The fire burns, the hammer descends

From here & there

A foundry near Srinivaspur in Kolar district.

Like many other trades, a thriving foundry was quite common in Srinivaspur town of Kolar district a few decades ago. People of a particular community would reside in the town, construct the foundry under a tree a little away from the town, and prepare various agricultural equipment.

The burning fire was used to sharpen old and worn out sickles, hooks, spades, mattocks, levers, pickaxes, axes, ploughshares — the list just went on. Repair, welding and grinding for sharpening tools continued without hitches in foundries.

In exchange for all such work, the ironsmiths were given sacks of grain. The fees were then not paid in cash. With the change in profession, from agriculture to other sectors, however, ironsmiths began losing importance, and naturally, work. Even the ironsmiths who carried on family business started shying away from it for fear of loss.

The entry of welding work was a further blow to them and the foundries started shutting down. Any sort of agricultural equipment was taken to a welder for quicker work. Under all such circumstances, Srinivaspur still houses some foundries. The change, however, is that instead of family business, people of different communities are running it.

Ironsmith Pasha says, “At least three people are needed for work at a foundry — one to use the bellows, another to hold the heated equipment and a third to hammer it. We had times when the farmer himself would hammer the equipment, but now not so. Also, the rates of both charcoal and labour have increased greatly.”

The farmers, on the other hand, express delight that some foundries are still alive. “Especially so in times when family businesses are given up for other occupation. We have greatly benefited from such people,” they assert. Farmers watching with hidden delight as the hammer strikes the hot piece of iron that will soon become an equipment for their work is now a common scene on the outskirts of Srinivaspur.

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The fire burns, the hammer descends

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