This chapter focuses on the artisan, his role in society, and his engagement with his context. The itinerant life of the artisan makes him a singular presence at most times and in most places. Within the caste-based village structure, occupations transfer from generation to generation, and individuals within a joint family system absorb through training and osmosis the skills they require to continue in the vocation of their antecedents, whether artisanship or agricultural labor. In this traditional system, the family is the training ground, and the extended family and caste form rippling circles of the larger context within which kinship associations are enjoyed and duties performed. This chapter examines what might constitute the artisan's self-identity as well as the processes and practices by which it is repeatedly reconfigured. It shows that much of the experience of the artisan is centered on his vocation and rooted in the making of religious objects and objects of art.
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