Some of the functionalities will not work if javascript off. Please enable Javascript for it.

The Nehru Memorial Museum & Library


‘In Search of Viswakarma: Mapping Indian craft history – Inter-regional perspectives’, Conference 15-16 October, 2014.

Concept Note:

“The Indian Craftsman conceives of his art, not as the accumulated skill of ages but as originating in the divine skill of Viswakarma and revealed by him…”

(Anand K.Coomaraswamy: The Indian Craftsman:1909:47)

It is only in the last four decades that the mapping of everyday lives and everyday histories has become a significant work domain for the Indian academia. Although significant strides have been made to looking at the peasant in Indian history, other areas still constitute virgin terrain. Research focusing exclusively on the history of crafts and artisanal communities are few and far between. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya’s and Pupul Jayakar’s writings on the Indian craftspersons were pioneering works in the difficult talk of writing the history of crafts and craftsmen. Jamila Brijbhushan did much to record the work of metal smiths resulting in her monograph Indian Metalware published by the Indian Handicrafts Board in 1961. Jaya Jaitley has been an activist in this field and her book Children of Viswakarma puts together moving accounts of what it is like to be a craftsperson in India today. Following in their footsteps, younger scholars began to study the early histories of the Viswakarma in different regions. Jan Brouwer’s book The Makers of the World: Caste, Craft and Mind of South Indian Artisans’ published in 1995 was one such effort although this was written from the perspective of a Sociologist. Meera Mukherji’s writings in the context of Bengal are very known
The present two-day seminar seeks to bring together histories of crafts from Pre-colonial to Early-colonial India written from regional perspectives. Although one could think of the inclusion of a few scholars from outside India, the aim is to bring together scholars from various regional centres who have mastery over the inscriptional and literary sources available in their region/sub-region. Therefore the presence of metropolitan scholars will be less marked in a conference of the present sort which seeks to understand subaltern histories through the voice of scholars who are best equipped to study craft histories.

Programme Schedule:                 Wednesday, 15 October, 2014

9.00 a.m. – 9.05 a.m.
Welcome address:
Prof. Mahesh Rangarajan,
9.05 a.m. – 9.15 a.m.
Prof. Vijaya Ramaswamy,
9.15 a.m. – 10.45 a.m. Session 1
Inaugural Address and Chair: Ms. Jaya Jaitley,
Dastkari Haat Samiti,
New Delhi.
Speaker: Prof. Jan Brouwer,
Formerly at Mysore University,
‘Dynamics of Diversity and Inclusion: The case of the Viswakarmas’
10.45 a.m.-11.00 a.m. Tea/Coffee
11:00 a.m.-11.45 a.m. Session 1 (Contd.)
Chair: Ms. Jaya Jaitley,
Dastkaari Haat Samiti,
New Delhi.
Speaker: Prof. R. N. Misra,
Indian Institute of Advanced Study,
‘Overview of Viswakarma Craftsmen in Ancient North India’
11.45 a.m.-12.00 p.m. Tea/Coffee
12.00 p.m.- 1.30 p.m. Session 2
Chair: Prof. Harbans Mukhia,
Jawaharlal Nehru University,
New Delhi
Speakers: Prof. Pushpa Prasad,
Formerly at Aligarh Muslim University,
‘Artisans During the Sultanate Period: An epigraphical study’

Dr. Ali Nadeem Rezavi,
Aligarh Muslim University,
‘Mughal Artisans at Work and at Home’
1.30 p.m.- 2.15 p.m. Lunch
2.15 p.m. – 3.15 p.m. Session 3
Chair: Prof. Nandakumar,
Speaker: Dr. Vasudha Pande,
‘Metal-Working Traditions in the Central Himalayas’
3.15 p.m. – 3.30 p.m. Tea/Coffee
                                            Thursday, 16 October 2014
9.00 a.m.-10.30 a.m. Session 4
Chair: Prof. R. N. Misra,
Indian Institute of Advanced Study,
Speakers: Prof. Subbarayalu,
French Institute of Pondicherry,
‘The Place of the Kanmalas in the Agrarian Society of Medieval South India, c. 600-1300’

Prof. Vijaya Ramaswamy,
‘Casting the Viswakarma in Medieval Peninsular India’
10.30 a.m.- 10.50 a.m. Tea/Coffee
 10.50 a.m. – 12.20 p.m. Session 5
Chair: Prof. Subbarayalu,
French Institute of Pondicherry,
Speakers: Dr. Nagendra Rao,
Goa University,
‘Mobility and Identity: A study of Viswakarma Panchalas of Karnataka’

Prof. Lakshmi Thirumalai,
Formerly at Osmania University,
‘Community Net Working of Panchanamuvaru: The smiths and sculptors of pre-colonial Andhra’
12.20 p.m. – 12.30 p.m. Break
12.30 p.m. – 1.30 p.m. Concluding Session
Chair: Prof. Vijaya Ramaswamy,
Speakers: Ms. Anna Varghese,
Jawaharlal Nehru University,
New Delhi.
‘Aińkudi Kammālar: Reflections on the temple craftsmen and beyond from medieval Keralam’
1.30 pm: Lunch

Conference ends with lunch.

Photo Collections
Event Photographs


Back to Top