Even though India is moving from a caste to a class-based society, caste is what artisan communities identify with.
Fashioner of all Ornaments
The deity from whom all karigars, artisans, achaaris, goldsmiths, blacksmiths, temple architects, weavers and creators claim descent.
“See, Vishwakarma and his sons worked together on creating the universe,” said Nakulbhai, a smile bright on his face as he started in on one of the many stories he tells about the Hindu god of artisans and his descendants.
“After this, Vishwakarma was given gifts as payment. Each of his sons went to him and he gave each one a bowl of rice. They were disappointed. They thought, ‘We did so much work, the universe is so beautiful. And this bowl of rice is all we’ve received from our father.'”
From “Narrating Creative Process,” by Kirin Narayan
Description from the Mahabharata
“Vishwakarma, Lord of the arts, executor of a thousand handicrafts, carpenter of the gods, the most eminent of artisans, the fashioner of all jewels, first among craftsmen by whose art men live, and whom, a great and deathless god they continuously worship.”
From the Mahabharata
Goldsmiths in Tamilnadu
Kammalar, Achaari, Thattan, Vishwakarma
Kammalar is a generic term that comprises the communities of Kannar (brass-workers), Kollar (blacksmiths), Tattar (goldsmiths), Tatchar (carpenters) and Kartatchar (sculptors).
Achari/Achary (ஆச்சாரி in tamil) is the term used by members of the Vishwakarma community native to the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala in India.
The Indian Craftsman
by Ananda Coomaraswamy
“The Indian craftsman conceives of his art, not as the accumulated skill of ages, but as originating in the divine skill of Visvakarma, and revealed by him. Beauty, rhythm, proportion, idea have an absolute existence on an ideal plane, where all who seek may find. The reality of things exists in the mind, not in the detail of their appearance to the eye. Their inward inspiration upon which the Indian artist is taught to rely, appearing like the still small voice of a god, that god was conceived of as Visvakarma.”
Description of Vishwakarma
He has four hands, wears a crown, loads of gold jewelry, and holds a water-pot, a book, a noose and craftsman’s tools in his hands.
All over India, jewellers and goldsmiths identify with and belong to very specific regional castes that have its own idom, language and making techniques.
But they all identify with Vishwakarma.
Caste names for Tamilnadu artisans: kammalar, thattaan, ratna-thayyan (jewel stitcher)
Source: Vishwakarma Craftsmen in Early Medieval Peninsular India by Vijaya Ramaswamy.