The muſcular ſtrength of the Indian is ſtill leſs than might be expected from the appearance of the texture of his frame. Two Engliſh ſawyers have performed in one day the work of thirty-two Indians: allowances made for the difference of dexterity, and the advantage of European inſtruments, the diſparity is ſtill very great; and would have been more, had the Indian been obliged to have worked with the inſtrument of the European, as he would ſcarcely have been able to have wielded it.
As much as the labourer in Indoſtan is deficient in the capacity of exerting a great deal of ſtrength at an onſet, ſo is he endowed with a certain ſuppleneſs throughout all his frame, which enables him to work long in his own degree of labour; and which renders thoſe contortions and poſtures, which would cramp the inhabitant of northern regions, no conſtraint to him. There are not more extraordinary tumblers in the world. Their meſſengers will go fifty miles a day, for twenty or thirty days without intermiſſion. Their infantry march faſter, and with leſs wearineſs, than Europeans; but could not march at all, if they were to carry the ſame baggage and accoutrements.
Historical Fragments of the Mogul Empire of the Morattores, and of the English Concerns in Indostan – 1805
The Indian carpenter’s tools are so coarse, and the native wood is so hard, that one would wonder that the work was ever performed. Almost every thing is done with a chisel and an axe. The gimlet is a long piece of iron wire with a flat point, fixed into a wooden handle consisting of two parts, the upper one of which is held in one hand, while the other is turned by a bow, whose string is twisted twice round it.
The plane is small, but similar to that of Europe, excepting that it has a cross stick in the front, which serves as a handle for another workman, two being generally employed at one plane. As the comforts of a carpenter’s bench are unknown, when a Hindoo wants to plane his work, he sits on the ground, with his partner opposite to him, steadying the timber with their toes, and both plane together. I have seen two of them working in this manner on a bit of wood a foot square, with a plane three inches long.
Even the blacksmiths sit down to do their work. They dig a hole eighteen inches or two feet deep, in the centre of which they place the anvil, so that they can sit by it with their legs in the hole. A native of India does not gel through so much work as an European; but the multitude of hands, and the consequent cheapness of labour, supply the place of the industry of Europe, and in most cases that of its machinery also.
I saw the main-mast of the Minden, a weight little less than twenty tons, lifted and moved a considerable distance by the koolis or porters. They carried it in slings fixed to bamboos, which they placed on their heads crosswise, with one arm over the bamboo, and the other on the shoulder of the man immediately before; in front of the whole marched one to guide and to clear the way, for, when they have once begun to move, the weight on the head prevents them from seeing what is before them.
Lady Maria Callcott
Journal of a Residence in India – 1813
The Hindoo joiners make gods, bedsteads, window frames, doors, boxes, seats, pillars for houses, &c. They also delineate idol figures on boards, and sometimes paint the image; some engage in masonry. Formerly the Hindoo joiners had neither rule, compass, nor even a gimblet, nor indeed did the most skilful possess more than ten articles of what composes a joiner’s chest of tools; but they have now added a number, and, under the superintendance of a European, are able to execute very superior work. In some villages, several families of joiners, in ten others, perhaps, not two individuals of this cast, are to be found. The carpenters are in general extremely ignorant; very few are able to read.
A view of the History, Literature, and Mythology of the Hindoos – 1818