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Karkhana


Karkhana a manufacturing centre under state supervision during the Sultanate and Mughal periods and now a common term for a place of manufacture or assembling. In view of the rural setting and subsistence economy of India, the Muslim rulers, who came from a different background of production and marketing, felt the need for maintaining state sponsored and state controlled karkhanas to supply the royal household and departments of government with provisions, stores and equipment. muhammad bin tughlaq is said to have established many such karkhanas. His successor Sultan firuz shah tughlaq turned these karkhanas into centres of vocational training as well. Many of the war captives, who were turned slaves, were distributed among these karkhanas to be trained in manufacturing, arts and crafts.

At the time of akbar karkhanas formed a regular department under the Diwan-i-Buyutat and Mir Saman (khan-i-saman). During his time, greater attention was given to the training of apprentices in these karkhanas. These young apprentices were placed under an Ustad (master craftsman) to learn the art and become experts themselves in course of time. A high-standing royal officer assisted by subordinates (mutasarrifs) on the spot headed these karkhanas.

The karkhanas were of various sorts, such as metallurgy, mining, mint, textile, weaponry, jewellery and so on. francois bernier, a French traveller in the late seventeenth century noticed the richness of the karkhanas in the Mughal Empire. In Bengal, the karkhanas were mostly organised to make fine textiles for royal families in India and abroad. It is said that the finest and most expensive fabrics for the consumption of the royalty came from the Bengal karkhanas. The profit accruing from these karkhanas were distributed among the officers and artisans in the form of salary and gifts. With the decline of Mughal rule and the Mughal aristocracy in the eighteenth century, these karkhanas also declined and finally disappeared during the east india company regime. [Sirajul Islam]