MISCELLANEOUS OCCUPATIONS

GOLDSMITHY

It is the hereditary occupation of the Sonars, a caste among Hindus. The rise and prosperity of the Sonars is attributed to the frantic craze for ornaments among practically all sections of the community-

The Khandesh District Gazetteer of 1880 has to say the following about Sonars :

"Sonars, holding the highest place among Khandesh Craftsmen and believed to have come from upper India or Malwa, are found throughout the district. They are of two sub-divisions, Ahir Sonars and Vaishya or Jain Sonars. They are clever and hard-working. Besides making and repairing gold and silver ornaments, they set gems and work in precious stones, and the poor prepare copper and brass ornaments for sale to the women of lower classes. Besides working as jewellers, some are cultivators, others masons and a few are labourers. Some deal in grain and lend money and a few who have received education are employed as Government servants. Those who work as goldsmiths earn according to their skill from d. to 6 d. ( anna to 4 annas) for every rupee weight of gold.".

As per the 1961 Census, the number of persons engaged in this occupation is 1,274, of which 15 are female workers. There are no silversmiths as such in the district. Sonars themselves make the silver ornaments too.

There exists another class of people who deal in gold and silver. They are known as Sarafs who are loosely identified with goldsmiths. However, they do not make gold ornaments, but sell and accept on mortgage ornaments of precious metals. In olden days, this business was done by goldsmiths.

A Goldsmith requires a variety of materials for moulding and preparation of ornaments. They are morchud, mercury, tejab, sora, lac, navasagar, tankankhar, etc. The total expenditure on them varies front shop to shop. With the exclusion of gold and silver it is found to be ranging between Rs. 35 and Rs. 50 per month.

An anvil, a pair of hammers, pinches, sawani and scissors constitute his tools. Besides, every goldsmith has a safe to keep gold and silver, and one or more show eases to display the prepared ornaments. The whole set, including a safe and show-cases, costs him between Rs. 600 and Rs. 1,000.

Almost all the units surveyed are of hereditary nature and the question of initial capital investment does not figure. Much of the business is effected on cash basis. Borrowing is hardly resorted to.

As the occupation is hereditary, a goldsmith, generally, inherits the skill and craftsmanship from his forefathers. Outside artisans are hardly employed. However, during marriage seasons and festivals which inevitably result in unusual rush of clientele, he does hire the services of other artisans. A hired artisan is paid wages on a piece rate basis which depend upon the skill and craftsmanship involved in the job entrusted to him.

The income of a goldsmith is derived from the charges he receives for the services he renders. The making of new ornaments as also the repairing of old ones is undertaken. A goldsmith makes and repairs a variety of ornaments, such as. kamarpatta, chinchpeti, bormal, chandrahar, galsar, thusi, goth, tode, etc. The change in fashions seems to have made its impact on the design of ornaments. New patterns of ornaments such as bakulhar, lappha, pohehar, zanak-zanakar, etc. have become more popular- The charges of making them have also gone up. Generally, a goldsmith earns an income ranging from Rs. 200 to Rs. 400 per month.

The Gold Control Rules promulgated under the Defence of India Act, which came into force on 10th January 1963, affected the business adversely. Under these rules, the manufacture of new ornaments of gold with a purity of more than 14 carats is prohibited. It has not only affected the business of the goldsmiths but also has thrown a number of them out of employment. Consequently, gold-smiths have been taking to new occupations. The government is however taking steps to rehabilitate them by providing numerous facilities. The recent amendment in the rules makes provision for the remaking of existing gold ornaments.

 

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