History Optional Paper-1 Solution – 2010: Q.5 (c)

History Optional Paper-1 Solution – 2010: Q.5 (c)

Q.5 (c) Discuss the different types of Karkhanas in Mughal India. How was the production organized in the different Karkhanas?


The Mughal Karkhanas were the examples of collective and large scale employment of artisans and craftmen in different industries in a big industrial organisation. The biggest was the Imperial karkhanas.

In Mughal India, the state was the largest manufacturer on large scale in respect of several commodities. It established the workshops (karkhanas) not only at the capital but also in the provinces.

Many of the wants of Mughal royalty and nobility were supplied by these karkhanas. Such karkhanas were manufacturing cloths, robes, arms, furnitures, utensils etc. Metal works, jewellery, miniature paintings etc were also produced. Raw materials were generally supplied by the state or nobles.
Outout of the karkhanas was rarely marketed, but kept for royal use, gifts and even provincial revenue payments and export.

The manufacture of cotton cloth was the principal industry. Abul Fazl, in his Ain­i-Akbari refers to the cotton fabrics of Khandesh.

Different types of Karkhanas and organisation of production

(1) Imperial Karkhanas

Imperial karkhana was under Mughal Emperor and was managed by the royal department.

Under Akbar, there were Imperial karkhanas in Agra, Fatehpir Sikri, Lahore, Ahmedabad etc. Under Shahjahan and Aurangzeb, Delhi also came to have imperial karkhana.
Bernier has left an eyewitness account of Imperial karkhanas at Delhi. Abul Fazl talks about several Imperial karkhanas in Ain-i-Akbari.

According to Abul Fazl, Diwan-i-Buyutat was incharge of Imperial karkhanas.
The specialised craftmen assembles in karkhanas were placed under the charge of a supervisor called malik.
Each karkhana also had expert of the particular article besides two offices: Accountant and Mushrif.
Darogah was employed to inspect production of all the articles produced and control and maintain quality of articles thus produced.

For Imperial karkhanas, most experienced artisans in the area was chosen, appointed and registered. The working hours and regulations were tight.

Akbar was personally interested in practising craft of an ordinary artisan.

(2) Provincial Karkhanas

Karkhanas were also maintained by several provincial governors and nobles. They were organised on almost similar basis as imperial karkhanas.
The governors of some provinces like Agra, Ahmedabad and Kashmir patronized the manufacturing of local products.
Silk weaving was a prosperous industry in Bengal.

(3) Private Karkhanas

Some nobles and members of royal family maintained and managed private workshops mainly for manufacturing of luxury articles. These were for personal use as well as used for presents to emperor.

Shahjahan, Dara Shikoh, Jahan Ara, Aurangzeb also maintained their indivudual karkhanas to satisfy their own want.

Every nobles karkhanas were superintended by Darogah. Another essential functionary of noble karkhanas was tahvildars, musrifs (to maintain commercial records), shahs and bhayyas (who took care of security).

(4) Other types of karkhanas

During later mughal time, many artisions who had accumulated capital through any means opened up their own karkhanas where other artisions were employed on wage basis.

Many merchants and brokers maintained karkhanas. Some of them transmitted their karkhanas to rural region to increase their income due to cheap labour and raw material.

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