Agricultural machinery includes equipment used for farming and other agricultural activities. Today, these range from hand sickles to enormous combine harvesters that can clear acres of land in very little time. The history of agricultural tools flows in tandem with the history of agriculture itself. Let us take a look at a few of these plowing tools, used from time immemorial in Kashmir.
Traditionally, there were four types of plows used for land tillage in Kashmir. Categorized by their structure and the type of soil they were used on, these were: Albaen, Maraizialbaen, Batij, and heej. Although Albaen was used throughout Kashmir, Maraizialbaen and Batij were used in specific parts of South Kashmir only; whileHeej was appropriate for swampy areas. Albaen has been described graphically in a 19th-century Persian source viz, Gulzar-i-Kashmir. Plows are believed to have developed as the adapted versions of digging-sticks so that they would drag continuously across the ground. Its invention was a milestone in farming history as it ushered in an agricultural revolution.Maraizialbaen differed from the others due to a voun (peg) and kaeyn (stone) adjusted between the beam and the stilt to give it additional strength. It was used in some villages in Anantnag and Pulwama. Batij was most distinct from the others. It was carved out of a single piece of wood, and its stilt was obtuse rather than at a right angle.The tool used for plowing land underwater was called the ‘Heej’. Its sole did not have an iron plowshare. Other than this, it was identical to the Albaenwith respect to shape and structure. This apparatus was to ensure the health of the plow animals since plowing had to continue for about a month.
Now that we have an idea about this aspect of Kashmiri life, it gives us a sense of being one with our ancestors.Tools made by the local khaar (blacksmith) and chaan (carpenter) were considered to be of superior quality weighing against imported ones that came from other parts of the country. This sustained the workforce of the community itself and ensured prosperity of the entire village.Technology has come a long way since then, consequently traditional agricultural tools like these have been replaced by automated machines. It is important we know about these tools, as they have embellished our culture and traditions since the dawn of time.