Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
MINERALS]
393
INDIA


ground, however, for the industry is Kashmir, where Sir Thomas Wardle reported that the silk was of as high a quality as from any part of the world. The most important seat of the silk-weaving industry is Bengal, but there are few parts of India where some silk fabrics are not woven. The silk weavers of India possess the very highest skill in their craft, and with competent and energetic management and increased capital the industry could be revived and extended.

Other Manufactures.—The demand of the Indian population for woollen fabrics is very small in comparison with that for cotton, and although the manufacture of blankets is carried on in many parts of India, the chief part of the indigenous woollen industry was originally concerned with shawls. Kashmir shawls were at one time famous, but the industry is practically extinct. The chief seat of the woollen industry now is the Punjab, where a considerable number of weavers, thrown out of work by the decline of the shawl industry, have taken to carpet-making. The chief centre of this industry is Amritsar. The output of the woollen mills is chiefly used for the army and the police. In addition to these and the cotton and jute mills there are indigo factories, rice mills, timber mills, coffee works, oil mills, iron and brass foundries, tile factories, printing presses, lac factories, silk mills, and paper mills. There is a large trade in wood-carving, the material being generally Indian ebony in northern India, sandal-wood in southern India, and teak in Burma and elsewhere.

From an artistic point of view the metal manufactures are one of the most important products of India.

Brass and Copper Work.—The village brazier, like the village smith, manufactures the necessary vessels for domestic use. Chief among these vessels is the lota, or globular bowl, universally used in ceremonial ablutions. The form of the lota, and even the style of ornamentation, has been handed down unaltered from the earliest times. Benares enjoys the first reputation for work in brass and copper. In the south, Madura and Tanjore have a similar fame; and in the west, Ahmedabad, Poona and Nasik. At Bombay itself large quantities of imported copper are wrought up by native braziers. The temple bells of India are well known for the depth and purity of their note. In many localities the braziers have a special repute either for a peculiar alloy or for a particular process of ornamentation. Silver is sometimes mixed with the brass, and in rarer cases gold. The brass or rather bell-metal ware of Murshidabad, known as khagrai, has more than a local reputation, owing to the large admixture of silver in it.

Pottery is made in almost every village, from the small vessels required in cooking to the large jars used for storing grain and occasionally as floats to ferry persons across a swollen stream. But, though the industry is universal, it has Pottery. hardly anywhere risen to the dignity of a fine art. Sind is the only province of India where the potter’s craft is pursued with any regard to artistic considerations; and there the industry is said to have been introduced by the Mahommedans. Sind pottery is of two kinds, encaustic tiles and vessels for domestic use. In both cases the colours are the same,—turquoise blue, copper green, dark purple or golden brown, under an exquisitely transparent glaze. The usual ornament is a conventional flower pattern, pricked in from paper and dusted along the pricking. The tiles, which are evidently of the same origin as those of Persia and Turkey, are chiefly to be found in the ruined mosques and tombs of the old Mussulman dynasties; but the industry still survives at the little towns of Saidpur and Bubri. Artistic pottery is made at Hyderabad, Karachi, Tatta and Hala, and also at Multan and Lahore in the Punjab. The Madura pottery deserves mention from the elegance of its form and the richness of its colour. The United Provinces have, among other specialties, an elegant black ware with designs in white metal worked into its surface.

Mineral Resources.

Putting aside salt, which has been already treated, the chief mining resources of India at the present day are the coal mines, the gold mines, the petroleum oil-fields, the ruby mines, manganese deposits, mica mines in Bengal, and the tin ores and jade of Burma. Other minerals which exist but have not yet been developed in paying quantities are copper ore, alum, gypsum and plumbago.

Coal.—Coal has been known to exist in India since 1774. The first mine at Raniganj dates from 1820, and has been regularly worked up to the present time. Coal of varying quality exists under a very extensive area in India, being found in almost every province and native state with the exception of Bombay and Mysore. In respect, however, of both the number and size of its mines Bengal comes easily first, with seven-eighths of the total output, the largest mines being those of Raniganj, Jherria, and Giridih, while the Singareni mine in Hyderabad comes next. Many of the Bengal mines, however, are very small. There are some important mines in Assam and the Central Provinces. The importance of the Indian coal production lies in the hope that it holds out for the development of Indian industries, especially in connexion with the nascent iron and steel industry. Coal and iron are found in conjunction in the Central Provinces, and the Tata Company has recently been formed to work them on a large scale. The railways already use Indian coal almost exclusively, and Indian coal is being taken yearly in greater quantities by ships trading to Eastern ports. The total output in 1905-1906 was 8,417,739 tons; while there were 47 companies engaged in coal-mining, of which 46 were in Bengal.

Gold.—The production of gold in India is practically confined to the Kolar gold fields in Mysore. An uncertain but unimportant amount is annually procured by sand-washing in various tracts of northern India and Burma; and there have been many attempts, including the great boom of 1880, to work mines in the Wynaad district of the Madras Presidency. There are also mines in the Hyderabad state from which a small amount of gold is produced. But the output of gold in Mysore represents 99% of the annual Indian yield. Modern mining at Kolar dates from 1881, but there are extensive old workings showing that much gold had been extracted under native rule. The mines are worked under leases from the Mysore government, which secure to the state a royalty of 5% of the gold produced. Up to the end of 1903 the total output of the Kolar mines reached the value of £19,000,000.

Iron.—In purity of ore, and in antiquity of working, the iron deposits of India probably rank first in the world. They are to be found in every part of the country, from the northern mountains of Assam and Kumaun to the extreme south of the Madras Presidency. Wherever there are hills, iron is found and worked to a greater or less extent. The indigenous methods of smelting the ore, which are everywhere the same, and have been handed down unchanged through countless generations, yield a metal of the finest quality in a form well suited to native wants. But they require an extravagant supply of charcoal; and even with the cheapness of native labour the product cannot compete in price with imported iron from England. European enterprise, attracted by the richness of the ore and the low rate of wages, has repeatedly tried to establish iron-works on a large scale; but hitherto every one of these attempts has ended in failure with the exception of the iron-works at Barrakur in Bengal, first started in 1865, which after many years of struggle seem to have turned the corner of success. The principal sources of iron-stone at present are the Madras ores, chiefly at Salem, the Chanda ores in the Central Provinces, and the ores obtained at and near Raniganj in Bengal.

Petroleum.—The great oilfields of the Indian empire are in Burma, which supplies 98% of the total output. Of the remainder nearly all comes from Assam. In both provinces the growth of the yield has been very great, the total output in 1901 being six times as large as in 1892; but even so it has failed to keep pace with the demand. A regular service of steamers carries oil in bulk from Rangoon to Calcutta, and now Burmese oil competes with the Russian product, which had already driven the dearer American oil from the market (see Burma).

Other Ores.—Manganese ore is found in very large quantities on a tract on the Madras coast about midway between Calcutta and Madras. Most of the ore goes to Great Britain. There are also valuable deposits of manganese in the Central Provinces and, it is believed, in Burma. The export of manganese, which had been only about ten years in existence in 1905-1906, amounted then to 316,694 tons, with a value of £250,000. Mica has long been obtained in Bengal, chiefly in the Hazaribagh district, and there is a ruby-coloured variety which is held in great estimation. In Madras also a mica industry has recently grown up. Tin is found in the Tavoy and Mergui districts of Lower Burma, and has for many years been worked in an unprogressive manner chiefly by Chinese labour. In 1900 tin of good quality was found in the Southern Shan States. Copper ore is found in many tracts throughout India, plumbago in Madras, and corundum in southern India.

Precious Stones.—Despite its legendary wealth, which is really due to the accumulations of ages, India cannot be said to be naturally rich in precious stones. Under the Mahommedan rule diamonds were a distinct source of state revenue; and Akbar is said to have received a royalty of £80,000 a year from the mines of Panna. But at the present day the search for them, if carried on anywhere in British territory, is an insignificant occupation. The name of Golconda has passed into literature; but that city, once the Mussulman capital of the Deccan, was rather the home of diamond-cutters than the source of supply. It is believed that the far-famed diamonds of Golconda actually came from the sandstone formation which extends across the south-east borders of the nizam’s dominions into the Madras districts of Ganjam and Godavari. A few poor stones are still found in that region. Sambalpur, on the upper channel of the Mahanadi river in the Central Provinces, is another spot once famous for diamonds. So late as 1818 a stone is said to have been found there weighing 84 grains and valued at £500. The river-valleys of Chota Nagpur are also known to have yielded a tribute of diamonds to their Mahommedan conquerors. At the present day the only place where the search for diamonds is pursued as a regular industry is the native state of Panna in Bundelkhand. The stones are found by digging down through several strata of gravelly soil and washing the earth. Even there, however, the pursuit is understood to be unremunerative, and has failed to attract European capital. At the present day the only important industries are the rubies and jade of Burma. The former are worked by the Ruby Mines Company or by licensed native miners under the