Malabar Manual Vol 1 CHAPTER III. HISTORY
Section C. — 825 to 1498 A.D.
The Keralolpatti, after describing the partition of his dominions by Cheraman Perumal, and after describing how the original settlement of Muhammadans was effected in the way3 already described, proceeds to give some account of the changes which followed the retirement of Cheraman Perumal among the petty Rajas whom he left behind. The details given, however, do not admit of anything but the most cursory treatment.
NOTEs: Pages 192-95. END OF NOTEs
It relates how the Zamorin became the most famous of the Malayali Rajas. He seems to have adopted the high sounding title of Kunnalakkon, or king of the hills (kunnu) and waves (ala). The Sanskrit form of this title Samudri, or as it is pronounced by Malayalis Samutiri or Tamutiri (or vulgarly Samuri or Tamuri), is that by which the chief Raja of this house became known to Europeans as the Zamorin of Calicut.
The Zamorins in the eighth century had been Utayavar1 of Eralinad or Ernad, the Bullock country. Down to the present day the second eldest male of the family bears the title of Eralpad. And the family is sometimes called the Eradi dynasty, and sometimes the Netiyiruppu dynasty from the locality (in Ernad) where probably was located the original family residence.
NOTEs: 1. Conf. Deeds Nos. I and 2, App. XII. END OF NOTEs
Another tradition has it that the original family residence was at Puntura, whence the title also sometimes applied of Punturakkon or king of Puntura. Where this last named place was situated is not definitely known, but one tradition has it that the family came originally from a place of that name situated somewhere in the valley of the Kaveri River.
The Zamorin was also sometimes called the “Lord of Men” and a distinction was drawn between him and the North and South Kolattiri chiefs who were respectively styled the “Lord of Horses” and the “Lord of Elephants”, Cannanore, the capital of the former chief, was in former days a great emporium of the trade in horses between Arabia, the Persian Gulf, and Southern India.
The Zamorin’s first act of aggression after the departure of the Perumal was to dispossess the chieftain of Polanad—the country round about Calicut —the country in fact of the Ten Thousand with whose assistance it is said he won the victory2 over the invaders coming by the Palghat gap. One tradition says that for forty-eight years he warred with the chief of Polanad, the Porlattiri Raja, and in the end succeeded by winning over his opponent’s troops, the Ten Thousand, and by bribing his opponent’s minister and mistress.
NOTEs: 2. Conf. pp. 236, 238, 241, 242. END OF NOTEs
The Zamorin’s troops having been admitted by treachery into his fort, the Porlattiri chief fled to the protection of the North Kolattiri, and from one of the females of this family the present Kadattunad Raja of North Malabar is descended.
The treacherous minister and mistress of Porlattiri were rewarded with territory and honours—the former received the rank of Ernad Menon and the latter that of Talachennor of Calicut. Sometime afterwards however misunderstandings arose, and half of the Ten Thousand (the Vadakkampuram faction) marched to the Zamorin’s palace to oppose the other half of the Ten Thousand (the Kilakkampuram faction). But peaceable councils prevailed, and by timely concessions and liberal allowances the Zamorin and his ministers finally won over the Ten Thousand and their country (Polanad) round Calicut.
The tradition preserved in the Keralolpatti as to the founding of Calicut and its rapid rise as a trading centre are very probably founded on fact. The Zamorin had apparently built a fort at a place called Velapuram in Calicut probably in order to have a firmer hold of Polanad. A merchant (Chetti) from the East Coast, who had been on a trading voyage to Mecca reached Calicut with a ship overloaded (it is said) with gold. The ship was about to sink in consequence, and the merchant brought it close in shore at Calicut, took out a box of treasure, laid it before the Zamorin, and told his story.
The Zamorin directed him to bring the treasure ashore and to store it in his palace. The merchant accordingly built (it is said) a granite cellar in the king’s house and deposited therein as much of the treasure as could not be conveniently taken away in his ship. He then sailed for his own country, and after a time returned to Calicut, opened the cellar in the presence of the Zamorin,' counted out the treasure, and finding it correct divided it into two portions and offered the Zamorin one-half of it.
But the Zamorin replied, “I do not want your treasure, you may take away the whole.” The Chetti being “convinced that this was the most truthful of all kings and Svarupams (dynasties)” then asked and obtained permission to trade at Calicut. In this way the bazaar was founded. The Chetti’s name was Ambaresan, and, so the Keralolpatti runs, “the cellar erected by him in the Kovilagam (king’s house) bears even to this day1 the name of Ambaresan kett, (Ambaresan built).”
NOTEs: 1. The tradition has been lost since the Keralolpatti was written (seventeenth century A.D). END OF NOTEs
After this, it is said, “the men of the port began to make voyages to Mecca in ships, and Calicut became the most famous (port) in the world for its extensive commerce, wealth, country, town, and king.”
Yet another tradition is also preserved in the Keralolpatti, somewhat to the same purport as that last above related. It runs, that in the town of Muscat two sons were born to a Muhammadan ; after they had grown up, the father addressed the elder of the two sons saying :—“After my death you two will fight with each other. The other will kill you. Both of you should not be in this same place. You had better go to some land and pass your days. I shall give you enough of gold for that.” Thus the father sent away the elder son in a ship. He visited various countries and laid presents before their respective sovereigns. The presents consisted of pickle -boxes full of gold, and he used to represent to each king whose honesty he wished to test that the box contained only pickles.
All the kings he visited on discovering what the boxes really contained concealed the fact and appropriated the gold, but at last the experiment was tried on the Zamorin, and the Zamorin at once called him up and said :—“ You mistook one thing for another. This is not pickles but gold.” The traveller thereupon concluded that here at last was a trustworthy king, and so he settled down at Calicut and became the Koya (Muhammadan priest) of Calicut.
Both traditions it will be seen rely on the fact that property was made secure in Calicut, and that in consequence of this the trade of the place and the trading settlers increased largely. Among the latter the Arab and Muhammadan element became in time predominant. And the Keralolpatti tradition asserts that it was through the aid rendered by the Muhammadan settlers at Calicut that the Zamorins made their next great encroachment on the neighbouring chiefs.
Up to this time1 the Valluva kon or king of the Valluvar [(?) Pallavas] had been the presiding chief at the great Kuttam or Assembly of Keralam which took place every twelfth year at the Maha Makhum2 festival at Tirunavayi. The Koya of Calicut was desirous of seeing the ceremonies, and accordingly went to one of the festivals. On his return to Calicut he told the Zamorin that, if he wanted it, he would conquer the country for him and install him as presiding chief at the festival.
To this the Zamorin agreed, and the celebration of the festival under the auspices of the Zamorins dates from the time when the Muhammadan took up arms on behalf of the Zamorin, It is unlikely that it was only with the Valluva kon that hostilities ensued, for the Cochin Rajas seem to have been despoiled by the Zamorins about the same time of the Kutnad and Chavakkad portions of the Ponnani taluk.
NOTEs: 1. Conf. p. 239.
2. Still allied to the Rashtrakuta dynasty. END OF NOTEs
It is impossible to say exactly when those events happened. Other traditions previously related3 seem to show that, when the line of Kerala princes ended with Cheraman Perumal in 825 A.D., the Cholas acquired the suzerainty of Kerala. Moreover, the Keralolpatti has preserved the name of one of the Chola kings Adityavarmman, who is generally supposed to have overrun a large part of South India about A.D. 894.
NOTEs: 3. Conf. pp. 163-68. END OF NOTEs
And the tradition also exists that invasions became frequent about this time. Both Pandyans and Cholas apparently struggled for the mastery, and the latter appear to have driven back the Kongus or Gangas and so freed Kerala, for a time at least, from attack via the Palghat gap. The Zamorins about this time-the first century after 825 A.D. — were probably busy consolidating their hold on the country round Calicut, and it was not till some considerable time later that their preponderance among the Malayali chieftains began to be recognized.
The Cochin Rajas as Cheraman Perumal’s direct heirs, shorn however of the territories transferred to the Kolattiris (North and South), and of other territory, besides by the defection of the Zamorins, seem to have been the principal power in central Kerala, and it is in accordance with this that in the Kollam year 93 (A.D. 917-18) an expedition (probably of Kongus4 or Gangas) from Mysore was driven back when attempting an invasion of Kerala via the Palghat gap.
NOTEs: 4. Conf. pp. 225-26. END OF NOTEs
Local tradition assigns this as the date on which the Cochin Rajas acquired the small district of Chittur still held by them and lying to the east of Palghat in the very centre of the gap. And the Palghat Rajas assort that the territory was assigned by them to the Cochin Rajas to enable the latter the better to protect the country from invasions at that point.
About 973-90 the Rashtrakuta dynasty succumbed to the Western Chalukya king Taila II, “who lifted up the royal fortunes of the kingly favourites of the Chalukya family which had been made to sink down by the deceitful practices of the Rashtrakutas.” Kerala, after this time probably, had peace on its Kongu or Ganga frontier, for the resuscitated dynasty of Western Chalukyas does not appear to have extended its power to its old limits in the South, and about a century later (1080 A.D.) the Gangas or Kongus gave place finally to the Hoysala Ballalas.
After the overthrow of the Rashtrakutas the Gangas or Kongus were probably a decaying power. It was about this time, or more exactly A.D. 970-1039, that Al Biruni wrote his account of the coast—“Beyond Guzarat are Konkan and Tana ; beyond them the country of Malibar,1 which, from the boundary of Karoha to Kulam,2 is 300 parasangs in length. The whole country produces the pan, in consequence of which Indians find it easy to live there, for they are ready to spend their whole wealth on that leaf.
There is much coined gold and silver there, which is not exported to any other place. Part of the territory is inland and part on the sea-shore. They, speak a mixed language, like the men of Khabhalik in the direction of Rum, whom they resemble in many respects. The people are all Samanis (Buddhists) and worship idols. Of the cities on the shore the first is Sindabur, then Faknur,3 then the country of Manjarur,4 then the country of Hili,5 then the country of Sadarsa,6 then Jangli,6 then Kulam.7 The men of all those countries are Samanis. After these comes the country of Sawalak8 which comprises 125,000 cities and villages. After that comes Malwala,8 which means 1,893,000 in number.
NOTEs: 1 Conf. p. 203.—“Male, where the pepper grows,” has now developed into Malibar. And this last form of the name has to be distinguished from M'abar, which name Al Biruni assigns to the country extending from 'Kulam' to the country of Silawar ’ 300 parasangs along the shore.”
2. Quilon (South Kollam).
3. Barkur in South Canara.
4. Mangalore in South Canara.
5. This evidently refers to the North Kolattiri dynasty whose second most ancient family seat was in the immediate neighbourhood of Mount Deli, the Hili of Al Biruni.
6. These names have probably not been accurately handed down.
7. Kulam is evidently Quilon (South Kollam), the country of the South Kolattiri (Travancore).
8 These names being derived from numerals, the Laccadive and Maldive Islands are probably here referred to. The Laccadive Islands have always been the prey of sea-robbers. END OF NOTEs
“About forty years ago the king of Malwala died, and between his son and the minister a contest arose, and after several battles they ended with dividing the territory between them. The consequence is that their enemies obtained a footing and are always making their incursions from different parts of Hind, and carrying and viands, sugar, wine, cotton cloths, captives and great booty. But through the great wealth of that country no serious injury is done.”
By the eleventh century A.D., the time when the above account was written, the Pallavas had sunk into the position of mere feudatories of the Cholas, and the Cholas seem to have become the great suzerain power of South India. The Mala-nad (hill country, West Coast, Malabar) was more than once invaded by the Cholas at this time, and they doubtless drew tribute from one or more of the Malayali chiefs. Those invasions, however, do not seem to have left any permanent impression on the country or to have given rise to any changes among the ruling families.
The Vikramanka deva charita of Bilhana affects to give an, account of a brilliant Western Chalukyan expedition made into Southern India in the last quarter of the eleventh century A.D. or in the first quarter of the twelfth by Vikramaditya VI styled The Great. And in this expedition the poet relates that the king of Kerala was slain.
That Vikramaditya the Great ever came so-far south as Malabar is not to be credited for various reasons, but it would appear that some of his feudatories (Sindas of Erambarage) made an incursion to the West Coast, in the course of which they are said to have burnt Uppinakatti (? Uppinangadi in South Canara) and Goa and to have seized the Konkan. This was probably exploit enough for the court poet to magnify into a magnificent royal procession throughout South India.
The Chola supremacy in South India continued throughout the twelfth century A.D. ; it attained its widest bounds probably in the reign of Kulottunga Chola (about 1064-1113 A.D.), and in 1170 Madura, the Pandyan capital city, had become incorporated in the Chola dominions.
“Five miles by sea (from Kulam Mali) lies the Island of Mali, which is large and pretty. It is an elevated plateau but not very hilly, and is covered with vegetation. The pepper vine grows in this island, as in Kandarina1 and Jirbatan,2 but it is found nowhere else but in these places”—so wrote Al Idrisi, a Muhammadan geographer settled at the court of Roger II of Sicily in the end of the eleventh century A.D. He then desorbed the pepper vines, and-explained how white pepper is obtained from pepper “beginning to ripen or oven before ” and finally he assorted that the pepper vine leaves curl over the bunches of grapes to protect them from rain and return to their natural position afterwards—“ a surprising fact5” !!
NOTEs: 1. Afterwards written as Fandarina by the author. Conf. pp. 72, 192, 194, 195.
2. Conf. pp. 10, 195, footnote 234. END OF NOTEs
Al Idrisi obtained his information chiefly from books and from travellers ; he had no personal knowledge of the countries in India about which he wrote, and his account is much confused. The following is his description of the places named above:
“From Bana (Tanna) to Fandarina is 4 days’ journey. Fandrina is a town built at the mouth1 of a river which comes from Manibar2 where vessels from India and Sind cast anchor. The inhabitants are rich, the markets well supplied, and trade flourishing. North of this town there is a very high mountain3 covered with trees, villages and flocks. The cardamom3 grown here and forms the staple of a considerable trade. It grows like the grains of hemp, and the grains are enclosed in pods.”
NOTEs: 1. Query—Did the Kotta River at this period flow into the Agalapula and find an outlet into the sea at Pantalayini KoIIum ? It is not improbable. Conf. p. 12.
2. Malabar— Conf. p. 279, footnote 1.
3. The portion of the Wynad plateau lying north-east of P. Kollam has always been and is still celebrated for the excellence of its cardamoms. END OF NOTEs
“From Fandarina to Jirbatan, a populous town on a little river,4 is five days. It is fertile in rice and grain, and supplies provisions to the markets of Sarandib. Pepper grows in the neighbouring mountains.”
NOTEs: 4. This description fits Srikandapmam — Conf. p. 195. But in another place the author apparently places Jirbatan on the sea-coast. END OF NOTEs
At this time the rising power in the south were the Hoysala Ballalas of Halabid ; they had in Al Idrisi's time apparently already obtained a footing on the West Coast, for among the places he mentions is Saimur which “ belongs to a country whose king is called Balhara,” and Nahrwara (? Honere) seems to have been at this time also in their possession.
In the first half of the twelfth century the Ballala king Vishnuvardhana took Talakad, the Ganga or Kongu capital, and brought that dynasty to a close, and a few years later (A.D. 1182 or 1189) the suzerains of the Gangas or Kongus—the Western Chalukya dynasty—came to an end in the reign of Somesvara Deva, the last king of that branch of the family, their territory being swallowed up by the Yadavas of Devagiri coming from the North, and by Bijjala of the Kulabhuriya Kula who was in turn supplanted by the Ballalas advancing from the South.
About this time and a little later the Cholas were kept busy by invasions from Ceylon, apparently in aid of the Pandyas, mild by attacks of the Orungal dynasty in the North, and although the Ballalas took Canara which they called Kerala it does not yet appear that they had anything to do with Kerala proper, that is, Malabar.
In 1263-75 Al Kazwini, another Muhammadan geographer, compiled his account of India from the works of others, and among other places he mentions “Kulam5, a large city in India. Mis’ar bin Muhalhil, who visited the place, says that he did not see either a temple or an idol there. When their king dies the people of the place choose another from China6. There is no physician in India except in this city. The buildings are curious, for the pillars are (covered with) shells from the backs of fishes. The inhabitants do not eat fish, nor do they slaughter1 animals, but they eat carrion”, and he goes on to describe the pottery made there and contrasts it with China ware. “There are places here where the teak tree grows to a very great height, exceeding oven 100 cubits.”
NOTEs: 5. Quilon.
6. Was Quilon at this time a Chinese Factory?
1. This looks as if the people had been Jains or Buddhists. END OF NOTEs
A more trustworthy account of the coast than Al Kazwini's is to be found in the Book of Travels containing the adventures of Messer Marco Polo and his companions in the East. Marco Polo's first visit to India on a mission from Kublai Khan was about 1290 A.D, and on his return journey in the suite of the Princess Kokachin he passed up the coast in 1292 or in 1293, the probabilities being in favour of the latter year.
“When you leave the Island of Sedan and sail westward about sixty miles you come to the great province of Malabar2 which is styled India the Greater; it is the best of all the Indies and is on the main land.”
NOTEs: 2.This name- is applied by Marco Polo to the country east of the Ghauts comprising the ancient territories of the Pallavas of Kanchi, of the Cholas, and of the Pandyas. Conf. footnote, p. 279. END OF NOTEs
After giving an interesting account of the countries east of the Ghauts, and after describing the “kingdom of Coilum3 and the “country called Comari”4 , a short chapter5 is devoted to the “kingdom of Eli”.6
NOTEs: 3. Quilon (South Kollam).
4. Cape Comorin.
5. Colonel Yule’s Marco Polo, 2nd edition, Vol. II, p. 374.
6. Mount Deli —Conf. pp. 6, 229. END OF NOTEs
“Eli is a kingdom towards the west, about 300 miles from Comari. The people are idolaters, and have a king, and are tributary7 to nobody ; and have a peculiar language. We will tell you particulars about their manners and their products, and you will better understand things now because we are drawing near to places that are not so outlandish.
NOTEs: 7. This statement confirms the assertion made in the text that the Ballalas had nothing to do with Kerala proper. END OF NOTEs
“There is no proper harbour in the country, but there are many great rivers with good estuaries8, wide and deep. Pepper and ginger grow there, and other spices in quantities. The king is rich in treasure but not very strong in forces. The approach to his kingdom, however, is so strong by nature that no one can attack him, so he is afraid of nobody.
NOTEs: 8. Conf. pp. 9, 10, 11. END OF NOTEs
“And you must know that if any ship enters their estuary and anchors there, having been bound for some other port, they seize9 her and plunder the cargo. For they say, ‘you were bound for somewhere else, and ’tis-God has sent you hither to us, so we have a right to all your goods.’
NOTEs: 9. Conf. p. 171. END OF NOTEs
And they think it no sin to act thus. And this naughty custom prevails all over those provinces of India, to wit, that if a ship be driven by stress of weather into some other port than that to which it was bound, it is sure to be plundered. But if a ship comes bound originally to the place, they receive it with all honour and give it duo protection. The ships of Manzi1 and other countries that come hither in summer lay in their cargoes in six or eight days and depart as fast as possible, because there is no harbour other than the river2 mouth, a mere roadstead and banks, so that it is perilous to tarry there.
NOTEs: 1. China, south of the Hwang-ho (Yellow river)—Yule’s Marco Polo, II, 8. It is possible that the Chinese had at this time one or more settlements on the coast. (Conf. p. 281.)
2. This refers no doubt to the rivers (Nilesvaram and Eli mala) which unite and enter the see immediately north of Mount Deli (p. 9)). In this neighbourhood, at a place called Cachchilpattanam, there was a settlement of trading foreigners who, with the Jews of Anjuvannam and Christians of Manigramam, formed three of the four settlements [cheri) of foreigners referred to in Deed No. 2, Appendix XII— See full details in the notice of Chirakkal taluk regarding this settlement in "The Legend of Payanur”. END OF NOTEs
The ships of Manzi indeed are not so much afraid of those roadsteads as others are, because they have such huge wooden anchors which hold in all weather.
“There are many Lions and other wild beasts here, and plenty of game, both beast and bird.”
There can be no reasonable doubt that the “Kingdom of Eli” here referred to is identical with the kingdom of the Northern Kolattiris, whose original settlement was at Karipatt3 in Kurummattur amsam in Chirakkal taluk. The second most ancient seat, of the family was at the foot, of Mount Deli (Eli mala), and the site of one at least of their residences at the time of Marco Polo’s visit is probably still marked by a small but very ancient temple—with a stone inscription in Vatteluttu characters—not very far from the big Ramantalli temple on the banks of the river near Kavvayi, and lying close in under the mount on its western or sea face.
NOTEs: 3. Conf. p. 236. END OF NOTEs
While residing at this Eli Kovilagam or king’s house, the family seems to have split up—after the fashion of Malayali taravads—into two brandies, one of which, (Odeamangalam) settled at Aduthila in the Madayi amsam, while the other (Palli ) had various residences. The head of both branches (that is, the eldest male) was the Kolattiri for the time being. He, as ruling prince, lived apart from the rest of the family and had residences at Madayi4, Valarpattanam5 , and other places. Madayi was probably, as the Keralolpatti seems to indicate, the more ancient of the two seats of the ruling prince, for down to the present day the Madayi Kava is looked on as the chief temple of the Kolattiri household goddess Bhagavati, and the next most important temple of the goddess is at the Kallarivatukal (Fencing School gateway) temple at Valarpattanam.
NOTEs: 4. Conf. p. 229.
5. Conf. p. 229. END OF NOTEs
After describing the kingdom of Eli, Marco Polo in what appears to be an interpolated passage proceeds : “Melibar6 is a great kingdom lying towards the West. The people are idolaters; they have a language of their own, and a king of their own, and pay tribute, to nobody.”
NOTEs: 6. Conf. pp. 279, 281, 282. END OF NOTEs
He then proceeds to describe the pirates of Melibar and of Gozurat, and their tactics in forming sea cordons with a large number of vessels, each five or six miles apart, communicating news to each other by means of fire or smoke, thereby enabling all the corsairs to concentrate on the point where a prize was to be found.
Then he goes on to describe the commerce : “There is in this kingdom a great quantity of pepper, and ginger, and cinnamon, and turbit, and of nuts of India. They also manufacture very delicate and beautiful buckrams. They also bring hither cloths of silk and gold and sendels ; also gold and silver, cloves and spikenard, and other fine spices, for which there is a demand here, and exchange them for the products of these countries.
“Ships come hither from many quarters, but especially from the great province of Manzi1. Coarse spices are exported hence both to Manzi and to the West, and that which is carried by the merchants to Aden goes on to Alexandria, but the ships that go in the latter direction are not one2 to ten of those that go to the eastward ; a very notable fact that I have mentioned before.”
NOTEs: 1. Conf. foot-note, p, 283.
2. The preponderance of the Malabar trade towards China and the East at this time is, as Marco Polo states, "a very notable fact". The Red Sea trade had suffered by the rise of the Muhammadan powers. END OF NOTEs
After giving short accounts of “Gozurat”, “ Tana”, “ Cambaet”, “ Semenat” and “ Kesmakoran” Marco Polo proceeds : “And so now let us proceed, and I will tell you of some of the Indian islands. And I will begin by two islands which are called Male3 and Female.”
NOTEs: 3. Conf. p. 261, where Hwon Thsang’s parallel tradition is given. END OF NOTEs
“When you leave this kingdom of Kesmakoran, which is on the mainland, you go by sea some 500 miles towards the south, and then you find the two islands, Male and Female, lying about thirty miles distant from each other. The people are all baptised Christians, but maintain the ordinances of the Old Testament4 ; thus when their wives are with child they never go now them till their confinement, or for forty days thereafter.
NOTEs: 4. "The islanders have, from time immemorial, adopted the precaution of separating lepers from among them. On the appearance of the disease the sufferer is called before the Kazi (Priest) and, if the leprosy is pronounced to be contagious, he is expelled to the north end of the island where a place is set apart for the purpose. A hut is built for him, and he subsists on supplies of food and water which his relatives bring at intervals and leave on the ground at a safe distance’- Mr. Winterbotham's official report on Minicoy, dated 31st May 1876. Conf. Leviticus Chapters XIII and XIV. END OF NOTEs
“In the island, however, which is called Male, dwell the men alone, without their wives or any other women. Every year when the month of March arrives the men all set out for the other island, and tarry there for three months, to wit, March, April, May, dwelling with their wives for that space. At the end of those three months they return to their own island, and pursue their husbandry and trade5 for the other nine months.
NOTEs: 5. "383 men were absent on voyages to Bengal and other places"—.Mr. Winterbotham'a report on Minicoy of 25th May 1876. END OF NOTEs
“They find on this island very fine ambergris.1 they live on flesh, milk and rice. They are capital fishermen2, and catch a great quantity of fine large sea-fish, and them they dry, so that all the year they have plenty of food, and also enough to sell to the traders who go thither. They have no chief except a Bishop, who is subject to the Archbishop of another island, of which we shall presently speak, called Socotra. They have also a peculiar language.
NOTEs: 1. Found on the Laccadives and Minicoy and considered a royalty.
2. "The pursuit of the mass-fish is the most lucrative (industry). The boats used in mass-fishing are built on the island. * * They are the finest boats I have seen in the East, and are managed most skilfully by the men of the island."_ Mr. Logan's official report on Minicoy, dated 28th February 1870, The mass-fish comprise two kinds of bonito ; the boats under full sail pass and repass through the shoals of these fish when they visit the neighbourhood of the island. Two men, provided with stout rods and short lines, trail long unbarbed hooks of white metal at the stern of each boat, and as the fish, mistaking those trailing hooks for fish-fry, dash at them and are hooked, the point of the rod is raised, and the fish without further ado is swung round into the boat, and, disengaging itself readily from the unbarbed hook, is left to flounder about in the bottom of the boat while the fisherman proceeds to capture another. While this is going on a third fisherman is busy in the bottom of the boat ladling out fish-fry of which a supply is kept ready to hand in a well in the centre of the boat. The catch is occasionally enormous and the dried fish is exported largely to Ceylon and other places. END OF NOTEs
“As for the children which their wives bear to them, if they be girls they abide with the mothers ; but if they be boys the mothers bring them up till they are fourteen, and then send them to the fathers. Such is the custom of these two islands. The wives do nothing but nurse their children and gather3 such fruits as their island produces : for their husbands do furnish4 them with all necessaries.”
NOTEs: 3. The gathering of coconuts is one of the chief occupations of the women of Minicoy. The collection is made monthly, and “each woman engaged in collecting nuts receives eight nuts a day and 4 per cent of the number she collects.”—Mr. Winterbotham's report on Minicoy, dated 26th May 1876.
4. "Every woman in the island is dressed in silk. The gowns fit closely round the neck and reach to the ankles. The upper classes wear red silk and ear-rings of peculiar fashion. The Melacheri women are restricted to the use of a dark striped silk of a coarser quality. Every husband must allow his wife at least one candy of rice, two silk gowns, and two under- cloths a year. He also presents her on marriage with a fine betel-pouch (brought from Galle) and a silver ornament containing receptacles for lime and tobacco, and instruments of strange forms intended for cleaning the oars and teeth.”- Mr. Winterbotham's report on Minicoy, dated 26th May 1876. END OF NOTES
There has been much debate whether such islands have over existed anywhere, for similar stories have a wide currency, and no small amount of speculation has been bestowed on the question as to what islands are specifically referred to by Marco Polo ; for as Colonel Yule observes,5 “Marco’s statement that they had a Bishop subject to the Metropolitan of Socotra certainly looks as if certain concrete islands had been associated with the tale.”
NOTEs: 5. Polo, II, p. 397. END OF NOTEs
The following facts, and the foot-notes appended to the text, make it not improbable that the Female Island referred to may have been Minicoy.
The following are extracts from an official report regarding the island, written in 1876 by a District Officer (Mr. H. M. Winterbotham) who visited the island in the early part of that year: — “One (custom) which, so far as I know, is without parallel amongst any society of Mussulmans is that the men are monogamous.1
NOTEs: 1. If the Minicovites were at one time "baptised Christians” (see Marco Polo’s account of the islanders) the fact would be accounted for, the custom having survived their conversion to Muhammadanism. END OF NOTEs
I was assured that it was an established custom that no man could have more than one wife at one time. When I took the census there were 1,179 women on the island and only 351 men. The other men were absent on their voyages. But when all are present on the island the women exceed the men by 20 per cent.”
“The women appear in public freely with their heads uncovered, and take the lead in almost everything except navigation. The census was made through them in a manner peculiar to the island. Orders were issued by Ali Malikhan to certain women in authority, and they called together an adult female from every house. About four hundred females assembled and told off the number of their households with much readiness and propriety.”
“After marriage the wife remains in her father's house,2 a very convenient custom when the men are mostly sailors, absent from the island a great part of the year. Three or four couples find accommodation in the same chamber, each enveloped in long-cloth mosquito curtains. If the daughters are numerous, they leave the parental roof in order of seniority, and the houses erected for them become their property. The men, I was told repeatedly, have no right of ownership over the houses.”
NOTEs: 2. Or rather her mother's -see what immediately follows. END OF NOTEs
From the facts as they exist even down to the present day, it is easy to understand how mariners casually visiting the island would he astounded to find none hut women, to receive them and everything arranged and managed by the women. The men who remained on the island would probably keep out of the way until the strangers cleared out. These islands (Laccadives and Mini coy) were notoriously the prey of sea-robbers in former days, and it would have fared badly with the remaining men if they had offered resistance.
In the Lusiad there is a vivid description of a company of Portuguese mariners running riot in an island of this description. Again, seeing that the islands described by Marco Polo are “Indian islands” and not either Arabian or African, it follows that the locality to be sought lay on the Indian side of the Arabian Sea, and the Island of Minicoy consequently better fulfils the description given than either the Kuria Muria Islands lying off the Arabian coast or any others lying nearer Africa. Shortly after Marco Polo’s visit, Southern India was convulsed by a Muhammadan irruption from the North under Malik Kafur (A.D. 1310).
It has sometimes been supposed that the Malabar coast fell in common with the rest of the peninsula before the Muhammadans at this time, but there is nothing to show that this was the case, and the name applied at this time by Marco Polo (1293A.D.) and by lbn Batuta (1342-47 A.D.) to the eastern portion of the peninsula—namely, Malabar—probably gave rise to the idea.
Chola and Pandya both however succumbed to the Muhammadans, and Kerala probably owed its immunity from attack to its ramparts of mountains and forests.
With the founding, however, of the Vijayanagar dynasty in 1336-50 a new political influence began to bear on the South, and it was about this time (1342-47 A.D.) that Sheik Ibn Batuta of Tangier’s came to Malabar.
The following interesting sketches of the coast at this period have been taken from an abridged account1 of his travels : — “We next came into the country of Malabar which is the country of black pepper. Its length is a journey of two months along the shore from Sindabur to Kawlam.2 The whole of the way by land lies under the shade of trees,3 and at the distance of every half mile there is a house4 made of wood, in which there are chambers fitted up for the reception of comers and goers, whether they be Moslems or infidels. To each of these there is a well, out of which they drink ; and over each is an infidel appointed to give drink.
NOTEs: 1. “The Travels of Ibn Bututa, etc.” by the Rev. Samuel Lee, B.D., London, Oriental Translation Committee, 1829.
2. South Kollam—Quilon.
3. The country must have been thickly planted (as now) with coconut and other palms.
4. From the description which follows, the water-pandals, still so common on all frequented roads in the hot season, seem to be here alluded to. END OF NOTEs
“To the infidels he supplies this in vessels ; to the Moslems he pours5 it in their hands. They do not allow the Moslems to touch their vessels, or to enter into their apartments ; but if any one should happen to eat out of one of their vessels, they break it to pieces. But in most of their districts the Mussulman merchants have houses, and are greatly respected. So that Moslems who are strangers, whether they are merchants or poor, may lodge among them. But at any town in which no Moslem resides, upon any one’s arriving they cook, and pour out drink for him, upon the leaf of the banana ; and, whatever he happens to leave, is given to the dogs. And in all this space of two months’ journey, there is not a span6 free from cultivation. For everybody7 has here a garden, and his house is placed in the middle of it ; and round the whole of this there is a fence of wood, up to which the ground of each inhabitant comes. No one travels in these parts upon beasts of burden ; nor is there any horse8 found, except with the king, who is therefore the only person who rides.
NOTEs: 5. This practice is still followed. For certain low castes a long spout is provided, made from bamboo or from the midrib of the sago palm leaf. The low caste man stands at the end of the spout and receives the water in his hands, and thus the high caste dispenser of the drink is kept free from pollution by the too near approach of the drinker.
6. lbn Batuta probably exaggerates a little, but the land was evidently highly cultivated.
7. This description might be literally written of the Malabar of to-day.
8. Horses and ponies are still very few in numbers, notwithstanding the improvement in the roads of recent years. END OF NOTEs
“When, however, any merchant has to sell or buy goods, they are carried upon the backs1 of men, who are always ready to do so (for hire).
NOTEs: 1. Still largely true of the district. END OF NOTEs
“Every one of these men has a long staff,2 which is shod with iron at its extremity and at the top has a hook. When, therefore, he is tired with his burden, he sets up his staff in the earth like a pillar and places the burden upon it ; and when he has rested, he again takes up his burden without the assistance of another. With one merchant you will see one or two hundred of these carriers, the merchant himself walking. But when the nobles pass from place to place, they ride in a dula3 made of wood, something like a box, and which is carried upon the shoulders of slaves and hirelings. They put a thief4 to death for stealing a single nut, or even a grain of seed of any fruit, hence thieves are unknown among them; and should anything fall from a tree, none, except its proper owners, would attempt to touch it.
NOTEs: 2. Still occasionally to be seen.
3. Palanquin. The Manchal, a long and broad strip of canvass suspended at each end to a stout pole is more frequently seen now-a-days.
4. Conf. p. 174 and p. 293. END OF NOTEs
“In the country of Malabar are twelve kings, the greatest of whom has fifty thousand troops at his command ; the least five thousand or thereabouts. That which separates the district of one king from that of another is a wooden gate upon which is written : “ The gate of safety of such an one.”
“For when any criminal escapes from the district of one king and gets safely into that of another, he is quite safe ; so that no one has the least desire to take him so long as he remains there.
“Each of their kings succeeds to rule, as being sister’s5 son, not the son to the last. Their country is that from which black pepper is brought ; and this is the far greater part of their produce and culture. The pepper tree resembles that of the dark grape. They plant it near that of the coconut, and make framework6 for it, just as they do for the grape tree. It has, however, no tendrils, and the tree itself resembles a bunch of grapes. The leaves are like the ears of a horse ; but some of them resemble the leaves of a bramble. When the autumn arrive, it is ripe ; they then cut it, and spread it just as they do grapes, and thus it is dried by the sun. As to what some have said that they boil7 it in order to dry it, it is without foundation.
NOTEs: 5. Conf. pp, 153, 154 and 155.
6. The practice is different now, the vine is planted at the foot of jack, mango, and Murikku trees (Erythrina Indica) which serve as standards for the vine.
7. To make white pepper probably. END OF NOTEs
“I also saw in their country and on the sea-shores also, like the seed-aloe, sold by measure, just as meal and millet is.
* * *
“We next came to the town of Hili,8 which is large and situated upon an estuary of the sea. As far as this place come the ships of China,1 but they do not go beyond it; nor do they enter any harbour, except that of this place, of Kalikut and Kawlam.
NOTEs: 8. Eli or Mount Deli — Conf. pp. 6, 9, etc.
1. Conf. p. 284. END OF NOTEs
The city of Hili is much revered both by the Muhammadans and infidels on account of a mosque,2 the source of light and blessings, which is found in it. To this sea-faring persons make and pay their vows, whence its treasury is derived, which is placed under the control of the principal Moslem. The mosque maintains a preacher, and has within it several students, as well as readers of the Koran, and persons who teach writing.
NOTEs: 2. Conf. p. 194. The city referred to was probably Palayangadi (lit—old Bazaar). END OF NOTEs
“We next arrived at the city of Jarkannan,3 the king of which is one of the greatest on these coasts. We next came to Dadkannan,4 which is a large city abounding with gardens, and situated upon a mouth of the sea. In this are found the betel-leaf and nut, the coconut and colocassia. Without the city is a large pond5 for retaining water ; about which are gardens. The King is an infidel. His grandfather, who had become Muhammadan, built its mosque6 and made the pond. The cause of the grandfather’s receiving Islamism was a tree, over which he had built the mosque. This tree is a very great wonder ; its leaves are green, and like those of the fig, except only that they are soft. The tree is called Darakhti Shahadel (the tree of testimony), darakht meaning tree.
NOTEs: 3. Afterwards written Jarafattan — Conf. pp. 194, etc.
4. Afterwards written Badafattam. This no doubt infers to Valarpattam — Conf. pp. 10 and l1
5. This probably refers to the magnificent tank at the Chirakkal Kovilagam of the Kolattiri family where the Chirakkal Raja now usually resides.
6. This fact strengthens the conclusion at p. 194, that the fourth of the original mosques was not placed at Valarpattanam. END OF NOTEs
“I was told in these parts that this tree does not generally drop its leaves ; but at the season of autumn in every year, one of them changes its colour, first to yellow, then to red ; and that upon this is written with the pen of power, “There is no God but God ; Muhammad is the Prophet of God ;” and that this leaf alone falls. Very many Muhammadans, who were worthy of belief, told me this; and said that they had witnessed its fall, and had read the writing ; and further, that every year, at the time of the fall, credible persons among the Muhammadans, as well as others of the infidels, sat beneath the tree waiting for the fall of the leaf; and when this took place, that the one-half was taken by the Muhammadans, as a blessing, and for the purpose of curing their diseases ; and the other by the king of the infidel city, and laid up in his treasury as a blessing ; and that this is constantly received among them.
“Now the grandfather of the present king could read the Arabic ; he witnessed, therefore, the fall of the leaf, read the Inscription, and, understanding its import, became a Muhammadan accordingly. At the time of his death he appointed his son, who was a violent infidel, to succeed him. This man adhered to his own religion, cut down the tree, tore up its roots, and effaced every vestige of it. After two years the tree grew, and regained its original state, and in this it now is. This king died suddenly ; and none of his infidel descendants, since his time, has done anything to the tree.
“We next came to the city of Fattan1 (Battan), the greater part of the inhabitants of which are Brahmins, who are held in great estimation among the Hindoos. In this place there was not one Muhammadan. Without it was a.mosque, to which the Muhammadan strangers resort. It is said to have been built by certain merchants, and afterwards to have been destroyed by one of the Brahmins, who had removed the roof of it to his own house. On the following night, however, this house was entirely burnt, and in it the Brahmin, his followers, and all his children. They then restored the mosque, and in future abstained from injuring it ; whence it became the resort of the Muhammadan strangers.
NOTEs: 1. This referred probably to Darmapattanamm — Conf. p. 194. END OF NOTEs
“After this we came to the city of Fandaraina,2 a beautiful and large place, abounding with gardens and markets. In this the Muhammadans have three districts, in each of which is a mosque, with a judge and preacher. We next came to Kalikut3 one of the great ports of the district of Malabar, and in which merchants from all parts are found. The king of this place is an infidel, who shaves his chin just as the Haidari Fakeers of Room do. When we approached this place, the people came out to meet us, and with a large concourse brought us into the port. The greatest part of the Muhammadan merchants of this place are so wealthy, that one of them can purchase the whole freightage of such vessels as put in here, and fit out others like them.
NOTEs: 2. Pantalayini or Pantalayini Kollam. North Kollam—Conf. pp. 72, 194.
3. The modern Calicut. END OF NOTEs
“Here we waited three months for the season to set sail for China : for there is only one season in the year in which the sea of China is navigable. Nor then is the voyage undertaken, except in vessels of the three descriptions following : the greatest is called a junk, the middling size a zaw, the least a kakam. The sails of these vessels are made of cane-reeds, woven together like a mat ; which, when they put into port, they leave standing in the wind. In some of these vessels there will be employed a thousand men, six hundred of these sailors, and four hundred soldiers. Each of the larger ships is followed by three others, a middle sized, a third, and a fourth sized. These vessels are nowhere made except in the city of Elzaitum in China, or in Sin Kilan, which is Sin Elsin.
“They row in these ships with large oars, which may be compared to great masts, over some of which five, and twenty men will be stationed, who work standing. The commander of each vessel is a great Emir. In the large ships too they sow garden herbs and ginger, which they cultivate in cisterns (made for that purpose), and placed on the sides of them. In these also are houses constructed of wood, in which the higher officers reside with their wives ; but these they do not hire out to the merchants.
“Every vessel, therefore, is like an independent city. Of such ships as these, Chinese individuals will sometimes have large numbers; and, generally, the Chinese are the richest people in the world.
“Now when the season for setting out had arrived, the Emperor of Hindustan appointed one of the junks of the thirteen that were in the port for our voyage. El Malik Sambul therefore, who had been commissioned to present the gift, and Zahir Oddin, went on board, and to the former was the present carried. I also sent my baggage, servants, and slave-girls on board, but was told by one of them, before I could leave the shore, that the cabin which had been assigned to me was so small, that it would not take the baggage and slave-girls. I went, therefore, to the commander, who said, ‘There is no remedy for this ; if you wish to have a larger, you had better get into one of the kakams (third-sized vessels) ; there you will find larger cabins, and such as you want.’
“I accordingly ordered my property to be put into the kakam. This was in the afternoon of Thursday, and I myself remained on shore for the purpose of attending divine service on the Friday. During the night, however, the sea arose, when some of the junks struck upon the shore, and the greatest part of those on board were drowned ; and the rest were saved by swimming. Some of the junks, too, sailed off, and what became of them I know not. The vessel in which the present was stowed, kept on the sea till morning, when it struck on the shore, and all on board perished, and the wealth was lost. I had indeed seen from the shore the Emperors servants, with El Malik Sambul and Zahir Oddin, prostrating themselves almost distracted ; for the terror of the sea was such as not to be got rid of.
“I myself had remained on shore having with me my prostration carpet and ten dinars, which had been given me by some holy men. These I kept as a blessing, for the kakam had sailed off with my property and followers. The missionaries of the king of China were on board another junk, which struck upon the shore also. Some of them were saved and brought to land, and afterwards clothed by the Chinese merchants.
“I was told that the kakam, in which my property was, must have put into Kawlam.1 I proceeded therefore to that place by the river. It is situated at the distance of ten days from Kalikiit. After five days I came to Kanjarkara, which stands on the top of a hill, is inhabited by Jews, and governed by an Emir who pays tribute to the king of Kawlam. All the trees (we saw) upon the banks of this river, as well as upon the sea-shores, were those of the cinnamon and bakam2 , which constitute the fuel of the inhabitants ; and with this we cooked our food. Upon the tenth day we arrived at Kawlam, which is the last city on the Malabar coast. In this place is a large number of Muhammadan merchants ; but the king is an infidel.
NOTEs: 1. Southern Kollam — Quilon,
2. Caesalpinia sappan. END OF NOTEs
“In this place I remained a considerable time, but heard nothing of the kakam and my property. I was afraid to return to the Emperor, who would have said, ‘How came you to leave the present and stay upon the shore?5 for I know what sort of a man he was in cases of this kind. I also advised with some of the Muhammadans who dissuaded me from returning and said : ‘He will condemn you because you left the present : you had better, therefore, return by the river to Kalikut’.”
* * *
“I then left him for Hiuaur1 and then proceeded to Fakanaur2 and thence to Manjarur3, thence to Hili, Jarafattan, Badafattan, Fandaraina. and Kalikut, mention of which has already been made. I next came to the city of Shaliat,4 where the Shaliats are made, and hence they derive their name. This is a fine city ; I remained at it some time and there heard that the kakam has returned to China, and that my slave-girl had died in it ; and I was much, distressed on her account.
NOTEs: 1. Honer.
2. Barkur — Conf. p. 194.
3. Mangalore —Conf, p. 194.
4. Chaliyam, the Island lying between the Beypore and Kadalundi rivers (p. 13) - Conf. p. 194. END OF NOTEs
“The infidels, too had seized upon my property, and my followers had been dispersed among the Chinese and others.”
Ibn Batuta, twice afterwards visited Calicut and other places on the coast, but no further particulars of interest are recorded. Setting sail finally from Calicut he arrived at Zafar in April 1347 and thence returned to Egypt and North Africa.
The Muhammadans continued their raids into Southern India, during the fourteenth century, and in 1374, in one of these, under Mujabid Shah of the Baluimni dynasty, they came as far south, as Rameswaram, but the rapid rise and extension of the Vijayanagar Raj in the last half of the century put an end for a time to these Muhammadan raids into the South.
There can be no doubt, however, that even in Malabar, which was free from such expeditions, Muhammadan influence was on the increase, and it is not at all improbable that it was about this time (end of fourteenth century A.D.) that the influence of the Zamorins began to preponderate in Malabar ; and this there can be no doubt was brought about (as indeed the Keralolpatti indicates) by a close alliance with the Muhammadan traders attracted to Calicut by the freedom of trade enjoyed there.
One of the first effects of this Muhammadan alliance seems to have been that the trading rivals of the Muhammadans, the Chinese merchants, whose fleets Ibn Batuta so graphically describes received some bad usage at the Zamorin’s hands, and deserted Calicut and the Malabar coast generally after undertaking an expedition of revenge in which they inflicted no small slaughter on the people of Calicut. This happened, Colonel Yule thinks,5 about the beginning of the fifteenth century.
NOTEs: Marco Polo, II, 381. END OF NOTEs
There is certainly no mention made by Abdu-r Razzak6 of Chinese trade, except that the sea-faring population of Calicut were nick-named, at the time of his visit. (1442 A.D.), “Chini Buchagan” (China boys) ; and, as he says, that the trade with Mecca was chiefly in pepper and that at Calicut there were “in abundance varieties brought from maritime counties, especially from Abyssinia, Zirbad, and Zanzibar,” it is probable that the preponderance of the Malabar trade with China and the East, noticed1 by Marco Polo, had by this time given place to a trade with the West in the hands of Muhammadan merchants, and in proof that Muhammadans were then both numerous and influential at Calicut, it may be cited that there were when Abdu-r Razzak visited the place, two cathedral mosques (Jamath mosques) at Calicut.
NOTEs: 1. Sec p. 285. END OF NOTEs
Abdu-r- Razzak gives a very interesting account of his sojourn at Calicut, which he describes as a “perfectly safe harbour.” The Calicut port is, and from the shelving nature of the sea-bottom probably always will be, an open roadstead, so that the traveller intended to convoy that the safety of its harbour depended on other circumstances than the nature of its shores, and these he proceeds to describe thus —
“Such security and justice reign in that city that rich merchants bring to it from maritime countries large cargoes of merchandise which they disembark and deposit in the streets and market-places, and for a length of time leave it without consigning it to any one’s charge or placing it under a guard. The officers of the Custom House have it under their protection, and night and day keep guard round it. If it is sold they take a customs duty of 2½ per cent ; otherwise they offer no kind of interference.”
This corroborates in a very remarkable way the tradition2 preserved in the Keralolpatti that it was owing to the security of trade which merchants found at Calicut that they were induced to settle there. Abdu-r-Razzak also notices that wrecked vessels were not taken at Calicut by the authorities. The people went about naked, bearing “a Hindi dagger' (bright) as a drop of water” in one hand and in the other a shield “of cow’s hide large as a portion of cloud.”
NOTEs: 1. Sec p. 280. END OF NOTEs
King and beggar were both thus attired, but Mussulmans dressed in costly garments. The king was called “Samuri” and the traveller noticed the peculiar law of inheritance in force.
“No one becomes king by force of arms,” he observed, and seemed astonished at the fact. At his audience with the king he was made to sit down and his letter was read, but “The Samuri paid little respect to my embassy so leaving the court I returned home.”
His presents while en route, had been taken by pirates, and this no doubt contributed to his cold reception. The result was that he remained “in that wretched place, a comrade of trouble, and a companion of sorrow” for some time.
At last came a herald from Vijayanagar with a letter to the Samuri “desiring that the ambassador of His Majesty the Khakan-i-Said should be instantly sent to him” the Raja of Vijayanagar, and the traveller thereupon remarked : —“Although the Samuri is not under his authority, nevertheless he is in great alarm and apprehension from him, for it is said that the king of Bijanagar has 300 sea-ports, every one of which is equal to Kalikot, and that inland his cities and provinces extend over a journey of three months.”
There was evidently a settled and independent Government at Calicut, and the pleasing account given of the security there afforded to merchants accounts for the pre-eminence to which the city of Calicut rose about this time. The trade in Malabar products seems to have been exclusively in the hands of Muhammadan merchants, and it may be safely concluded that, after the retirement of the Chinese, the power and influence of the Muhammadans were on the increase, and indeed there exists a tradition that in 1489 or 1490 a rich Muhammadan came to Malabar, ingratiated, himself with the Zamorin, and obtained leave to build additional Muhammadan mosques.
The country would no doubt have soon been converted to Islam either by force or by conviction, but the nations of Europe were in the meantime busy endeavouring to find a direct road to the pepper country of the East.
The first assured step in this direction was taken when Bartholomew Dias sailed round the “Cape of Storms” in I486. The Cape was promptly rechristened the “Cape of Good Hope,” and the direct road to India by sea was won.