References on traditional Indian iron smelting

Donald B. Wagner
22 October 2020
*22 additions by Paul Rondelez, 24 October 2020

*Babington, C . L. 1843. ‘Mining Products, from the Kutterbagga Iron Mine, 20 miles North East of Sumbulpore’. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. XII, pp. 163-164.

*Baden-Powell, Baden H. 1868. Handbook of the Economic Products of the Punjab. Civil Engineering College Press. Roorkee Iron smelting pp. 1-9.

*Balfour, E. 1855. ‘Manufacture of Iron and Steel and the Coals of the Madras Presidency’. Madras National Archives.

Ball, V. 1877. ‘Geology of the Rajmehal Hills’. Memoirs of the Geological Survey of India 13.2: 155–248. Illustrations of iron work, plates V–VI, between pp. 240–241. Very brief mention, p. 241.

———. 1880. ‘On the Aurunga and Hutár coal-fields and the iron ores of Palamow and Toree’. Memoirs of the Geological Survey of India 15.1: 1–127. Agaria iron smelting, pp. 120–122. Good photograph.

*Beckett J. O’B. 1867. ‘Iron and Copper Mines in the Kumaon Division’. Selections from the Records of Government North-Western Provinces, vol. 3, pp. 22-26 [drawing of furnace after article]

*Bilgrami Syed Ali 1899 ‘Iron Industry in the Territory of his Highness the Nizam of Hyderabad Deccan’. Journal of the Iron and Steel Institute, vol. 56, pp. 65-82.

Biswas, Arun Kumar. 1994. ‘Iron and steel in pre-modern India – A critical review’. Indian journal of history of science 29.4.

*Blackwell J. H. 1857. Report of the Examination of the Mineral Districts of the Nerbudda Valley. Bombay Education Society’s Press, Bombay.

Buchanan, Francis. 1807. A journey from Madras through the countries of Mysore, Canara, and Malabar ... Vol. I. Description of iron smelting, with illustration, pp, 118–123; illustration not in on-line copy. Description of another process, pp. 305–310; illustration poorly reproduced in on-line copy.

Cammiade, L. A. 1931. ‘Iron smelting by Kois, a jungle tribe in the eastern ghats of India’. Man 31: 66–67. Short note on the smelting technique. Photograph.

Campbell, —. 1855. ‘Report of the curator, Museum of Economic Geology, March, 1855’. Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 24.3: 247–251. Letter from E. A. Samuells, Cuttack, pp. 248–250, mentions local iron production and: “I have had sketches made by a friend of their process, ... which I will send you by and bye.”[]=year%3A%221855%22

Cracroft, W. 1832. ‘Smelting of iron in the Kasya Hills’. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 1: 150–151 + pl. 6. Description of the process, with one illustration.

Elwin, Verrier. 1942. The Agaria. Calcutta: Oxford University Press. Very good on both ethnography and technical aspects of iron smelting. Songs of iron smelting, pp. 169–173, mining, 173–177, smelting, 177–195, smithing, 195–210, detailed notes, 210–221. The Agaria are an iron-working people who live in the northern and central states of India (

*Hannay, S. F. 1856. ‘Notes on the Iron Ore Statistics and Economic Geology of Upper Assam’. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. XXV, pp. 330-344

*Harris H. 1923.‘ Native manufacture of wrought iron in small blast furnaces in India’, Proceedings of the Staffordshire Iron and Steel Institute, vol. XXXVIII, 42–62 [not online]

Heath, J. M. 1839. ‘On Indian Iron and Steel; In a Letter Addressed to the Secretary to the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland’. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland 5.2: 390–397. Brief description of bloomery smelting in south India, pp. 391–392. Entire article reproduced by Mushet 1840: 666–672, with a comment.

*Herbert J. D. 1833. ‘On the Mineral Productions of that Part of the Himalaya, Mountains, Lying between the Satlaj and the Kali (Gagra) Rivers’. Asiatic Researches or Transactions of the Society instituted in Bengal for Enquiries into the History, the Antiquities, the Arts and Sciences, and Literature, vol. 18, pp. 227-258. Iron: pp. 250-256.

Heyne, Benjamin. 1808. ‘A brief report on the manner used by the natives of the Northern Circars, in smelting iron – with some observations’. Oriental repertory 2: 485–496. Brief description, without illustrations. Report dated 1795.

———. 1814. Tracts, historical and statistical, on India ... London: Robert Baldwin. ‘On the method of smelting iron at Yeragutty, near Satghur’, with illustrations, pp. 190–197. ‘Account of the method of smelting iron in the northern Circars’, pp. 218–223. ‘Account of the method of making steel in the Mysore country’, pp. 358–364.

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1854. Himalayan journals: Notes of a naturalist in Bengal, the Sikkim and Nepal Himalayas, the Khasia Mountains, &c. 2 vols. London: John Murray. Iron smelting in the Khasi Hills, with illustration, vol. 2: 310–312.

———. 1855. Himalayan journals: Notes of a naturalist in Bengal, the Sikkim and Nepal Himalayas, the Khasia Mountains, &c. 2 vols. London: John Murray. “New edition, carefully revised and condensed.” Iron smelting in the Khasi Hills (identical to description in 1854 ed.), vol. 2: 304–307.

Hughes, Theodore W. H. 1877. ‘The Wardha Valley coal-field’. Memoirs of the Geological Survey of India 13.1: 1–154. ‘Experimental iron manufacture at Warora’, pp. 141–145.

‘The iron industry as carried on in Bengal and the Central Provinces’. 1900. The agricultural ledger 7.14: 143–160. Survey of both modern and traditional iron industry. Includes details of local traditional methods in several localities, often rather confused. P. 144, bloomery. Pp. 145–146, traditional production of liquid cast iron, 151–153, production of ‘pig iron’ [?] and conversion to steel.

‘The iron industry of the Central Provinces’. 1898. The agricultural ledger 5.17: 1–27. Survey of traditional iron industry, largely concentrating on economic and social aspects, but including descriptions of bloomery smelting in two localities, pp. 5, 16–19.

‘Iron works at Fírozpúr’ 1831. Gleanings in science 3: 327–32 + pl. XIX. Brief description of iron smelting, by ‘A. E.’, including sketch of furnace.

*Jackson, Welby. 1845. ‘Memorandum on the iron works of Beerbhoom’. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal,  vol. XIV, pp. 754-756. Large-scale bloomeries.

Jones, —. 1829. ‘Some particulars regarding the mineral productions of Bengal’. Gleanings in science 1.10: 281–286. Brief note of iron smelting, p. 284.

Kellsall, John. 1872. Manual of the Bellary district, compiled under the orders of government ... Madras: Lawrence Asylum Press. Brief description of iron smelting, pp. 277–279.

King, William. 1872. ‘On the Kadapah and Karnúl formations in the Madras Presidency’. Memoirs of the Geological Survey of India 8: 1–313. Very brief notes on iron smelting, pp. 278, 279.

King, William, and Robert Bruce Foote. 1865. ‘On the geological structure of the districts of Trichinopoly, Salem, and South Arcot, Madras, included in sheet no. 79 of the Indian Atlas’. Memoirs of the Geological Survey of India 4: 223–386. Iron smelting, pp. 374–378.

La Touche, T. H. D. 1917. A bibliography of Indian geology and physical geography ... Calcutta / London: Geological Survey of India / Kegan Paul. Includes numerous articles on traditional Indian iron smelting.

*Legrand, Jacob. 1843. ‘Report on the Iron of Kattywar, its comparative Value with British Metal, the Mines, and the Mode of Smelting the Ore’. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. 7, pp. 98-104.

*Marcadieu M. 1855. ‘Report on the Kooloo Iron Mines and Portion of the Mannikurn Valley’. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. 24, pp. 191-202.

Mishra, Ashoka K. 2003. Ethno-archaeology of iron in India (with special reference to Chhota Nagpur and Bastar). Delhi: Agam Kala Prakashan. Technical description of iron smelting, pp. 69–93.

Mushet, D. [1840]. Papers on Iron and Steel, Practical and Experimental. (Cambridge Library Collection - Technology). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ‘Experiments on Wootz or Indian Steel’, pp. 654–682. Complete text of Heath 1839, pp. 666–672. Brief description of a small blast furnace, producing grey cast iron for mixing with malleable iron to produce steel, pp. 672–673.

Oldham, R. D. 1883. ‘Report on the geology of parts of Manipur and the Naga Hills’. Memoirs of the Geological Survey of India 19.4: 217–? Description of iron-smelting furnace, pp. 240–?. Illustration between pp. 232–233. (incomplete)

*Oldham, Thomas. 1852. Report on the Iron Districts in the Damoodah Valley and Beerbhoom producing iron ore. Military Orphan Press, Calcutta

*———. 1859. ‘Preliminary notice on the coal and iron of Talcheer in the tributary mehals of Cuttack’. Memoirs of the Geological Survey of India, vol. I, pp. 1-32. Iron smelting, pp. 14-21.

Percy, John. 1864. Metallurgy . . . [Vol. 2:] Iron; steel. London: John Murray. Descriptions of several Indian iron-smelting methods, pp. 254–266.

*Rose, Robert 183.2 ‘Account of the Process of making Iron at Amdeah, near Sambhalpúr’. Gleanings in Science, vol. 3, p. 330.

Ruben, Walter. 1939. Eisenschmiede ond Dämonen in Indien: Ergebnisse einer Reise ... (Internationales Archiv für Ethnographie, 37, Supplement). Leiden: Brill. Pp. 11–15, brief description of the technology; pl. 1, photograph of a bloomery furnace.

*Shastree Bal Gangadhar. 1844. ‘Notes on the Iron Ore in the vicinity of Malvan’. Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. 4, pp. 435-437.

*Torrens H. 1850. ‘Note presented with a specimen of Iron from the Dhunakar Hills, Birbhúm’, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. 19, pp. 77-78.

*Turner Thomas 1893 ‘The production of wrought iron in small blast furnaces in India’. Journal of the Iron and Steel Institute, vol. 44, pp. 162-181 [not online?]

*von Schwarz C. Ritter 1901 ‘Ueber die Eisen- und Stahlindustrie Ostindiens’. Stahl und Eisen, vol. 21, no. 5, pp. 209-211, no. 6, pp. 277-283, no. 7, pp. 337-341, no. 8, pp. 391-399 [with good illustrations]
no. 5:
no. 6:
no. 7:
no. 8:

*Voysey H. 1832. ‘Description of the Native Manufacture of Steel in Southern India’. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. 1, pp. 245-7.

*Wall , P. W. 1859. ‘Iron-making at Roodrar’. Madras Journal of Literature and Science. Vol. XX, (new series, IV) , pp. 299-304.

Walters, H. 1832. ‘Journey across the Pandua Hills, near Silhet, in Bengal’. Asiatic researches 17: 499–512. Sketch of iron-smelting furnace, plate XVI, between pp. 502–503. Brief mention, p. 505.

Watson, E. R. 1907. A monograph on iron and steel work in the province of Bengal. Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Book Depôt. Traditional methods of iron production, pp. 20–27, photograph and diagram of furnace, pl. VI.

*Yule H. 1842. ‘Notes on the iron of the Khasia Hills, for the Museum of Economic Geography’. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. 11, pp. 853-857.