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Commentary on
William Logan’s ‘Malabar Manual’
It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!
The Zamorin and other apparitions

It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!


In the various history writings of the land, there are some names that are given a more that life-size dominance. One such is the word Zamorin. Its colloquial name is Samoori or in modern Malayalam Samoothiri.

When one reads the history that encompasses a few centuries, one finds that the various native kings change in the various kingdoms. Then the Continental Europeans arrive; the Portuguese, the Dutch and the French. Then the English comes.

In all these histories, some native kings are seen to remain in a un-dying form. One such is the Zamorin. Another is the Beebi of the minute kingdom inside Cannanore town. Then there are others like the Nawab of Carnatic etc.

Actually the persons do change across the years. Yet, their individual names are not seen mentioned much. They sort of exist like the Phantom, the Ghost who walks!

QUOTE: an agreement with “Kishen, Zamorin Raja of Calicut,” investing him with the sole management of all the countries heretofore included in the province of Calicut, which are or may be conquered by the British troops END OF QUOTE.

The name ‘Kishen’ is seen mentioned in the above quote.

As to the Zamorian, I think the word mentioned in English and the Continental European languages must have struck the imagination of those people. Far in the remote eastern mystical lands, there is a ‘great Emperor’, the Zamorin.

Actually the Calicut kingdom was a very tiny one. Its mainstay of existence was the support given by the king of Egypt, whose one main source of revenue must have been the pepper trade to Europe, monopolised by Egyptian traders. Even the kingdom Palghat in the east did not concede to the supremacy of Calicut with or without demur. Nor did Valluvanaad to the south.

Just beyond the Korapuzha to the north was the kingdom of the Kadathanad. And far at the southern end of the subcontinent, Travancore was to become a far more powerful kingdom than Calicut had ever been. This rise of Travancore was totally due to the support given by the English East India Company.

QUOTE: The king was sitting in his chair which the factor” (who had preceded Da Grama with the presents) “had got him to sit upon: he was a very dark man, half-naked, and clothed with white cloths from the middle to the knees ; END OF QUOTE.

In all probability, the Zamorin would be just like a typical landlord of Malabar, who had the seaport in his areas among the areas which were under his control or ownership. However, beyond that he might even be much connected to seafaring communicates, who are generally kept at a distance by the ‘higher castes’. But then, there is nothing to denote that kings of Calicut did go for sea-travel. For, it was dangerous when accosted by rude pirates, and also a source of defilement, when accosted by lower caste seafaring populations.

May be he had some dark-skin Tamil bloodline. For generally the people in Malabar, unconnected to the fishermen folks were fair in complexion.

QUOTE: “On the other side stood another page, who held a gold cup with a wide rim into which the king spat; END OF QUOTE.

The spitting would be after chewing the betel leaves. It would be done by holding two fingers pressed on the mouth. It is a style that has to be developed with meticulous practise. A barbarian and uncivilised act aimed at protruding some kind of dominance.

QUOTE: “And he (the Zamorin) and his country are the nest and resting place for stranger thieves, and those be called ‘Moors of Carposa,’ because they wear on their heads long red hats ; and thieves part the spoils that they take on the sea with the King of Calicut, for he giveth leave unto all that will go a roving liberally to go ; in such wise that all along that coast there is such a number of thieves, that there is no sailing in those seas, but with great ships, and very well armed ; or else they must go in company with the army of the Portugals.” — (Eng. Translation.) END OF QUOTE.

That was the words of Cæsar Frederick, a merchant from Venice, writing around 1570s.

But then, the king of Calicut was the person who could arrange the pepper for the merchants. And he was in the control of the Arabian merchants who would not allow any other trading team to come into direct contact with him.

QUOTE: But it very soon transpired that all that the Zamorin wanted was to get assistance against the Portuguese for the conquest of Cranganore and Cochin, and when the English ships left without assisting him, very scant courtesy was shown to the ten persons left behind, who were to have founded a factory at Calicut END OF QUOTE.

The English trading ships came for trade. However, the local attitude was to make use of all these gullible merchants as some kind of mercenaries. The local kings and the various other population groups were not intent on setting up any kind of refined social set up. Their one and only ambition was to tumble down another social or political adversary. The continued maintenance of a huge section of the population as slaves or repulsive castes was a foregone conclusion. No one even bothered to even think of an alternative social set up, until the advent of the English colonial rule.

QUOTE: In 1788 the Zamorin was accordingly induced by a promise of the restoration of a portion of his territory to put forward some rather antiquated claims to suzerainty over Travancore. But being disgusted at the forcible conversions which followed the sultan’s advent, he drew back from the arrangement END OF QUOTE.

It is quite funny to note that the then king of Calicut could be persuaded by Sultan Tippu to support him, on being promised that the Travancore kingdom would be brought under him. It might be remembered here that the Kolathiri raja of Cannanore and beyond had been seduced by Hyder Ali, Tippu’s father to support him on the promise that he would be made the king of Calicut. The title Samoori could have had a definite ‘verbal greatness’. Oh, to be the Samoori!

Here the Samoori is being seduced by the promise that he would be the ruler of Travancore!

QUOTE: 1. The Padinyaru Kovilakam branch of the Zamorin’s family, already noticed, possessing great influence in the country, was entrusted with the collection of the district of Nedunganad by the Eralpad Raja, the managing heir apparent of the Zamorin.

On the strength of this the Padinyaru K. Raja attempted to render himself independent of the Zamorin. The dispute was carried on to such lengths that Captain Burchall was obliged to seize his person at Cherupullasseri. He died there a day or two afterwards, and at the instance of the Zamorin his brother and nephew were put under restraint, and released only upon the Kilakka Kovilakam Raja standing security for their good behaviour and payment of arrears of revenue amounting to one lakh of rupees

2. An attempt was made by two of the Rajas of the Padinyaru Kovilakam (western palace) of the Zamorin’s house to assassinate him (the king of Calicut) because he failed to procure them their restoration to Nedunganad. Though severely wounded, he recovered under the treatment of Surgeon Wye END OF QUOTE.

This was the state of affairs inside the ruling family of tiny Calicut, in a period of relative peace. The words ‘He died there a day or two afterwards’ also is quite suspicious. The native-kolkars or peons (Nayars) who did all these kinds of custody taking of persons would not leave a chance to beat up a person in their custody.

QUOTE: His (the king of Calicut’s) demand for the restoration of Pulavayi was left in suspense to be settled by the Supravisor as its Nayar chiefs were openly resisting the attempts of the Zamorin to interfere in the concerns of their country. END OF QUOTE.

So it is seen that the king of Calicut was not the acknowledged leader of the Nayars of South Malabar.

QUOTE: They granted one per cent of the land collection of the Zamorin’s districts to Shamnath, a Palghat Brahman and the Sarvvadi Karyakkaran or chief minister of the Zamorin, for services rendered by him to the Company. END OF QUOTE.

No comment.

QUOTE: On 15th November 1806 the Principal Collector, Mr. Warden, and the Zamorin reduced to terms the understanding with the latter and his family in regard to the payment of the malikhana allowance (or one-fifth share of the revenues of their districts) which had been set apart for their maintenance.

The family receives Rs. 1,32,163 odd per annum, and it is “considered as the security for the good and dutiful behaviour towards the Company’s Government of each and every member of the Rajeum (Rajyam) or family to which it may now and hereafter be payable. END OF QUOTE.

I think this was commencing times of the famous Privy Purse, or the pension given to the erstwhile rulers whose areas had been taken over by the English administration. It was one of the Indian prime ministers who stopped this suddenly inside India. What happened in Pakistan is not known to me. This sudden stopping was a populist political action by a mediocre politician who literally got everything on a silver platter from the English administration. Many small-time royal families went into severe destitution with this.

QUOTE: Kavalappara under its own Nayar chief owed a sort of nominal allegiance both to the Cochin Raja and to the Zamorin. The Commissioners eventually decided in favour of his independence. END OF QUOTE.

There is a missed information in all this. Why did the native-rulers concede to the leadership of the English, when they would not have allowed anyone among them to dominate? The answer lies in the fact that the native rulers and their henchmen are feudal-language speaker. A subordination to one among them would pull down the indicant word levels of such words as You, Your, Yours, He, His, Him, She, Her, Hers etc. to dirt levels in the hands and minds of several persons. In the case of subordination to the native-English, such a terror was not there at all.

QUOTE: But the Raja of Palghat applied to Hyder Ali, then Foujdar of Dindigul, in the service of Chick Deo Raj, the nominal sovereign of Mysore. On this application Hyder Ali sent a force under his brother-in-law, Muckh doom Sahib, who drove back the Zamorin’s Nayars END OF QUOTE.

This is how the Mysorean’s got a taste for Malabar.

QUOTE: the gauntlet of the Zamorin’s 30,000 spears at Tirunavayi in Ponnani taluk every twelfth year. END OF QUOTE.

Whether the number 30,000 is mere bluff might need to be checked. The quote is about the Mahamakkam festival at Tirunavayi.

QUOTE: 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. END OF QUOTE.

That was a quote from Abdu-r-Razzak’s writings (1442 A.D.). The beggar looked like a king or the king looked like a beggar?

If it is the former, the place was quite rich like Japan, where even the lowest classes have fabulous dresses. Or if it is the latter, the place must be quite different.


Commentary                MMVol 1               MMVol 2

Book Profile

1. My aim

2. The information divide

3. The layout of the book

4. My own insertions

5. The first impressions about the contents

6. India and Indians

7. An acute sense of not understanding

8. Entering a terrible social system

9. The doctoring and the manipulations

10. What was missed or unmentioned, or even fallaciously defined


12. Nairs / Nayars

13. A digression to Thiyyas

14. Designing the background

15. Content of current-day populations

16. Nairs / Nayars

17. The Thiyya quandary

18. The terror that perched upon the Nayars

19. The entry of the Ezhavas

20. Exertions of the converted Christian Church

21. Ezhava-side interests

22. The takeover of Malabar

23. Keralolpathi

24. About the language Malayalam

25. Superstitions

26. Misconnecting with English

27. Feudal language

28. Claims to great antiquity

29. Piracy


31. Slavery

32. The Portuguese

33. The DUTCH

34. The French


36. Kottayam

37. Mappillas

38. Mappilla outrages against the Nayars and the Hindus

39. Mappilla outrage list

40. What is repulsive about the Muslims?

41. Hyder Ali

42. Sultan Tippu

43. Women

44. Laccadive Islands

45. Ali Raja

46. Kolathiri

47. Kadathanad

48. The Zamorin and other apparitions

49. The Jews


51. Hinduism

52. Christianity

53. Pestilence, famine etc.

54. British Malabar versus Travancore kingdom

55. Judicial

56. Revenue and administrative changes

57. Rajas

58. Forests

59. Henry Valentine Conolly

60. Miscellaneous notes

61. Culture of the land

62. The English efforts in developing the subcontinent

63. Famines

64. Oft-mentioned objections

65. Photos and pictures of the Colonial times

66. Payment for the Colonial deeds

67. Calculating the compensation

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