OLD TIME INDUSTRIES
A number of indigenous industries existed in Jharkhand in olden times. The foremost among them are outlined below:
The weaving castes such as Chik Baraks, Pans and Muhammedan Jolahas used to manufacture coarse cloth, e.g., Kareya for local consumption. The cotton used in folk at home. There were no large weaving centres and the production was on small scale, based on individual household. In spite of the dominance of mill-made cloths this tradition has been carried on though in a refined form, because of surplus domestic labour and specialised skill in weaving, e.g., manufacture of lungis, bed-covers and curtains of attractive designs to suit individual taste. The Cooperative Credit and Marketing have provided facilities to the weavers, who now use imported mill-spun yarn. The production is spread over villages throughout the district. Some important production centres are located in villages round Ormanjhi and Mandar in the Sadar subdivision. The goods now reach wider markets on account of improved communications, some being exported overseas as well.
The ordinary iron utensils for domestic use as well as ploughs were made locally throughout the district by the village Lohras and Lohars. Iron was extracted from iron-ore by the Asurs and Lohras, and sometimes by the Oranons and Mundas themselves. The appliances used by the blacksmiths were primitive and the products of their hearth and anvil had no pretensions to fine work. The weapons used by the tribals in bunting were sometimes good examples of such crude work, specially the hunting axes known as balua or phalsa according to their shape. Heavy axes (tangi) were made for wood cutting. These primitive industries have now almost vaished because of the supply of better and cheaper mill-made wares, manufactured in local factories or imported.
Other Domestic Industries
The workers in brass and bell-metal, principally at Ranchi and Lohardaga, used to manufacture the ordinary vessels for household use; the village Kumhars supplied pottery of ordinary description; the carpenters turned out rough wooden work. The village Kumhars still carry on their work while the others have, more or less, disappeared from the scene. As in old times, basket-making is even now carried on by the Turies and Doms all over the district while rope is manufactured by Birhors and other aboriginal tribes from sabai grass and other fibres. Among musical instruments drums are locally manufactured.
In the Sonapet Valley, several unsuccessful attempts were made to develop the gold-washing industry. At one time this led to a so-called gold boom in Calcutta which landed many people in disaster. The Jhoras of Biru occasionally washed for gold in the auriferous sands of the river Sankh and other rivers, but a hard day's work was well rewarded if the gold-dust obtained was worth 3 or 4 annas.
This country was famous in olden times for diamonds. Tavernier refers to diamond-mining at Soumelpore in Lohardaga (now Ranchi) district of Chota Nagpur where diamonds were found in the sands of the river Koel. But nobody has been heard prospecting about them now.
In the early part of the present century experiments showed that coffee could do well in Chota Nagpur. Its cultivation was started near Ranchi and the local Roman Catholic Mission made pioneering efforts to propagate it. However, cultivation remained restricted and at present no coffee is grown at all in the district.
Formerly the rearing of tasar cocoons was carried out on a small scale in portions of Tamar and Khunti thanas. Wild cocoons were very rare and tasar was usually obtained from cocoons reared on the asan tree (Terminalia Tomentosa). The Roman Catholic Mission at Khunti made some efforts to encourage this industry in the vicinity of Khunti. However, there is now little trace of this industry.