Mudda Kammari: the homogenization of craft and identity among the iron-smelters of Telangana

I am from Kammari Jati…we were Mudda Kammaris. Now we don’t do that work so we only do Kammar-pani (blacksmithing). We’re also Viswabrahmin caste. we are BCB (Backward Classes Category B)–Kammari, Kanchari (bronzesmith), Ausala (goldsmith/silversmith), wadla (carpenters) and the stone workers.

The above quote by Desaradi Bakkaiah (pseudonym), the son of an iron-smelter-turned-village blacksmith, represents the complex (and often confusing) layers of identity of the iron-workers in present-day northern Telangana. Although the iron-smelters of northern Telangana I met during my Ph.D. fieldwork suggested that they belong to the Kammari (village blacksmith) community, which in-turn was a “sub-caste” of the Viswabrahmin caste, their claims to a mainstream Kammari identity was often disputed by the traditional village blacksmiths of the area.

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