Traders and Craftspersons
Q36. What was the role of a samanta or a zamindar?
a samanta or, in later times, a zamindar built a fortified palace in or near
these towns. They levied taxes on traders, artisans and articles of trade and sometimes
“donated” the “right” to collect these taxes to local temples, which had been
built by themselves or by rich merchants. These “rights” were recorded in
inscriptions that have survived to this day.
Q37. What would a traveller visiting a medieval town expect to
This would depend on what kind of a town it was – a temple town, an
administrative centre, a commercial town or a port town to name just some
possibilities. In fact, many towns combined several functions – they were
administrative centres, temple towns, as well as centres of commercial activities
and craft production.
Q38. How did the system of advances snatch the freedom of the
Indian textile designs became increasingly refined. However, this period also
saw the decline of the independence of craftspersons. They now began to work on
a system of advances which meant that they had to weave cloth which was already
promised to European agents. Weavers no longer had the liberty of selling their
own cloth or weaving their own patterns. They had to reproduce the designs supplied
to them by the Company agents.
Q39. What were the reasons for the decline of Surat?
However, Surat began to decline towards the end of the seventeenth century.
This was because of many factors:
The loss of markets and productivity
the decline of the Mughal Empire.
Control of the sea routes by the Portuguese
and competition from Bombay (present-day Mumbai) where the English East India
Company shifted its headquarters in 1668.
Q40. How important were craftspersons for the building and
maintenance of temples?
were important for the building and maintenance of temples:
The Panchalas or Vishwakarma community, consisting of
goldsmiths, bronzesmiths, blacksmiths, masons and carpenters, were essential to
the building of temples.
Similarly, weavers such as the Saliyar or
Kaikkolars emerged as prosperous communities, making donations to temples.
Q41. Write a note on taxes on market in 10th century.
There were taxes in kind on:
and jaggery, dyes, thread, and cotton,
coconuts, salt, areca nuts, butter, sesame oil,
there were taxes on traders, on those who sold metal goods, on distillers, on
oil, on cattle fodder, and on loads of grain. Some of these taxes were
collected in kind, while others were collected in cash.
Q42. Why do you think towns grew around temples?
built temples to demonstrate their devotion to various deities. They also
endowed temples with grants of land and money to carry out elaborate rituals,
feed pilgrims and priests and celebrate festivals. Pilgrims who flocked to the
temples also made donations. Temple authorities used their wealth to finance trade
and banking. Gradually a large number of priests, workers, artisans, traders,
etc. settled near the temple to cater to its needs and those of the pilgrims.
Thus grew temple towns.
Q43. Pilgrimage centres also slowly developed into townships.
centres also slowly developed into townships. Vrindavan (Uttar Pradesh) and Tiruvannamalai
(Tamil Nadu) are examples of two such towns. Ajmer (Rajasthan) was the capital
of the Chauhan kings in the twelfth century and later became the suba headquarters
under the Mughals. It provides an excellent example of religious coexistence.
Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti, the celebrated Sufi saint who settled there
in the twelfth century, attracted devotees from all creeds. Near Ajmer is a
lake, Pushkar, which has attracted pilgrims from ancient times.