>> Akkasaliga (Goldsmithy)
1.0 Craft Identity
1.1 Name of Craft: Goldsmithy
1.2 Vernacular equivalent: Akkasaliga
1.3 Craft description: Gold jewellery and ornamentation form a large part of the history and culture of Southern India. The Akkasaliga, or goldsmith, is traditionally responsible for handcrafting gold into different products.
2.0 Locations (within study area):
Bukkasagara, Kamalapur, Ramasagara, Gollarahalli
3.0 Historical overview
Akkasaliga represents the limb of the Vishwakarma clan that represents Tvashtar, or air.
In 1885, there was a criminal case filed against a goldsmith for performing abhishekam (a ceremony where coconut water is poured over a deity) over the lingam in a temple, because he was not a brahmin. He was turned out of the temple and Rs. 10 spent on the purification of the idol, although he was the one who made the idol in the first place. He was not convicted by the court, although he was forbidden from entering the temple again (Thurston, 1901: 144).
Community history – Vishwakarma and Vishwa Brāhman are synonyms for Kammālan, the members of which class claim descent from the five faces of Vishwakarma, the architect of the gods. Some sources consider them five sons of Vishwakarma i.e.
Manu – Smithy
Maya – Carpentry
Silpa – Stoneworks
Tvashtra – Metalworks and
Daivagna/ Visvagnas – Jewellery
The word Kammalan itself originates from Kannālan, denoting the one who rules the eye. This is with reference to the craftsmen for they make articles that please the viewer and thus help open his inner eye. The Kammalans in some cases believe themselves to be superior to the Brahmins and generally worship an aspect of Lord Siva and female deity whose name varies with geographical location. [Thurston, Edgar and Rangachari K. Castes and Tribes of Southern India, Government Press, Madras: 1909 (Ed. 2001)]
4.0 Works Process
4.1 Seasonality: There is a rise in demand during the wedding season.
4.2: Materials and their origins: Gold is either bought from the Hospet market or extracted from old jewellery.
4.3 Tools: Traditional copper moulds are used alongside mechanised blowers. Historically goldsmiths blew into the forge themselves.
4.4 Work Pattern: Work is accepted on individual orders.
4.5 Products: Gold jewellery and ornaments for temple idols and people.
4.6 Pricing range: Depends on the cost of gold in the market.
5.0 Crafts-person’s perspective
Goldsmithy is painstaking work and it was the belief of the Akkasaliga interviewed that the young generation today does not have the stamina or lung power to blow into the forges as their ancestors once did.
6.0 Lister’s comments
6.1 Uniqueness : The gold used is usually melted down from old jewellery that the clients themselves bring to the smithy. If they want to make brand new articles, they pay the goldsmith money for the metal that he will then purchase from the market. Prices are erratic and depend entirely on the cost of gold in the market.
6.2 Socio-economic data based on field interviews: Most individuals interviewed fell under the BPL category, suggesting a low socio-economic background. They also tended to belong to the Scheduled Castes and backward sections of society