Sutradhar (caste)

Sutradhar, also known as Suthar or Sutar, is a Hindu caste within the Vishwakarma community of India. Their traditional occupation is carpentry.[1][2] The great majority of Hindu sutradhars belong to the Vaishnava sect. Vishwakarma is regarded as their patron deity. [3]

Origin

An Indian Carpenter (p.48, Richard G Hodson, Carpenters in India, Bangalore 9 September 1856) - Copy
Sutradhar caste predominantly engaged in carpentry works

The word Sutradhar literally means thread-holder. Sutra in sanskrit means thread (which is used to mark the course of a saw), and dhara means to hold.[3] The names Sutar[4] and Suthar[5][6] are abbreviated versions of Sutrahadar.

Sutradhars, according to legend, are the carpenters descended from Maya, son of Vishwakarma. From the Rigveda, Vishwakarma is the divine engineer of the universe. In the Skanda Purana he had five children — Manu, Maya, Tvastar, Shilpi and Visvajna — and these are believed by the Vishwakarma community to have been the forebears of their five sub-groups, being respectively the gotras (clans) of blacksmiths, carpenters, bell metalworkers (metal casters), stonemasons and goldsmiths.[1][7] Together, these sons are known as Rathakar, or builders of Chariots.[1]

There is evidence that Sutradhars were performing other tasks besides carpentry in ancient times. A stanza from Chandimangal notes them puffing and frying rice, as well as painting. Agricultural tasks were historically done by castes of Austric origins, so the stanza may refer to a period of transition as the Sutradhar caste was forming and still performing other tasks.[4]

Besides woodworking, this class of people were engaged in making monuments,temples, palaces, chariots. They were also engaged in sculpting rock structures. They are believed to have built the Konark Sun Temple, Jagannath Temples, and the terracotta temples of Bengal .[8]

Demography

While some Sutradhars practice Shaktism, the vast majority are members of the Vaishnava sect.They worship Vishwakarma and offer sacrifices to him on Vishwakarma Day and Vasant Panchami.[3]

The Sutradhar caste is subdivided into a number of subcastes including Bhaskar, Bardhamenya, Mandaranya, Khadipeda, Astakul, and Airy. [4]. The Bhaskar subcaste is known for artistic carving of wood, bone, horn as well as stone carving. The Bardhamenya, Mandaranya, and Astakul are best known as carpenters but are also known as painters, clay image makers, stone carvers as well as constructors of buildings and temples. The Khadipeda were essentially architects, known as designers of temples, palaces, mosques, and building.[9]

Sutradhars are also subdivided into various clans, or gotras. These gotras include Alishya, Sanilya, Kanakrishi, Sandilya, and Kashyap. All these clans are totemic. Common Sutradhar surnames include Dutta, Chanda, De, Pal, Sil, Kundu, Mena, Manna, Maharana, Rana, Bandra, Rakhsit, Sutradhar, Sutar, Bhandari, Fouzdar, Das, Kar, and Sharma. Fouzdar would appear to have a royal origin, while Sharma is also a surname of them.[9]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c Ghosh & Ghosh 2000, p. 96.
  2. ^ Atal, Yogesh. Sociology: A Study of the Social Sphere. Pearson Education India. p. 242. ISBN 978-8-13179-759-4.
  3. ^ a b c Faroqi 2015.
  4. ^ a b c Ghosh & Ghosh 2000, p. 97.
  5. ^ India. Office of the Registrar General (1967). Census of India, 1961: Gujarat (Volume 5, Part 6 ed.). Manager of Publications. p. iv.
  6. ^ India Planning Commission (1976). Yojana (Volume 20 ed.). Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. p. 10.
  7. ^ Varghese K., George (8–14 November 2003). "Globalisation Traumas and New Social Imaginary: Visvakarma Community of Kerala". Economic and Political Weekly. 38 (45): 4794–4802. JSTOR 4414253.
  8. ^ Ghosh & Ghosh 2000, p. 99.
  9. ^ a b Ghosh & Ghosh 2000, p. 98.

References

  • Faroqi, Gofran (2015). "Sutradhar - Banglapedia". en.banglapedia.org. Archived from the original on 2 September 2018. Retrieved 2017-09-22.
  • Ghosh, G.K.; Ghosh, Shukla (2000). "Sutradhars". Legends of Origin of the Castes and Tribes of Eastern India. Calcutta, India: Firma KLM. ISBN 9788171020461.

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