>> Kammara (Blacksmithy)

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1.0 Craft Identity
1.1 Name of Craft: Blacksmith
1.2 Vernacular equivalent:Kammara
1.3 Craft description:The specialized art of making and repairing iron implements falls under the Kammara banner. A small section of blacksmiths restrict their trade to the creation of farming implements such as scythes and ploughs.

2.0 Locations (within study area): Kamalapura, Nagenahalli, Nallapura, Allikere, Bukkasagara, Annegundi, Prakash Nagar, Gollarahalli, Halle Mallapanagudi.

3.0 Historical overview

The Kammaras represent the Vishwakarma limb of Manu, or earth. They trace themselves back to the time of the yajamanas. Blacksmiths worship the deity Kalamma or Kalika Devi, although those belonging to the Muslim community do not follow a deity.

“Until recently the manufacture of huge shallow iron pans in which sugarcane was boiled was a considerable industry at Kamalapura. The iron bought in by pack bullocks from Jambunath Konda, the dome-shaped hill at the Hospet end of the Sandur range, and was smelted and worked by the Kammara caste. Of late years, the cheaper English iron has completely ousted the country product, the smelting industry is dead, and the Kammaras confine themselves to the making and mending of boilers with English materials. They have a temple of their own, dedicated to Kali, in the village, where worship is conducted by one of themselves” (ibid Madras Census Report, 1901).

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 Work Process
4.1 Seasonality: They have work only during the cane harvest season, just before and immediately after the Ugadi festival in the month of April.
4.2: Materials and their origins: Kabbina or iron is usually sourced by the clients.
4.3 Tools: The gannu (large hammer), kaisuthigi (small hammer), ikkala (tongs), chaana (chisel-like device) and the bulva (air pump used to circulate air) are all devices that the blacksmiths use daily.
4.4 Work Pattern : Depends on individual commissions.
4.5 Products: A few specialize in the making of agricultural implements, while others repair and create new iron implements and tools.
4.6 Pricing range: Repairing old tools fetch as little as Rs. 15, while new ones can be bought for about Rs. 200.

5.0 Crafts-Person’s perspective:

Younger generations are no longer interested in taking up the family occupation and switch to less strenuous and more profitable jobs. This craft is pretty much dead since mass produced ready made tools are easily available today.

6.0 Lister’s comments

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.

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