‘The Indian craftsman conceives of his art, not as the accumulated skill of ages, but as originating in the divine skill of Vishwakarma and revealed by him’, wrote Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy, in his book The Indian Craftsman. For the traditional Indian craftsman, crafts and worship have a symbiotic relationship. Vishwakarma is both God and man, the divine architect of the Gods and the God of craftsmen, worshipped by all the artisanal communities, across the country. He is both signifier and signified. Vishwakarma is ‘the sum total of consciousness, the group soul of individual craftsmen of all times and places’ and simultaneously a community of craftsmen living their everyday lives—crafting icons and building monumental structures, while struggling to eke out a living as artisans. This volume on the conception and perceived realities of the Vishwakarma seeks to explore the hermeneutics of ‘Vishwakarma’ and to document a rich tapestry of images as well as historical information regarding crafts and craftsmen through the ages.
About the Author
Vijaya Ramaswamy formerly Professor at the Centre for Historical Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, is the author of The Song of the Loom: Weaver Folk Traditions (2013), The Historical Dictionary of the Tamils (2007, 2nd edition 2017), and Textiles and Weavers in South Indian History (1985, 2nd edition 2006). Her book Walking Naked: Women, Society, Spirituality in South India (1997, second 2nd edition 2007) won her the Best Woman Historian Award in 2000. She is currently a Tagore Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla.