The urban handicraft Industry of ancient Rajasthan comprised textiles, dying and calico printing, armaments, utensils, ornaments, wood-work, bangles, ivory, leather goods, perfumery and marble carving. The urban Industries were organized and essentially in the nature of handicrafts. There were no factories in the modern sense. The industries were run by skilled artisans, assisted by the members of the family and apprentices who received training under them. In every state of Rajpootana there were karkhanas (factory) owned by the government wherein expert artisans, local and outsides, were employed to manufacture quality goods to meet the fastidious taste of the aristocracy.
The cotton cloth industry was highly developed in Pali, Delwada, Sirohi and Ajmer. Sironj (Sironj was part of tonk, Rajathan but now it’s belong to Madhya Pradesh state of India) was famous for a superior quality of printed cloth with specialty that after wash they became brighter in color. Sanganer (Jaipur) was famous for cotton sarees and calico printed bed sheets. Muslin of Kota was very famous. The craftsmen of Kota spun very fine Muslin for tunic, turbans and Sarees. A superior type of velvet and phanta was manufactured at Jaipur. Pali was also famous of Muslin. Akai Mal (NAME) of Jodhpur was a specialized craftsman for the manufacture of masaru cloth. There were also local colors, in name of –
Kasooli – The saffron color dyed with the flowers of a Kasooli tree.
Kasoomb- The red color mixed with a kind of timber dust.
The town of Sangner was renowned for the tie work of Chundaries and Laheriyas. The dye and tie work, called chundri-bandej or chund
Woolen carpets, rugs, shawls and blankets were also very famous products of the woolen industry of Rajasthan. The wool of Bikaner was of superior quality and was exported to many countries. Chakmas(floor sheets), ghugis (rugs) and daris (carpet) were manufactured at Malpur in Merta and Nagour.
Metal work of Rajasthan was also very famous. Among armaments cannons, guns, swords and daggers were manufactured in several towns of Rajasthan. The cannon balls were manufactured at Kota, Jalor, Jodhpur and Udaipur. Match locks, swords and other warlike implements were fabricated at Jodhpur, Pali, Jaipur and Kota. Superb quality of swords and daggers were also manufactured in Sirohi and Bundi. The ornamental sword-handles in superb finish with granite steel were sent to various parts of India from Rajasthan. Jalore and Kota were the chief production center of Gunpowder. The craftsmen who prepared gunpowder were called Shorgirs.
Besides weapons, from utensils for domestic use were manufactured almost in every town of Rajasthan. Nagour and Pali were renowned for this type of Industry. In pali, iron boxes of fine quality were made. Iron wires for guitar of three stings were also made at Nagour. Utensils of brass, copper and bronze were also made by local craftsmen and they were known as kaseras and thateraas. The craftsmen acquired great skill in the making of utensils of silver and gold to be used by the aristocratic class.
A great variety of ornaments, plain and jeweled were manufactured throughout Rajasthan. Jaipur excellent jewelry and enamel work. To encourage this industry in Jaipur, a number of jewelers and skilled craftsmen were called from Delhi, Lahore and elsewhere. They were provided with free land to construct houses and were exempted from taxes.
The wood industry of Rajasthan was also formed an importance position. A particular caste Khati was chiefly engaged in this Industry. Sojat, Udaipur and Nagour were famous for the manufacture of high quality wooden and ivory toys. The carpenters of Jahazpur and Sawai Madhopur specialized in the manufacture of lacquered wooden articles. In Jhalra Patan the best quality of bed steeds (legs of bed) were manufactured.
The leather industry was also well developed. The artisans who were engaged in this industry, were called chamars and mochi . Numerous leather articles which were prepared by the local craftsmen such as shoes, scabbards of the swords, saddles shields, bridles, covers of books, leather buckets and oil jars. TheRaigers of qaska Man were expert in the making of high quality shields and oil jars. Leather boxes and jamdanies for holding clots were made in Jodhpur by Muslim cobblers. There was a separate market as Katla in the big towns for the manufacture and sale of the leather goods.
The ladies of all the sections of society were very fond of wearing bangles, termed as Chudda. The craftsmen, engaged in this industry, were known as lakharas and churigar. The bangles were made mainly of Lac which was imported from Multan. The bangles made of Lac were generally worn by the ladies of lower classes. The ladies of affluent families preferred bracelets or ivory, manufactured by Churigars. The churigars had to pay a tax, named CHOTHAI (means one fourth), to the government. Sometimes the churigars were exempted from the payment of this tax as it was done by the rulers of Jodhpur through a parwana (order) for the churigars of Jalore.
Perfumery industry was also developed in Rajasthan. The scents of ambar, agar, ketki, rose, kewada and sandle were prepared in Kota in profusion. Rose water from flower of roses, and oil from jasmine flowers was prepared. Kishangarh was famous for the manufacture of rose water and scents.
A large variety of articles such as bangles, bracelets, handles of swords; toys etc were manufactured throughout Rajasthan. Marwar , Nagour and Sojat were well known for the manufacture of the high quality of ivory toys of highly artistic quality resembling living ones, which were made at Nagour for the use of the royal house hold.
The chief centers of the stone industry were Makrana, Alwar, Jaipur, Jaislmer, Bikaner, Bharatpur, and Kota. Makrana was famous all over the world for its marble quarries. White marble of exquisite quality was available in abundance there. It was transported to other parts of the country in profusion. The while marble used in the TajMahal at Agra, was sent from Makrana.
Brown, pink and yellow varieties of sandstone was found in Jodhpur. In bhainslana near Kotputli black marble was available. It was mainly used for inlay work. The mines at Raila in Jaipur were famous for gray marble. Abundant lime-stone of superior quality was available in Rahori near Jaipur. Lime stone of light brown color was available in Jaislmer. It was suitable for filigree carving.
The availability of the above variety of stones led to the growth of subsidiary industries like stone-carving, sculpture, engraving and brick and lime manufactures. The royal palaces, mausoleums, temples and the havelis (Mansions) of nobles and wealthy merchants bespeak of the high architectonic craftsmanship. The sculptors of Jaipur were well known all over India for their deftness in the carving of statues.
Lot of industries is still working to maintain their rich handicraft heritage in Rajasthan with the support of government and with the entrepreneurship of local industrialist.