>> Badigathana (Carpentry)
1.0 Craft Identity
1.1 Name of Craft: Everyday Carpentry
1.2 Vernacular equivalent: Badigathana
1.3 Craft description: Badiga is the term used for carpentry in its general, everyday sense. It covers different generic aspects of wood-working, including making doors, windows and furniture. Certain specialized aspects of the trade also fall under the broad umbrella of the term Badigathana.
2.0 Locations (within survey boundary):
All villages within survey boundary have at least one resident carpenter practising this. The most commonly occurring aspect is the general craft form of carpentry: making furniture, doors and window frames.
3.0 Historical overview
Carpenters are part of the Vishwakarma community and one of the five crafts-groups associated with this community. Vishawakarma 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. The word originates from Kannālan, denoting the one who rules the eye, in reference to the craftsmen, for they make articles that please the eye, and are responsible for the opening of the inner eye of the masses. Each of the five crafts is representative of a face of Brahma that corresponds with one of the five essential elements in nature. Badiga or Carpentry represents the element of water, under the title Maya. [Thurston, Edgar and Rangachari K. Castes and Tribes of Southern India, Government Press, Madras: 1909 (Ed. 2001)]
4.0 Work Process
4.1 Seasonality: Carpenters tend to have work through the year, irrespective of seasons.
4.2: Materials and their origins: While a few procure jungle wood as raw material to work with, most carpenters are provided materials and are responsible only for the manual labour they provide.
4.3 Tools: Saws, chisels, drills, files, mattaligay (carpenter’s square), Wrench,Kodti (wooden hammer), Suttige (iron hammer).
4.4 Work Pattern: Carpenters undertake work only on order. They do not usually keep products ready for sale, but work to create customized pieces once an order is placed.
4.5 Products: Door frames, window frames, household furniture such as tables, chairs, showcases and cots.
4.6 Pricing range: Upwards of Rs. 1000, depending on the kind of work commissioned. While manual labour charges run into a few thousands, a single teak wood door can cost as much as Rs 25,000.
5.0 Crafts-person’s perspective
Easy access to ready-made furniture is reducing the scope for their trade. Customers are unwilling to pay as much for their work as they do for readymade, finished products, and thus their profits are meager. Carpenters are switching to more profitable careers.
6.0 Lister’s comments
6.1 Uniqueness: The wood used to create furniture is often sourced by chopping down trees in farmers’ fields. Unlike urban carpenters who tend to work with ready-made planks of wood, the carpenter himself undertakes the work of cutting down and stripping bark, and sawing his own planks. The number of trees around are declining steadily, and it is becoming difficult to get hold of good quality wood. There is also an understanding between different groups that allows for division of labour; while some chop wood, others work with the wood to turn it into products for sale.
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 Schedule Castes and backward sections of society. Certain subsections of the craft associated with temples and religious idols tend to be reserved only for members of particular Hindu communities.