An impressionistic history of the
South Asian Subcontinent
VED from VICTORIA INSTITUTIONS
It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!
Vol 1 - An ephemeral glance at feudal languages!
52. The battering power of the language codes
Now, let me take up the earlier-hinted, historical event that had been noticed by the English officials in Malabar.
Malabar district was composed of two disconnected areas, called North Malabar and South Malabar. It is seen mentioned that there was only very limited social interaction between these two different locations. It was Korapuzha that separated these two adjacent geographical locations.
The population groups of these two different locations were also different from each other. The Nairs of North Malabar treated the Nairs of South Malabar with some kind of repulsion. They did bar marital relationship with the Nairs of south Malabar. I do not know why this was so. The reason might be that there are various layers of hierarchy among the Nairs themselves. And there might be differences in the origin of each of these different Nairs.
Below the Nairs came the Thiyyas. Among them also a very similar kind of mutual repulsion is seen reported. The Thiyyas of North Malabar followed the Marumakkathaya (Matriarchal) family system. That means the family property inheritance was to the females of the family. The family property would not move through the male members of the family to the next generation. They practically had no rights over the family property. There is something more to explain about this. However, that is another subject.
The Thiyyas of South Malabar were another caste. They followed the Makkathaya (Patriarchal) family system. The family property was inherited by the males descendants.
Marumakkathaya Thiyyas had barred all matrimonial alliances with the Makkathaya Thiyyas.
From this perspective, it is very clear that the two castes with the same name were actually totally disconnected population groups. More things can be mentioned about this. However, that can be done only later.
When the English administration conjoined North Malabar and South Malabar into one single district, many social changes happened in these locations.
When speaking in a very general manner, it can be mentioned that a comprehensive mental enhancement came upon the Thiyyas and some other lower classes. For, in many households, there would be someone who had joined the government service as an official, or there would be someone working in the English trading company, or at least someone working in an English household. Moreover, there were no degrading indicant words in English. Beyond all this, caste-based repulsion was something that was not seen in English people. All these things acted as a great positive item for the lower castes.
However, this enhancement of mental stature and acumen was to bring in acute complications in the social structure, hierarchy and discipline.
The Englishmen were enthralled by the opportunity to improve the lower placed populations. They exhibited a foolish feeling that they were doing some great kind of activity.
However, the Englishmen were totally unaware of great distress and pain, which this activity was creating to the socially higher placed populations. In fact, they acted as if they were birdbrains, in this regard.
Population groups which had been addressed and referred to with repulsion as Inhi (Nee), Chekkan (low class male), Pennu (low class female), enthane, enthale, Ittingal (all low-grade addressing/referring) are being allowed to come up. The Englishmen acted utter foolish. For, it was only quite intelligent to understand that if these persons are allowed to come up, they would use the same terrorising degrading words to their former social seniors, to degrade them.
Among the two different populations who were known as Thiyyas, there were land owner and slightly socially prominent persons. However, I think, the vast majority were the labour classes, engaged in low-grade, agricultural workers and such.
The customary dressing standards and such of the Thiyya labour classes were kept in tight control socially. I do not have any documents with me to say anything categorically about what was the state of the land owning Thiyyas, in this regard.
Image: The below given picture is of the Thiyya labour-class females working in a Coir factory in Tellicherry in the 1800s. Image from: Castes and Tribes of Southern India by Edgar Thurston
What has created the very obvious mood of enslavement, tragic disarray in personality, utter dissolution and degradation in the above-seen Thiyya females, were the despoiling verbal codes such as Inhi ഇഞ്ഞി (Nee) (Lowest grade You), Olu ഓള് (Aval) (lowest grade She), Ale അളെ (edi) (lowest grade addressing), Oruthi ഓരുത്തി (the low grade female), Thiyathi തീയത്തി (low grade menial servant), Ittingal ഐറ്റിങ്ങൾ (lowest grade menial class Them) &c. This continual and constant hammering was not only from their social seniors and higher castes and their children, but even from their own male folks and other family members, who themselves were on the rock bottom of the social hierarchy
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