Commentary on
William Logan’s ‘Malabar Manual’


As per this book, Malabar, the location of Kadathanad is Badagara and thereabouts. In certain other locations, the precise location is mentioned as Puthuppanam. However, these two are more or less very near places.

QUOTE: Puttuppattanam (new town) was at one time the seat of the Southern Regent of Kolattunad. END OF QUOTE.

As per this book, the king of this place was a sort of ‘lord of pirates’. The place is the much mentioned as the location of Kalari (Vadakkan Kalari). Vadakkan Kalari is a very sophisticated martial arts. It is not clearly known as to from where this martial arts reached here. The problem that this martial art possesses is that it was very much twined with the feudal language of Malabari. As of now, the feudal language codes of Malayalam have replaced the Malabari codes.

This martial art, though currently mentioned as part of the heritage of Kerala, is actually historically part of the heritage of North Malabar. It does not seem to have any link to the traditions of Travancore, where possibly such traditions are connected to Tamilnadu. At the same time, it is doubtful if this martial art has been of any use in confronting any kind of military attacks. For, the language codes are feudal, and it would be quite difficult to assemble different population groups in the regimentation required in Kalari. Many persons would not like to be subordinated thus to any guru or teacher other than their own acknowledged superior.

Pazhassiraja’s insurgency against his uncle ultimately resulted in a fight with the English Company’s local Kolkars. It is seen mentioned by current-day Kerala spin-tale wishy-washy historians that he had used this martial arts in his fight against the English Company’s Kolkars. It is actually curious that there is no mention of this martial art in this book, Malabar.

The only time some kind of martial arts expertise in mentioned is with regard to one Mappilla incident and two times with regard to the Mamamkam festival at Tirunavaya.

QUOTE: 1. Mappilla boats rowed by eight or ten men with four or six more to assist, all of whom (even the boatmen) practised with the “sword and target” at leas

2. There were but three Men that would venture on that desperate Action, who fell in with Sword and Target among the Guards


Another time the term ‘Sword and Target’ is mentioned when the Kolattiri visited Da Gama at Cannanore.

Whether all the kings and princes of the location were exponents in Kalari is a debatable point. From their general attributes, it does not seem that they had any inclination for any kind of dedicated programmes. Whether Pazhassiraja was an exponent or expert in this art is not known. And it may not mean much also. For, his real fight was against his uncle. And his aim was to get the kingship which his uncle was cunningly avoiding in conceding to him. Kalari has no meaning this issue.

However, it is seen mentioned that there were such ‘champions’ in most of the villages who would fight for others to settle feuds and challenges. Even though they are currently being mentioned as ‘great’ persons, it can be really doubtful if they were that great for the socially higher persons. Even the Vadakkan Pattukal, which contain many stories of such persons and their exploits, were actually the ballads and songs sung by the women working in the paddy fields. So, it might be true that these fighters and champions were their heroes. Not the heroes of the higher grade families.

Moreover, in spite of all claims of so many great martial art professionals, including females, when the Mysorians arrived, there were actually none to confront them. In fact, almost the whole of the Hindu (Brahmin), Ambalavasis and Nayar populations ran off. Whether the Marumakkathaya Thiyyas also ran off is not seen mentioned. However, since the Muslim invaders were actually targeting only the Hindu (Brahmin), Amabalavasi and Nayars, it might be possible that the Thiyyas and the lower castes were left unmolested. This also cannot be said for sure. For raiding parties, in the midst of the melee of plundering and molesting, would not stop to check the caste of anyone.

QUOTE: Hamilton paid him a return visit on shore at “his palace which was very meanly built of Reeds and covered with Coconut Leaves, but very neat and clean END OF QUOTE.

Hamilton was actually an interloper. Meaning he was a British man who was wandering in the location near English Company Factory on his own, and more or less trying to give a perspective that was not from the Company’s view point.

However, his description of the palace of the king has to be noted. For, in modern history versions, especially in movies and such, there is a tendency to show grand and majestic buildings as these palaces. See the words; It was ‘very meanly build of Reeds, and covered with Coconut leaves’.

QUOTE: “I do not certainly know how far Southerly this Prince’s Dominions reach along the Sea Coast, but I believe to Tecorie, about 12 miles from Mealie, and in the half way is Cottica, which was famous formerly for privateering on all Ships and Vessels that traded without their Lord’s Pass.” END OF QUOTE.

Piracy was crushed by the English rule in the subcontinent. The sea routes became safe.

QUOTE: Hamilton further notices the “sacrifice Rock” lying off Cottica, about 8 miles in the sea—so called, tradition says, because “when the Portuguese first settled at Calicut, the Cottica cruisers surprised a Portuguese vessel and sacrificed all their Prisoners on that Rock. END OF QUOTE.

It would be quite nonsensical to think that this was an of ‘freedom fight’. For, the current-day India composes of various bloodlines, including that of the Portuguese. As to the persons who attacked the Portuguese, they were attacking them only to protect their own various interests.