In the arts and crafts there was a unique development. After going through the enumeration of 64 Kalas given by Sukracharya, Chop. VI Sec. III. One can hardly believe that the Hindus were a race of abstract metaphysicians who were negligent of the actual needs of society and cultivated the art of preparing for the next life only. He would rather think that they knew how to enjoy life and supply its necessaries, comforts and decencies.

The more important of the Kalas or mentioned below—dancing (l. 133), playing on musical instruments (l. 134), decorations (l. 35), anties (l. 36), jugglery, magic, etc. (ll. 135-39) distillation of wines and spiritual liquors from flowers etc., (ll. 141) cooking,(l.  143) confectionery (l. 146), pharmaceutical preparations (l. 147), analysis and synthesis of metals (l. 148), alloys (l. 149), salt industry (l. 150), polishing stone, wood and metal vessels (ll. 167-68), watch and clock industry (l. 170), dying (l. 171), rope industry (l. 174), weaving (l. 175) preparation of artificial gold and gems (l. 178), enameling of metals (l. 179), tailoring (l. 183), oil industry, i.e., extracting oil from seeds and fats (l. 187), [Fa Hien also speaks of oil of cinnamon used in a funeral ceremony] cane industry (l. 90), glass industry (l. 191), iron implements and tools (i. 193), nursing (i. 195) pumping and withdrawing of water (l. 129). Leather industry was known in its two processes —the flaying of the skin (l. 181) and the softening of the hide or tanning (l. 180).

In another passage Sukra enumerates a large number of arts and crafts. Says he —Among the King’s servants and attendants there should be musicians, poets, guards of honour, artisan artists, fools, ventriloquists, dancers and harlequins, (II. 390s,-92) those who construct parks, artificial forests and pleasure-gardens, builders of forts, gunners (II. 393-94) those who make lighter machines, gun-powder, arrows cannon balls and swords and construct various tools and implements, arms, weapons, bows, quivers etc. (II. 395-96); those who prepare ornaments of gold’s, jewels etc., builders of chariots, stone-cutters, block-smiths and those who enamel metals, (II. 297-98) potters, copper smiths, carpenters, road-mares barbers, washers, and those who carry nightsoil (II. 399-400), messengers, tailors, add bearers of royal emblems  and ensigns (I. 401), weavers, those who prepare fragrant resins, sailors, miners, fowlers and repairers of implements (II. 404-405).

Sukra also refers to horse-brush which is an instrument with seven sharp teeth to be used in cleansing (or rubbing) these animals (horses, bulls, camels Sec.) [Ch. IV. Sec. 7.1. 346]. As regards the liquor industry which was a Government monopoly it was laid down that The King should build the Ganja house outside the village and there keep the drunkards and should never allow drinking of liquor in his kingdom in day time (Ch. IV. Sec. II. 4.89-90). All the mines belonged to the King.


As regards the royalty on mines it was laid down that the King should daily receive (as duty) from the sales of silver 1/5 th, 1/4th, 1/3 rd or 1/2 and not more (II. 643.44). According to Sukra royalties on mines constitute non-territorial income (II. 671-72). The weaving of cotton, silk and wool was also carried on in this period. Fa Hien speaks of “fine white linen painted with gaudy colours. Sukracharya (Ch. I. SL. 180) not only refers to silk and -woolen goods but also gives the method of cleansing them.

Yajnabalkya speaks of paper made of cotton etc. pearl fishery was undoubtedly a very flourishing industry in this period. According to Garuda Purana it was carried on throughout the Indian Ocean as far as the Persian Gulf. Garuda Purana, Part 1 of Chapter 68 discusses corals and pearls while Chapter 69 discusses the pearls born of oysters and describes the pearls of the Palk Strait and of the Persian Gulf. The Baraha Purana also relates how a merchant embarked on a voyage in quest of pearls.

According to Sukracharya pearls grow in fishes, suakes, conches, hogs bawboos, duds and shells. Of these the greatest amount is said to come from shells (Sukranitisara Ch. (V. Sec. 2, lines 117-18). The people of Ceylon could make artificial pearls like these (Ibid. d. Ch. IV. Sec. 2. I. 124). Fa Hien says “Ceylon and the adjoining islands produce pearls and precious stones and the Mani-gem is also found in a district where the King placed a guard and claimed as royal share three out of every ten” (Beal. LXXII). Jewellery was also in a highly developed condition.

The classic drama of the Little Clay Cart speaks of “golden stairways inlaid with all sorts of gems” and of “crystal windows from which are hanging strings of pearls.” Again “the arches set with sapphires look as though they were the home of the rain-bow.” The Garuda Purana (Part I. Ch. Chapter 72) mentions the blue stones found on the sea- coast of Ceylon while Chapters 77 and 79 describe various precious stones of Yavaua, China and other lands. Chapter 80 mentions the Bidrume (a stone) of Remaka (Rome). In the Little Clay Card there is also mention of “the high ivory portals of a courtesan’s house.


The Gupta artists and craftsmen were no less capable in the working of metals. Sutra enumerates the metals in order of their value, thus—gold, silver, copper, zine, tin and iron. Bronze is the alloy of zinc and copper, brass of copper and tin (Ch. IV Sea. 2. II. 173-176) of these the iron industry reached the high point of development. The Iron pillar of Chandragupta II (415 AD) at Delhi situated near the Kutb-Minar is 22 feet high with a diameter of 16’4 inches.

According to the analysis of Sir Robert Hadfield the pillar contains the following:

From this it is apparent that the pillar is made of pure wrought iron with no mixture of manganese. Roscoe and Schorlemmer have rightly observed “It is not an easy operation at the present day to forge such a mass with our largest rolls and steam-hammers; how this could be effected by the rude hand-labour of the Hindus, we are at a loss to understand.”


Ferguesson has remarked, “Taking 400 as a mean date and it certainly is not far from the truth, it opens our eyes to an unsuspected state of affairs to find the Hindus at that age capable of forging a bar of iron longer than any that have been forged in Europe upto a very late date and not frequently even now.”

There is a still larger iron column at Dhar (about 321 AD) over 43 feet 8 inches in length with a diamenter of 10 1/4, inches. Jahangir has written in his Memoirs “Outside the fort of Dhar there is a Jama Masjid and a square pillar lies in front of the Masjid with some portion imbedded in the ground. When Bahadur Saha conquered Malava he was anxious to take the pillar with him to Gujrat. In the act of digging out, it fell down and was broken into two pieces (one piece 22 feet long and the other 13 feet).” If joined the Dhar pillar would the highest iron pillar in the world.

It is remarkable that the Delhi pillar though fully exposed to the weather has never rusted but retains its inscriptions as clear as when it was engraved. Dr. Panchanon Niyogi remarks in his memorable work entitled “Iron in Ancient India” “two explanations are possible of this remarkable power of ancient specimens of iron resisting corrosion—either there was something in the composition of the iron or that the beams were painted or both. To the author it appears that both the facts have operated in enabling the Indian iron pillars and beams to withstand thy corroding influence of wind and rain…….. the one point remarkable regarding the composition of the Delhi iron, Sinhalese iron and other specimens of Indian iron is that all these specimens of iron are free from manganese and sulphur and contain a tolerably high percentage of phosphorus.”

That much specialisation took place in this industry will be evident the from the fact that in ancient India iron was divided into three classes—Munda, Tikshna, and Kanta. Munda in its turn was divided in to three classes—Mridu, Kunta and Karar. Tikshna was subdivided into six classes—Khara, Sara, Hrinnat, Tarabarcha Bajir and Kalalouha. Kanta was divided into five classes—Bhramak, Chumbak, Karshak, Drabak and Romakanta.

From old Sanskrit texts like Rasharatna Samuchaya and Rashendrasar Sangrah we learn that Munda, Tikshna and Kanta iron are the modern cast iron, steel and wrought iron. The Hindu Ayurveda Sastras make mention of hamatide andiron pyrite. The Hindu Medical men knew the pre­paration of Chloride of iron. Oxide of iron and Sulphide of iron (History of Hindu Chemistry by Dr. RC. Roy).

From the Yuktikalpataru we learn that swords were manufactured in Benares, Magadha, Ceylon, Nepal, Agra, Mysore, Surat and in Kalinga. The Sukranltisara also mentions the manufacture of small and large nalikas besides guns and cannon-balls already mentioned. Sivendasa in his commentary of Chakrapana quotes Patanjali as an authority on Lohasastra or the Science of Iron (History of Hindu Chemistry, Vol. I. p. 55).

The art of casting copper statutes on a large scale by the cire perdue process was practised with conspicuous success. A copper image of Buddha about 80 feet high was erected at Nalanda at the close of the 6th century. The fine Sultanganj Buddha 7 1/2 feet high (now in the Museum at Bermingham) dates from the reign of Chandgupta II. From the Yuktikalpatarn, we learn that the art of ship­building was carried by the ancient Hindus to a very high stage of development.

After pointing out that the Kshatriya kind of wood (which is light and hard cannot he joined on to other classes) as the best for ships, Bhoja an earlier authority on ship-building, points out that care should be taken that no iron is used in joining together the planks of the bottom of sea-going vessels for the iron would inevitably expose them to the influence of magnetic rocks in the sea. The author of Yuktikalpataru divides ships into two classes— special and ordinary. The special is further sub-divided into two— Dirgha and Unnata.

There are ten kinds of Dirgha ships:

Ten Kinds of Dirgha Ships

Of these ships Lola, Gamini, Plabini, Gatvara, Tari, Jangala and Dharini, Anurdhava, Garvini, and Manthara, Bhima, Bhaya and Garbhara bring ill luck. The prow of ships may admit of the shape of the’ heads of lion, tiger, elephant, buffalo, serpent, duck, peahen, parrot, frog, man etc. Ships may be decorated with gold, silver, copper, the compound of these three, pearls and garland of gold.

Again a vessel with four masts is to be painted white, that with three masts to be pointed red, that with two yellow and that with one blue. According to the position of their cabins ships are Sarbamandira Madhymandira, and Agrmnandira. Agra mandira ships are eminently fitted for long voyages and for naval warfare.

Fa Hien thus speaks of a fine piece of bamboo work carried in procession in Magadha “On this occasion they construct a four- wheeled car and erect on it a tower of five stages composed of bamboos lashed together, the whole being supported by a centre- post resembling a large spear with three Points, in height 22 feet and more. So it looks like a pagoda. They then cover it with fine white linen which they afterwards paint with gaudy colours.

Having made figures of the Devas decorated with gold, silver and glass, they place them under canopies of embroidered silk. Then at the four corners of the car they construct niches (shrines) in which they place figures of Buddha in a sitting posture with a Bodhisattva standing in attendance.

There are thus 20 cars prepared and differently decorated (Beal, LVI-LVII). Similar processions of lifelike figures painted in diverse colours took place in Ceylon. At Toli says Fa Hien a skilful carver of wood carved a wooden image of Maitreys Bodhisattva 80 feet in length.