>> Rathashilpi (Chariot-Making)
1.0 Craft Identity
1.1 Name of Craft: Chariot Making
1.2 Vernacular equivalent: Rathashilpi
1.3 Craft description: A few villages house carpenters specialized in the making of wooden idols, temple-chariots and other religious paraphernalia. Large wooden structures in the form of chariots continue to be made for processions.
2.0 Locations (within study area): Gangavathi, Ramasagara
3.0 Historical overview
Mythologies across civilizations contain references to the chariot as being a mode of conveyance for the celestial and divine. The Ratha, or Chariot, a vāhana, forms an important aspect of the religious tradition of temples in Karnataka. It is the vehicle of the Gods, and carries one of the many deities within Indian tradition. Chariots in modern times are constructed to be reminiscent of this mythological past, and are built on the basis of information found in Vedic texts and Purānas (Source: Nandagopal et al: “Temple Chariots”, Temple Treasures Vol. 3, Crafts Council of Karnataka, 2002).
4.0 Work Process
4.1 Seasonality: Through the year
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: Chariots for temples.
4.6 Pricing range: A minimum of 2 lakh rupees. The most highly priced chariot the interviewee was commissioned for was Rs. 15, 00, 000 for a 27 feet high chariot.
6.0 Lister’s comments
6.1 Uniqueness: Traditional Chitragaras and Ratashipis (temple-chariot makers) hold that only certain Hindu communities can be allowed to undertake this work because of its religious and spiritual relevance. Specifically, that the craftsperson must belong to the Arya Kshatriya Chitragara community as they are serving God.
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 particular Hindu community groups.