Introduction / History

The name Shilpakar is generally used for the communities categorized lowly and residing in the hilly areas of Uttar Pradesh. The Shilpakar are also known as Dom, Dum, Ram, Arya and Harijan. The Shilpakar belong to an aboriginal non-Aryan stock and it is said that they were reduced to a state of slavery by the Khasia and later on by the immigrant high castes in the historical past.

They speak the Kumaoni and Garwali languages. They also use Hindi while communicating with others. Their staple cereals are wheat, rice and maize.

The Shilpakar are divided into different hierarchically arranged groups based on their hereditary occupations. The first group is referred to as Mistri, which includes Lohar, Tamta and Orh, etc. The second group includes drummers such as the Dhobi, Damai and Bajgi. The third group includes serfs, vagrants and beggars.

Various occupational groups of the Shilpakar still pursue their traditional hereditary occupations such as black smithy, copper smithy, basketry, masonry, oil-pressing, drum-beating and leather-work, etc. They also engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry, manufacture agricultural implements, making baskets and household utensils, etc.

Marriages are permitted in groups belonging to the same status. Adult marriage is the norm through negotiation. They cremate the dead and the death pollution is observed. The incidence of colour-blindness is 1.7 per cent among them.

Some of their deities are Bhairon, Betal, Kalchhin, Kalua, Chhurmall and Gangnath, etc. These deities are worshipped as family, village and regional deities.

Alternate names: Shilpakar, Athapahariya, Aagri, Badde, Bairi, Bakharia, Beda, Chanyal, Damai, Dholi, Dhaloti, Dhunar, Kolai, Kolta, Kumbhar, Mour, Lohar, Okhera Parki, Rudia, Tamta.