Study Material and Notes of Ch 6 Weavers, Iron Smelters and Factory Owners Class 8th History


• The chapter tells the story of the crafts and industries of India during British rule by focusing on two industries:
→ Textiles 
→ Iron and steel.

Indian Textiles and the World Market

• Around 1750, India was by far the world’s largest producer of cotton textiles.

• Indian textiles had long been renowned both for their fine quality and exquisite craftsmanship.

• They were extensively traded in Southeast Asia and West and Central Asia.

• From the sixteenth century, European trading companies began buying Indian textiles for sale in Europe.

Words tell us histories

• European traders first encountered fine cotton cloth from India carried by Arab merchants in Mosul in present-day Iraq.
→ They began referring all finely woven textiles as “muslin” – a word that acquired wide currency.

• The cotton textiles which Portuguese took back to Europe, along with the spices, came to be called “calico” which became the general name for all cotton textiles.

• In 1730, English East India Company sent to its representatives in Calcutta to order a variety of cloth pieces in bulk.
→ Amongst the pieces ordered in bulk were printed cotton cloths called chintz, cossaes (or khassa) and bandanna.
→ Chintz is derived from the Hindi word chhint, a cloth with small and colourful flowery designs.
→ The word bandanna term is derived from the word “bandhna” refers to any brightly coloured and printed scarf for the neck or head.

• The printed cotton cloths called chintz, cossaes (or khassa) and bandanna.

• There were other cloths in the order book that were noted by their place of origin such as Kasimbazar, Patna, Calcutta, Orissa, Charpoore.

Indian textiles in European markets

• By the early eighteenth century, worried by the popularity of Indian textiles, wool and silk makers in England began protesting against the import of Indian cotton textiles.

• In 1720, the Calico Act was introduced in England which banned the use of printed cotton textiles – chintz.

• Competition with Indian textiles led to a search for technological innovation in England.
→ In 1764, the spinning jenny was invented by John Kaye which increased the productivity of the traditional spindles.
→ In 1786, steam engine was invented by Richard Arkwright which revolutionised cotton textile weaving.

• European trading companies – the Dutch, the French and the English – made large profits through textile trade with India.

• These companies purchased cotton and silk textiles in India by importing silver.

• When the English East India Company gained political power in Bengal, they used revenues from peasants and zamindars in India to buy Indian textiles.

Who were the weavers?

• Weavers often belonged to communities that specialised in weaving.

• Their skills were passed on from one generation to the next.

• Some communities famous for weaving:
→ tanti weavers of Bengal, the julahas or momin weavers of north India.
→ sale and kaikollar and devangs of south India.

• The first stage of production was spinning done mostly by women in which charkha and the takli were used.

• After weaving, spinning was done mostly by men.

• For coloured textiles, the thread was dyed by the dyer, known as rangrez.

• For printed cloth the weavers needed the help of specialist block printers known as chhipigars.

The decline of Indian textiles

• The development of cotton industries in Britain affected textile producers in India in several ways: → Indian textiles now had to compete with British textiles in the European and American markets.
→ Exporting textiles to England also became increasingly difficult since very high duties were imposed on Indian textiles imported into Britain.

• By the beginning of the nineteenth century, English-made cotton textiles successfully displaced Indian goods from their traditional markets in Africa, America and Europe.

• By the 1830s, British cotton cloth flooded Indian markets.

• Some types of cloths could not be supplied by machines thus handloom weaving did not completely die in India.

• Later, during the national movement, Mahatma Gandhi urged people to boycott imported textiles and use hand-spun and hand-woven cloth.
→ Khadi gradually became a symbol of nationalism.

• Many weavers became agricultural labourers.
→ Some migrated to cities in search of work, and others went out of the country to work in plantations in Africa and South America.
→ Some handloom weavers also found work in the new cotton mills that were established in Bombay, Ahmedabad, Sholapur, Nagpur and Kanpur.

Cotton mills come up

• The first cotton mill in India was set up as a spinning mill in Bombay in 1854.

• From the early nineteenth century, Bombay had grown as an important port for the export of raw cotton from India to England and China.
→ By 1900, over 84 mills started operating in Bombay.

• The first mill in Ahmedabad was started in 1861.

• Growth of cotton mills led to a demand for labour.
→ Thousands of poor peasants, artisans and agricultural labourers moved to the cities to work in the mills.

• The textile factory industry in India faced many problems.
→ It found it difficult to compete with the cheap textiles imported from Britain.

• The colonial government in India usually refused to protect the local industries.

• During the First World War, textile imports from Britain declined and Indian factories were called upon to produce cloth for military supplies which increased the development of cotton factory production in India.

The sword of Tipu Sultan and Wootz steel

• Tipu Sultan who ruled Mysore till 1799 had sword made up of a special type of high carbon steel called Wootz which was produced all over south India.

• Wootz steel when made into swords produced a very sharp edge with a flowing water pattern.

• Wootz steel was produced in many hundreds of smelting furnaces in Mysore.

• Indian Wootz steel fascinated European scientists.
→ Michael Faraday, the legendary scientist and discoverer of electricity and electromagnetism, spent four years studying the properties of Indian Wootz (1818-22).

• The Wootz steel making process, which was so widely known in south India, was completely lost by the mid-nineteenth century.

• The swords and armour making industry died with the conquest of India by the British and imports
of iron and steel from England displaced the iron and steel produced by craftspeople in India.

Abandoned furnaces in villages

• Iron smelting in India was extremely common till the end of the nineteenth century.

• The furnaces were most often built of clay and sun-dried bricks. The smelting was done by men while women

• By the late nineteenth century, however, the craft of iron smelting was in decline.

This was because:

• New forest laws enacted by the colonial government prevented people from entering the reserved forests, which reduced the supply of charcoal.

• By the late nineteenth century iron and steel was being imported from Britain.
→ Ironsmiths in India began using the imported iron to manufacture utensils and implements.

• By the early twentieth century, the artisans producing iron and steel faced a new competition as new iron and steel factories come up in India.

Iron and steel factories come up in India

• In the year 1904, Charles Weld and Dorabji Tata explored the hill pointed out by the Agarias people and found one of the finest iron ores in the world.
→ Rajhara Hills had one of the finest ores in the world.

• A few years later a large area of forest was cleared on the banks of the river Subarnarekha to set up the factory and an industrial township – Jamshedpur.

• The Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO) that came up began producing steel in 1912.

• In 1914, when the First World War broke out imports of British steel into India declined dramatically and the Indian Railways turned to TISCO for supply of rails.

• By 1919 the colonial government was buying 90 per cent of the steel manufactured by TISCO.

• Over time TISCO became the biggest steel industry within the British empire.

NCERT Solutions of Chapter 7 Weavers, Iron Smelters and Factory Owners

Previous Post Next Post