or craftsmen manufactured various materials by cutting and joining pieces of brass by melting in furnace and pounding the pieces of brass in arrival. Preparing particulars earthen mould or format and pouring melted brass in it various materials of brass were manufactured.
6. Write briefly about the iron smelting craft in ancient Assam?
Ans. The iron smelling craft or iron industry was one of the major industry of ancient Assam. In medieval Assam, the people of the ‘ Trowel’ or ‘ Loo- Saleea’ Khel (guild) were engaged in producing iron.
Although the iron work was done by the Komar Khel ( build of blacksmith) in medieval Assam. The people of the ‘ Loo- Saleea’ or ‘ Trowel Khel’ were associated with the craft of producing iron or iron smelling. In the rainy season, when new waves occurred in the river the strong water currents abrades soil mixed with iron ore from the hills and create Chot (sand bank) in different places of the rivers. The silts cover these Send bank and in winter season the soil with iron ore of these sand banks become hard. The Loo-sales then dug cut these soil in a Jaali goat (Furnace) installed in a big roofed house. Then the iron- mixed soil was burnt using firewood are started melting. Then after, stirring and picking with ladles the iron ore were pounded are placed in moulds and thereby them different shapes and forms solid or flat. On being pounded frequently the unnecessary substances got removed, leaving the piece of iron pure.
Some objects made of iron were Haturi, Torowal, Hengdangs, Shekor, etc.
7. What do you know about the pottery in Ancient?
Ans. Pottery is a very old industry in Assam. Various utensils and other materials of pottery discovered from the excavation works at Guwahati, Nagaon, Tezpur, Golaghat and other places of Assam established that Assam has been rich in pottery since the Pre- Ahom era. In ancient Assam the professional people kumbhojkar were engaged in pottery.
During the Ahom age pottery was developed with the royal patronage of the Swargadeos. Likewise, pottery was developed in the kingdoms of Koch, Kochani, Chutiyaa etc. with the royal patronage. People from the guilds (Khel) like Kumar, Heera, Khonikar, etc were engaged in pottery. The soil used by the potters for pottery was called ‘Potter’s Clay’. This type of soil was generally collected from digging the silt found near the mouth of the river. After having sufficiently collected collected this type of blackish clay soil, the same was properly trampled and smeared on mould to give designed shape of various vessels. Then the vessels were taken out from the moulds and kept in the sun to dry and again burned to give temper. At last floral design was inscribed on the vessel to give a beautiful look.
Chaak, Athali, Aafuri, Chaali, Majoni, Bolia, Pitonee etc were the tools were used by the potters in pottery. The main earthen materials were Khot, Tekeli, Kolch, Mola, Charu, Mothea, Dhunaadaani etc. Brick making was another craft included in pottery. The bricks were of various sizes and used in making temples, royal place, drain, wells , bridge and many other small a large objects. In true sense the pottery in ancient and medieval Assam was a major art and Industry.
(8) Give a description of the crafts and industries in ancient Assam with the help of your textbook.
Ans. In the context of Assam, we can simply call the time periods from the Pre- historic time to the coming of the Ahoms in 1228AD as Ancient age. Assam had a rich and wide range of crafts and industries since the ancient time. The crafts and industries in ancient Assam are briefly described below-
In the ancient period, the crafts and industries of Assam were not much developed and were a cottage type based on traditional lore. Some crafts and industries of that period were the textile industry, Bamboo and cane craft, Iron smelting craft, Bell – metal Industry, Brass and copper industry, pottery and many other.
Hand-loom were used for weaving the threads to produce cloths by ht e Asamaese women. Ancient Assam was self – sufficient in producing cloth and in this respect the contribution of the women power of Assam was the highest. On the other way, all Assamese men have been working an bamboo and craft since times. Gold, Bell-metal , Brass and copper crafts has been used in Assam since the ancient times. Items made of these materials are mentioned in various ancient Assam. The worker of these crafts and industries used numerous tools and various methods and produced many items becoming self- sufficient in the ancient age. Some of these crafts are still alive and most of them are extinct in oblivion.
PART – B
(a) Tea Industry: One of the primary industries in contemporary Assam that has been integral to the process of industrialism in Assam is tea- industry basically as an agree based industry. Tea industry was initiated in the colonial period in Assam as an example of modern Industry.
The idea behind the establishment of tea industry was conceived in the early part of of the 19th century to be precise in 1834.Then Governor General of India Lord William Bentirick appointed a Committee to initiate the process of introducing tea cultivation in India. He placed before the council a plan of action to be considered immediately for this purpose. The tea committee without wasting time collected required information from the Himalayan foothills, the Hillgiris and the valleys as well as the slopes of NE frontier. Meanwhile an investigation revealed the existence of tea plants from Sadiay to the Chinese frontier province of Yunnan in 1835. This revelation naturally drew the attention of Tea committee towards Upper Assam.
After the discovery of tea in Assam and having done some research and developed by establishing some small prototype tea-garden, finally after a proper quality test it was found that the quality of Assam tea was as good as that of China. Thereafter slowly and gradually many Tea gardens and associations were formed in Assam during the colonial period. Some promo ent names are the Bengal Tea Association Messers Cockrell and Co. Messars Boyd and Co. Assam Tea Company, Maujan Tea company etc.
At present there are about 765 tea gardens and more than approx. 100000 small tea garden in Assam. The total Annual production of tea leaves in Assam is nearly 570 million kg and varieties like CTC, Green Tea, Orthodox , while tea are produced that fetch a good value in world market.
(b) ARTC: ARTC stands for Assam Railway and Trading Company. It was mainly associated with the Mineral Oil industry and Railway and Coal industries in Assam since the British age.
For C Before this FA Good enough failed to establish a petroleum industry, towards the end of 1882 ARTC got a tease in Lakhimpur district for mining oil. It started operation in 1884 and their lease period was for 25 years. As per the lease agreement ARTC could extract 10400 barrels of oil. The Board of Directors of ARTC applied for another lease of about six square miles at Digboi and by 1898. it had been working in as many as ten wells. Later ARTC established a small refinery at Margherita.
ARTC opened its first time Railway connection from Dibrugarh and Dinjan in 1882 connecting a distance of 15 miles. Two years after in 1884 the same time was extended to the extended to the Makam Oil field of Margherita. Gradually it extended it’s connectivity to Barak Valley. Subsequently ARTC got the coal grants and a lease for 20 years are of 30 sq.-miles in the Makum and Jaipur coalfields.
In 1920 shares of ARTC were sold to the Burma Oil Company as a result a new petroleum company of Assam. (AOC) Assam Oil Company was formed and the chairman of DOC.
(c) Petroleum Industry: Mineral oil based industries are considered as one of the primarily industries and hence petroleum Industry played an important role in the economy of Assam.
Colonial government from the very beginning had been interest in natural resources and extensively searched for such resources.Realising the huge potentially of this industry, then chief Commissioner of Assam Henry Cotton recommended to the Government of India to sanction the established of a company in the interest of oil industry ” For C” in the meantime , Assam Oil Company was launched din London with the objective of taking over the lease and plants of the ARTC. AOC played a significant role as the first Petroleum Company proceeded to work and Govt. of India approved the established of the new company with the same terms and conditions as with ARTC. The new company took over the responsibility of Makum and Digboi. The head quarter of the Company was establish at Digboi along with a huge refinery and started production of lubricants illuminating oils, candles and wax.
Assam has an abundant source of mineral oil and new oil fields are being explored through experimental drilling. Modest beginning of this important industry was made in the colonial period through the efforts of some entrepreneurs and in post
(d) HB: HB Medlicott was the Deputy Superintendent of Geological Survey of India. In 1864 Geological survey of India was entrusted with the responsibility of conducting a scientific survey of the coal fields of Upper Assam . Accordingly, HB Medlicot arrived at Dibrugarh towards the end of 1864. Along with the Deputy Commissioner of Lakhimpur , Medlicot surveyed the coal beds of upper Assam and divided into two groups. Jaipur in Sivasagar and Tirap in the near of Makum. In his report Medlicot considered the Jaypur and field more convenient in view of its connectively to the river Dikhow and Dhansiri. Coal from Homchik section of Tirap fields as o served by Medlicot was of excellent quality having crystalloid structure. In his survey report he recommended the terms and condition of teasing out coal field in addition to the nature, extent and commercial use of coal found in upper Assam. He suggested the continuation of previously fixed rate of six anna per acre annual rate and a royal of one rupee for per hundred mound of marketable call produced. Medlicot recommended the advertisement of the coalfields of upper Assam. Hence Medlicott can be regarded as the man behind the establishment of coal industry in Assam.