Indian Matchbox Art  UP238

Unable to keep up with demand in the decades prior to World War I, most of India’s matches were imported, mainly from Sweden, Austria and Japan. Around 1910, Japanese immigrants settling in Calcutta began making matches. Locals learned the necessary skills, and a number of small match factories sprang up in and around the city.

Following World War I, many manufacturers migrated to the state of Tamil Nadu in the south where the climate was dry, labor was cheap, and raw materials were plentiful. Owned and operated by closely related Indian families, to this day, the “Match Kings of South India,” as they are known, continue to produce the bulk of the nation’s matches. Matches were, and still are, also produced by hand in private households as a small-scale cottage industry.