Notes on Industry, Trade and Commerce during the Gupta period

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Peace and order helped the expansion of trade and commerce both in land and overseas. Varieties of cloth, food grains, spices, salt, bullion and precious stones were the main articles of trade. The textile industry flourished. It is learnt from Amarakosha that different varieties of bleached and unbleached silk were being produced. Animal products like wool, skin, ivory, bones and feather provided industry with good raw material. Amarakoshamake special reference to the leather industry.

Mining was at a well-developed stage. Amarakosh gives a list of metals including gold, silver, copper, iron, brass, tin and lead. Brihatsamhita mentions more than 30 jewels including diamond, sapphire, emerald, ruby etc. Jewelry was at developed stage.

In the overseas trade the period enjoyed close contacts with Egypt, Greece, Rome, Persia, Arabia, Syria, Sri Lanka and South East Asia. The ports of Sindhu, Kalyan and Chaul in the west and Kaverpattanam, Palur and Tamralipti in the east were important ports among others which facilitated overseas trade and commerce.

ADVERTISEMENTS:

The age of the Guptas was a prosperous time for the rise of guilds (sreni) in North India, which were oftern entrusted with the management of towns or parts of the cities. There were guilds of the bankers (sresthin), traders (sarthavaha) and artisans (kulika). Sometimes various guilds were combined-and were entrusted with joint responsibility. The guilds were autonomous bodies having their own laws. The guilds usually carried on prosperous business.

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