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.