NCERT Textbook: Colonial Rule And Crafts (Introduction to Indian Art) Notes | Study Old & New NCERTs for IAS Preparation (Must Read) - UPSC

UPSC: NCERT Textbook: Colonial Rule And Crafts (Introduction to Indian Art) Notes | Study Old & New NCERTs for IAS Preparation (Must Read) - UPSC

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 Page 1


WHEN you see the wonderful displays in the crafts
museums of India you will not be surprised to learn
that crafts formed a major part of our exports throughout
history. In fact, India’s crafts communities produced
such fine and artistic objects that merchants travelled
from far to acquire these goods. Seventeenth century
courtly patronage, trade, the jajmani system and the
demand for everyday utility crafts by the rural population
(until the second half of the seventeenth century),
resulted in a steady home market and a worldwide
reputation for Indian crafts.
COLONIAL RULE AND CRAFTS 2
Tavernier, a French traveller in Mughal India, states that the
Ambassador of the Shah of Persia (CE 1628–1641), on his return
from India, presented his master with a coconut shell, set with
jewels, containing a muslin turban thirty yards in length, so
exquisitely fine that it could scarcely be felt by the touch.
TRADE
India has had a long history of trade in craft with other
countries beginning from the Harappan Civilisation 5000
years ago. Over the centuries,
trade with Greece and Rome grew
and historical evidence can be
found in literature and
archaeological excavations.
Flourishing trade led to overland
routes like the Silk Route and
brought silk from China through
Asia into Europe. There are
accounts of caravans, and
Page 2


WHEN you see the wonderful displays in the crafts
museums of India you will not be surprised to learn
that crafts formed a major part of our exports throughout
history. In fact, India’s crafts communities produced
such fine and artistic objects that merchants travelled
from far to acquire these goods. Seventeenth century
courtly patronage, trade, the jajmani system and the
demand for everyday utility crafts by the rural population
(until the second half of the seventeenth century),
resulted in a steady home market and a worldwide
reputation for Indian crafts.
COLONIAL RULE AND CRAFTS 2
Tavernier, a French traveller in Mughal India, states that the
Ambassador of the Shah of Persia (CE 1628–1641), on his return
from India, presented his master with a coconut shell, set with
jewels, containing a muslin turban thirty yards in length, so
exquisitely fine that it could scarcely be felt by the touch.
TRADE
India has had a long history of trade in craft with other
countries beginning from the Harappan Civilisation 5000
years ago. Over the centuries,
trade with Greece and Rome grew
and historical evidence can be
found in literature and
archaeological excavations.
Flourishing trade led to overland
routes like the Silk Route and
brought silk from China through
Asia into Europe. There are
accounts of caravans, and
CRAFT TRADITIONS OF INDIA: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE 16
traders speaking different languages, meeting at trading
stations along the route. Ship-building centres and ports
developed along India’s long coastline. Sea routes to
the Mediterranean countries, Sri Lanka, Myanmar,
South-east Asia and China are mentioned both in
Sangam literature and foreign accounts.
By the time of the Mauryan empire (300 BCE) traders
and craftsmen groups, who had become wealthy and
powerful through trade, were able to donate
substantially for the building of Buddhist monasteries.
There were carpenters and blacksmiths, jewellers and
goldsmiths, weavers and dyers, perfumers and stone
carvers among others. Constant trade with the Middle
East and South-east Asia was already an important
cornerstone of the economy.
In the area of textiles, to South-east Asia we exported
sarongs, to the Middle East went the finest and most
expensive muslins, to West Africa went Christian altar
fronts, to Europe silk and woollen fabrics, dress
Page 3


WHEN you see the wonderful displays in the crafts
museums of India you will not be surprised to learn
that crafts formed a major part of our exports throughout
history. In fact, India’s crafts communities produced
such fine and artistic objects that merchants travelled
from far to acquire these goods. Seventeenth century
courtly patronage, trade, the jajmani system and the
demand for everyday utility crafts by the rural population
(until the second half of the seventeenth century),
resulted in a steady home market and a worldwide
reputation for Indian crafts.
COLONIAL RULE AND CRAFTS 2
Tavernier, a French traveller in Mughal India, states that the
Ambassador of the Shah of Persia (CE 1628–1641), on his return
from India, presented his master with a coconut shell, set with
jewels, containing a muslin turban thirty yards in length, so
exquisitely fine that it could scarcely be felt by the touch.
TRADE
India has had a long history of trade in craft with other
countries beginning from the Harappan Civilisation 5000
years ago. Over the centuries,
trade with Greece and Rome grew
and historical evidence can be
found in literature and
archaeological excavations.
Flourishing trade led to overland
routes like the Silk Route and
brought silk from China through
Asia into Europe. There are
accounts of caravans, and
CRAFT TRADITIONS OF INDIA: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE 16
traders speaking different languages, meeting at trading
stations along the route. Ship-building centres and ports
developed along India’s long coastline. Sea routes to
the Mediterranean countries, Sri Lanka, Myanmar,
South-east Asia and China are mentioned both in
Sangam literature and foreign accounts.
By the time of the Mauryan empire (300 BCE) traders
and craftsmen groups, who had become wealthy and
powerful through trade, were able to donate
substantially for the building of Buddhist monasteries.
There were carpenters and blacksmiths, jewellers and
goldsmiths, weavers and dyers, perfumers and stone
carvers among others. Constant trade with the Middle
East and South-east Asia was already an important
cornerstone of the economy.
In the area of textiles, to South-east Asia we exported
sarongs, to the Middle East went the finest and most
expensive muslins, to West Africa went Christian altar
fronts, to Europe silk and woollen fabrics, dress
 17
COLONIAL RULE AND CRAFTS
materials and bed-hangings. All these fabrics were
considered ‘luxury goods’ in these countries.
The pattern of trade from the Coromandel Coast was
triangular. Arabs carried gold and silver (bullion) to the
Coromandel Coast, exchanged these for textiles, and
then exchanged the latter in Malaysia for spices, with
which they returned to the Middle East.
Throughout the ancient and medieval periods the fame
of Indian cotton textiles, gems and jewels, and spices
like pepper and cardamom, ivory and sandalwood
continued to make trade a lucrative business. Gems
like pearls, and precious stones like diamonds gave to
India the reputation of a fabled land of riches and
natural resources. This reputation of being a land of
riches and extraordinary skills, tempted traders from
Europe, who were willing to go to war, and to risk their
lives in order to get a share of the profit from Indian
trade.
Marco Polo’s (1254–1324) account of his travels to the East makes a
reference to Golconda, now in Andhra Pradesh.
This kingdom produces diamonds. Let me tell you how they are
got. You must know that in the kingdom there are many mountains
in which diamonds are found, as you will hear. When it rains the
water rushes down through these mountains, scouring its way
through mighty gorges and caverns. When the rain has stopped
and the water drained away, then men go in search of diamonds
through these gorges from which the water has come, and they
find plenty. In summer, when there is not a drop of water to be
found then the diamonds are found among the mountains.
Then in a more fanciful mood he records
Another means by which they get diamonds is this. When the eagles
eat the flesh, they also eat—that is they swallow—the diamonds.
Then at night when the eagle comes back, it deposits the diamonds
it has swallowed with its droppings. So men come and collect these
droppings, and there they find diamonds in plenty.... You must
know that in the entire world diamonds are found nowhere else
except this kingdom alone.
– RONALD LATHAM
Marco Polo: the Traveller
Page 4


WHEN you see the wonderful displays in the crafts
museums of India you will not be surprised to learn
that crafts formed a major part of our exports throughout
history. In fact, India’s crafts communities produced
such fine and artistic objects that merchants travelled
from far to acquire these goods. Seventeenth century
courtly patronage, trade, the jajmani system and the
demand for everyday utility crafts by the rural population
(until the second half of the seventeenth century),
resulted in a steady home market and a worldwide
reputation for Indian crafts.
COLONIAL RULE AND CRAFTS 2
Tavernier, a French traveller in Mughal India, states that the
Ambassador of the Shah of Persia (CE 1628–1641), on his return
from India, presented his master with a coconut shell, set with
jewels, containing a muslin turban thirty yards in length, so
exquisitely fine that it could scarcely be felt by the touch.
TRADE
India has had a long history of trade in craft with other
countries beginning from the Harappan Civilisation 5000
years ago. Over the centuries,
trade with Greece and Rome grew
and historical evidence can be
found in literature and
archaeological excavations.
Flourishing trade led to overland
routes like the Silk Route and
brought silk from China through
Asia into Europe. There are
accounts of caravans, and
CRAFT TRADITIONS OF INDIA: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE 16
traders speaking different languages, meeting at trading
stations along the route. Ship-building centres and ports
developed along India’s long coastline. Sea routes to
the Mediterranean countries, Sri Lanka, Myanmar,
South-east Asia and China are mentioned both in
Sangam literature and foreign accounts.
By the time of the Mauryan empire (300 BCE) traders
and craftsmen groups, who had become wealthy and
powerful through trade, were able to donate
substantially for the building of Buddhist monasteries.
There were carpenters and blacksmiths, jewellers and
goldsmiths, weavers and dyers, perfumers and stone
carvers among others. Constant trade with the Middle
East and South-east Asia was already an important
cornerstone of the economy.
In the area of textiles, to South-east Asia we exported
sarongs, to the Middle East went the finest and most
expensive muslins, to West Africa went Christian altar
fronts, to Europe silk and woollen fabrics, dress
 17
COLONIAL RULE AND CRAFTS
materials and bed-hangings. All these fabrics were
considered ‘luxury goods’ in these countries.
The pattern of trade from the Coromandel Coast was
triangular. Arabs carried gold and silver (bullion) to the
Coromandel Coast, exchanged these for textiles, and
then exchanged the latter in Malaysia for spices, with
which they returned to the Middle East.
Throughout the ancient and medieval periods the fame
of Indian cotton textiles, gems and jewels, and spices
like pepper and cardamom, ivory and sandalwood
continued to make trade a lucrative business. Gems
like pearls, and precious stones like diamonds gave to
India the reputation of a fabled land of riches and
natural resources. This reputation of being a land of
riches and extraordinary skills, tempted traders from
Europe, who were willing to go to war, and to risk their
lives in order to get a share of the profit from Indian
trade.
Marco Polo’s (1254–1324) account of his travels to the East makes a
reference to Golconda, now in Andhra Pradesh.
This kingdom produces diamonds. Let me tell you how they are
got. You must know that in the kingdom there are many mountains
in which diamonds are found, as you will hear. When it rains the
water rushes down through these mountains, scouring its way
through mighty gorges and caverns. When the rain has stopped
and the water drained away, then men go in search of diamonds
through these gorges from which the water has come, and they
find plenty. In summer, when there is not a drop of water to be
found then the diamonds are found among the mountains.
Then in a more fanciful mood he records
Another means by which they get diamonds is this. When the eagles
eat the flesh, they also eat—that is they swallow—the diamonds.
Then at night when the eagle comes back, it deposits the diamonds
it has swallowed with its droppings. So men come and collect these
droppings, and there they find diamonds in plenty.... You must
know that in the entire world diamonds are found nowhere else
except this kingdom alone.
– RONALD LATHAM
Marco Polo: the Traveller
CRAFT TRADITIONS OF INDIA: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE 18
INDIA AS A TEXTILE PRODUCTION HUB
“Everyone from the Cape of Good Hope (in Africa) to
China, man and woman is clothed from head to foot, in
the products of Indian looms,” is how a Portuguese
traveller put it. India was, till the advent of colonialism,
the largest exporter of textiles in the world.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was
trade in textiles and in spices, essential for preserving
meat when refrigeration did not exist, that initially
brought European traders to India. A triangular trade
developed with Britain transporting slaves from Africa
to the Americas, to make enough profit and to get the
bullion necessary for the purchase of Indian
manufacture.
The adoption and rate of increase in the consumption of Indian textiles
in the Western world during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
was one of those astonishing processes of diffusion which is
comparable to the discovery and spread of tobacco, potato, coffee or
tea.
– K.N. CHAUDHURI
With the founding of the British East India Company
in 1599, the English, and later the Dutch and the
French, started exporting Indian textiles to London, for
18
Page 5


WHEN you see the wonderful displays in the crafts
museums of India you will not be surprised to learn
that crafts formed a major part of our exports throughout
history. In fact, India’s crafts communities produced
such fine and artistic objects that merchants travelled
from far to acquire these goods. Seventeenth century
courtly patronage, trade, the jajmani system and the
demand for everyday utility crafts by the rural population
(until the second half of the seventeenth century),
resulted in a steady home market and a worldwide
reputation for Indian crafts.
COLONIAL RULE AND CRAFTS 2
Tavernier, a French traveller in Mughal India, states that the
Ambassador of the Shah of Persia (CE 1628–1641), on his return
from India, presented his master with a coconut shell, set with
jewels, containing a muslin turban thirty yards in length, so
exquisitely fine that it could scarcely be felt by the touch.
TRADE
India has had a long history of trade in craft with other
countries beginning from the Harappan Civilisation 5000
years ago. Over the centuries,
trade with Greece and Rome grew
and historical evidence can be
found in literature and
archaeological excavations.
Flourishing trade led to overland
routes like the Silk Route and
brought silk from China through
Asia into Europe. There are
accounts of caravans, and
CRAFT TRADITIONS OF INDIA: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE 16
traders speaking different languages, meeting at trading
stations along the route. Ship-building centres and ports
developed along India’s long coastline. Sea routes to
the Mediterranean countries, Sri Lanka, Myanmar,
South-east Asia and China are mentioned both in
Sangam literature and foreign accounts.
By the time of the Mauryan empire (300 BCE) traders
and craftsmen groups, who had become wealthy and
powerful through trade, were able to donate
substantially for the building of Buddhist monasteries.
There were carpenters and blacksmiths, jewellers and
goldsmiths, weavers and dyers, perfumers and stone
carvers among others. Constant trade with the Middle
East and South-east Asia was already an important
cornerstone of the economy.
In the area of textiles, to South-east Asia we exported
sarongs, to the Middle East went the finest and most
expensive muslins, to West Africa went Christian altar
fronts, to Europe silk and woollen fabrics, dress
 17
COLONIAL RULE AND CRAFTS
materials and bed-hangings. All these fabrics were
considered ‘luxury goods’ in these countries.
The pattern of trade from the Coromandel Coast was
triangular. Arabs carried gold and silver (bullion) to the
Coromandel Coast, exchanged these for textiles, and
then exchanged the latter in Malaysia for spices, with
which they returned to the Middle East.
Throughout the ancient and medieval periods the fame
of Indian cotton textiles, gems and jewels, and spices
like pepper and cardamom, ivory and sandalwood
continued to make trade a lucrative business. Gems
like pearls, and precious stones like diamonds gave to
India the reputation of a fabled land of riches and
natural resources. This reputation of being a land of
riches and extraordinary skills, tempted traders from
Europe, who were willing to go to war, and to risk their
lives in order to get a share of the profit from Indian
trade.
Marco Polo’s (1254–1324) account of his travels to the East makes a
reference to Golconda, now in Andhra Pradesh.
This kingdom produces diamonds. Let me tell you how they are
got. You must know that in the kingdom there are many mountains
in which diamonds are found, as you will hear. When it rains the
water rushes down through these mountains, scouring its way
through mighty gorges and caverns. When the rain has stopped
and the water drained away, then men go in search of diamonds
through these gorges from which the water has come, and they
find plenty. In summer, when there is not a drop of water to be
found then the diamonds are found among the mountains.
Then in a more fanciful mood he records
Another means by which they get diamonds is this. When the eagles
eat the flesh, they also eat—that is they swallow—the diamonds.
Then at night when the eagle comes back, it deposits the diamonds
it has swallowed with its droppings. So men come and collect these
droppings, and there they find diamonds in plenty.... You must
know that in the entire world diamonds are found nowhere else
except this kingdom alone.
– RONALD LATHAM
Marco Polo: the Traveller
CRAFT TRADITIONS OF INDIA: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE 18
INDIA AS A TEXTILE PRODUCTION HUB
“Everyone from the Cape of Good Hope (in Africa) to
China, man and woman is clothed from head to foot, in
the products of Indian looms,” is how a Portuguese
traveller put it. India was, till the advent of colonialism,
the largest exporter of textiles in the world.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was
trade in textiles and in spices, essential for preserving
meat when refrigeration did not exist, that initially
brought European traders to India. A triangular trade
developed with Britain transporting slaves from Africa
to the Americas, to make enough profit and to get the
bullion necessary for the purchase of Indian
manufacture.
The adoption and rate of increase in the consumption of Indian textiles
in the Western world during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
was one of those astonishing processes of diffusion which is
comparable to the discovery and spread of tobacco, potato, coffee or
tea.
– K.N. CHAUDHURI
With the founding of the British East India Company
in 1599, the English, and later the Dutch and the
French, started exporting Indian textiles to London, for
18 19
COLONIAL RULE AND CRAFTS
re-export to the eastern Mediterranean. Very quickly,
they realised the huge market for these textiles whose
colours were permanent (i.e., they did not run). In Europe
at the time, the techniques of ‘fixing’ dyes were unknown
to craftsmen who applied coloured pigments to the
textile, which ran or flaked off when the fabric was
washed.
By 1625 a revolution in taste began in England. Most
imported Indian textiles were used to decorate beds,
the most precious item of household furniture. People
were attracted by the bright colours and new floral
patterns, which did not exist in European fabrics.  From
the second half of the seventeenth century, the demand
for Indian chintz increased in England, France and the
Netherlands.
Astute merchants realised they could reach an even
bigger market by commissioning special designs. The
East India Company therefore selected and guided the
making of the palempore—the branched tree which
became the famous tree-of-life design. Imitation
Kashmiri shawls even began to be woven in England.
FACTORIES AND TRADE
Simultaneously in the seventeenth century the British
East India Company and other trading companies from
France and Holland established factories and new
townships around the Indian coastline, where goods
created specifically for the export market were stored.
To produce these goods there was an increasing
concentration and localisation, and a large-scale
migration of crafts communities. Urban centres and
coastal towns attracted craftsmen as a number of
affluent consumers and a vast export market could be
accessed from here.
By the nineteenth century several age-old crafts
began to undergo change: the traditional patua artists
of Orissa and Bengal picked up the skill of woodcut,
block printing and created what we now called Kalighat
Art, that the rich zamindars in rural Bengal
patronised—while the markets of Varanasi specialised
increasingly in brocades for the noveau riche of Awadh
and Bengal.
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