NCERT Class 7 History Chapter 6 - Towns, Traders and Craftpersons Notes

Chapter 6 - Towns, Traders and Craftpersons Notes

1. Medieval town combined several functions-they were administrative centres, temple towns, as well as centres of commercial activities and craft production.

2. The perennial river Kaveri flows near the beautiful town Thanjavur, which was the capital of the Cholas.

3. Rajarajeshvara temple was built by King Rajaraja Chola. Its architect was Kunjaramallan Rajaraja Perunthachchan who has proudly carved his name on the temple wall.

4. There were palaces where Kings held court in mandaps, issuing orders to their subordinates. There Eire also barracks for the army.

5. The towns were bustling with markets selling grains, spices, cloth and jewellery. Water was supplied in the town from wells and tanks.

6. The Saliya weavers of Thanjavur and the nearby town of Uraiyur were busy producing cloth for flags to be used in the temple festival. They made fine cottons for the king and nobility and coarse cotton for the masses.

7. Some distance away at Svamimalai, the sthapatis or sculptors were making exquisite bronze idols and tall, ornamental bell metal lamps.

8. Thanjavur is also an example of a temple town. This represents a very important pattern of urbanization, the process by which cities developed.

9. Temples were often central to the economy and rulers built temples to demonstrate their devotion to various deities.

10. Kings also donated land for temples and money to carry out elaborate rituals, feed pilgrims and priests and celebrate festivals. Pilgrims also made donations to the temples.

11. Temple authorities used their wealth to finance trade and banking. Gradually a large number of priests, workers, artisans, traders etc., settled near the temple to cater to its needs and those of the pilgrims and thus grew temple towns.

12. Around the temples, Bhillasvamin (Madhya Pradesh) and Somnath (Gujarat), Kanchipuram and Madurai (Tamil Nadu) and Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh) towns were developed.

13. Pilgrimage centres also developed into townships. Vrindavan (Uttar Pradesh), and Tiruvannamalai (Tamil Nadu) are examples of two such towns.

14. Ajmer was the capital of the Chauhan kings in the 12th century and later became the suba headquarters under the Mughals. Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti, who is famous Sufi Saint, settled there in 12th century, attracted devotees from all creeds.

15. From the 8th century onwards there were several small towns in the subcontinent. These towns probably emerged from the large villages. They usually had a mandapika (mandi or market) where villagers brought their produce to sell. They also had market streets called hatta (haat) lined with shops. There were different streets for different items.

16. Usually a samanta or a zamindar built a fortified palace in or near these towns. They levied taxes on traders, artisans and articles of trade and sometimes ‘donated’ the ‘right’ to collect these taxes to local temples, which had been built by themselves or by rich merchants.

17. Taxes were collected in kind or in cash. Taxes were taken on sugar and jaggery, dyes, thread, cotton, on coconuts, salt, butter, sesame oil, on cloth, metal goods, distillers, cattle fodder and on loads of grain.

18. There were many kinds of traders. Gujarati traders, including the communities of Hindu Baniyas and Muslim Bohras, sold textiles and spices and brought gold and ivory from Africa and spices, tin, Chinese blue pottery and silver from Southeast Asia and China.

19. Spices such as pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, dried ginger etc., grown in tropical climates became an important part of European cooking and cotton cloth was very attractive.                                      ‘

20. The craftspersons of Bidar were so famed for their inlay work in copper and silver that it came to be called Bidri.

21. The Panchalas or Vishwakarma community, consisting of goldsmiths, bronzesmiths, blacksmiths, masons and carpenters were essential to the construction of buildings of temples, palaces, big buildings, tanks and reservoirs.

22. Weavers such as the Saliyar or Kaikkolars emerged as prosperous communities making donations to temples. Cloth making like cotton cleaning, spinning and dyeing became specialized and independent crafts.

23. Hampi is located in the Krishna-Tungabhadra basin, which formed the nucleus of the Vijayanagara Empire, founded in 1336. It is a well-fortified city. No mortar or cementing agent was used in the construction of these walls and technique followed was to wedge them together by interlocking.

24. Hampi was a busy place with commercial and cultural activities. Moors (Muslim merchants), Chettis and European traders joined the markets of Hampi.

25. Devadasis performed before the deity, royalty and masses in the Virupaksha (a form of Shiva) temple.

26. The Mahanavami festival (now known as Navaratri) was one of the most important festivals celebrated at Hampi. King also participated in the Mahanavami festival and received guests and accepted tribute from subordinate chiefs.

27. Hampi fell into ruin following the defeat of Vijayanagara in 1565 by the Deccani Sultans - the rulers of Golconda, Bijapur, Ahmadnagar, Berar and Bidar.

28. Surat (Gujarat) was the emporium of western trade during the Mughal period along with Cambay (Khambat) and somewhat later, Ahmedabad. Surat was the gateway for trade with West Asia via the Gulf of Ormuz.

29. Surat called the gate to Mecca because many pilgrims used this place to visit Mecca.

30. In the Surat city, there was cosmopolitan culture and people of all castes and creeds lived there. In 17th century there were many factories and warehouses at Surat. On an average a hundred ships of different countries could be found at the port at any time.

31. In Surat, there were several retail and wholesale shops selling cotton textiles. The textiles of Surat were famous for their gold lace borders (zari) and had a market in West Asia, Africa and Europe. There were rest-houses, magnificent buildings and innumerable pleasure parks.

32. The Kathiawad Seth or mahajans had huge banking houses at Surat. It is noteworthy that the Surat hundis were honoured in the far-off markets of Cairo in Egypt, Basra in Iraq and Antwerp in Belgium.

33. However, Surat began to decline towards the end of the 17th century due to many factors.

34. The English, Dutch and French formed East India Companies in order to expand their commercial activities in the east.

35. Great Indian traders like Mulla Abdul Ghafur and Viiji Vora who owned a large number of ships competed with them.

36. Bombay, Calcutta and Madras rise in 18th century, which are nodal cities today.

37. Vasco da Gama was a Portuguese sailor and Christopher Columbus was an Italian sailor.

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