Identity and Social Action among South Indian Craft Producers of the Vijayanagara Period



Economic, political, demographic, territorial, and social changes in fourteenth through seventeenth century southern India contributed to an expansion in the production and exchange of a range of craft goods. Producers of these goods responded to and benefited from changing conditions in a variety of ways. In this paper I consider archaeological and inscriptional evidence for craft production from the Vijayanagara period, with a focus on how changing demands and valuations of goods differentially affected the ability of craft producing communities to manipulate or redefine their social identity and social status. I focus on three scales of social identity and action: the individual artisan, local caste communities, and multi-caste or regional artisan groups.