Kautilya Arthashastra

by R. Shamasastry | 1956 | 174,809 words | ISBN-13: 9788171106417

The English translation of Arthashastra, which ascribes itself to the famous Brahman Kautilya (also named Vishnugupta and Chanakya) and dates from the period 321-296 B.C. The topics of the text include internal and foreign affairs, civil, military, commercial, fiscal, judicial, tables of weights, measures of length and divisions of time. Original ...

Chapter 23 - The Superintendent of Weaving

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The superintendent of weaving shall employ qualified persons to manufacture threads (sūtra), coats (varma), cloths (vastra), and ropes.

Widows, cripple women, girls, mendicant or ascetic women (pravrajitā), women compelled to work in default of paying fines (daṇḍāpratikāriṇī), mothers of prostitutes, old women-servants of the king, and prostitutes (devadāsī) who have ceased to attend temples on service shall be employed to cut wool, fibre, cotton, panicle (tūla), hemp, and flax.

Wages shall be fixed according as the threads spun are fine, coarse (sthūla, i.e. big) or of middle quality, and in proportion to a greater or less quantity manufactured, and in consideration of the quantity of thread spun, those (who turn out a greater quantity) shall be presented with oil and dried cakes[1] of myrobalan fruits (tailāmalakodvartanai).

They may also be made to work on holidays (tithiṣu) by payment of special rewards (prativāpadānamānai).[2]

Wages shall be cut short if, making allowance for the quality of raw material, the quantity of the threads spun out is found to fall short.

Weaving may also be done by those artisans who are qualified to turn out a given amount of work in a given time and for a fixed amount of wages.

The superintendent shall closely associate with the workmen.[3]

Those who manufacture fibrous cloths, raiments, silk cloths, woollen cloths, and cotton fabrics shall be rewarded by presentations, such as scents, garlands of flowers, or any other prizes of encouragement.

Various kinds of garments, blankets, and curtains shall be manufactured.

Those who are acquainted with the work shall manufacture mail armour.

Those women who do not stir out of their houses (aniṣkāsinya), those whose husbands are gone abroad, and those who are cripple or girls may, when obliged to work for subsistence, be provided with work (spinning out threads) in due courtesy through the medium of maid-servants (of the weaving establishment).

Those women who can present themselves at the weaving house shall at dawn be enabled to exchange their spinnings for wages (dhāṇḍavetanavinimaya). Only so much light as is enough to examine the threads shall be kept. If the superintendent looks at the face of such women or talks about any other work, he shall be punished with the first amercement. Delay in paying the wages shall be punished with the middlemost amercement. Likewise when wages are paid for work that is not completed.

She who, having received wages, does not turn out the work shall have her thumb cut off.

Those who misappropriate, steal or run away with (the raw material supplied to them) shall be similarly punished.

Weavers, when guilty, shall be fined out of their wages in proportion to their offences.

The superintendent shall closely associate with those who manufacture ropes and mail armour, and shall carry on the manufacture of straps (varatra) and other commodities.

He shall carry on the manufacture of ropes from threads and fibres and of straps from cane and bamboo bark, with which beasts for draught are trained or tethered.[4]

[Thus ends Chapter XXIII, “The Superintendent of Weaving,” in Book II, “The Duties of Government Superintendents” of the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya. End of the forty-fourth chapter from the beginning.]

Footnotes and references:


As a balm to keep the head and eyes cool, and as an inducement to others to work in earnest.—Com.


Ucchiṣṭadānena: by giving them the leavings of food or by offering them scents, flowers, and edibles.—Com.


In order to detect the means they may employ to steal cloth or the material.—Com.


In śloka-metre.

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