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Kerala PSC Indian History Book Study Materials Page 730Book's First Page
antimony, red chalk (silajatu) and red arsenic. Of all the metals, iron was certainly the most useful, and blacksmiths were only next to the peasants in importance in the rural community. They manufactured, as is evident from the literature of the period, various domestic and agricultural implements, utensils and weapons. The Amarakosa provides five names for ploughshare, which may indicate ready supply of this most important agricultural implement and intensive cultivation of land. It seems that during this period there had also taken place some improvement in the ploughshare itself, which facilitated deep ploughing and brought virgin land under cultivation. The most eloquent evidence of the high stage of development which metallurgy had attained in the Gupta period is the Mehrauli pillar of King Chandra, usually identified as Chandragupta II. This monolith, which has lasted through centuries without rusting, is a monument to the genius of the iron-workers of ancient India. While the blacksmiths catered to the needs of all sections of the society, the goldsmiths usually satisfied the demands of the rich. Contemporary literature testifies to the wide use of jewellery by the people of the time. Ornaments not only added to feminine beauty but were also a convenient means for women to save against possible misfortunes. A significant development of the period in metal technology was the manufacture of seals and statues, particularly of the Buddha. Metal workers formed an important and sizeable class of artisans. It was laid down that a metal worker in iron, gold, silver, copper, tin or lead, has to pay to the owner of these metals (who gives these to the artisans to prepare utensils, etc.) for the loss in smelting which exceeds the usual loss. Pottery and Terracottas A very popular and widely prevalent form of industry was that of making pots, terracotta figures, seals and leads. The extant specimens reveal the high degree of skill and perfection reached in moulding and colouring them. While clay utensils were popular for daily domestic use, clay figures were in demand for both religious and secular purposes. This extensive use of clay was natural because of its easy availability.