« הקודםהמשך »
slight tax, and are bound to aid the capture of elephants, for which they are remunerated. Active in clearing lands, they are employed in this way by the inhabitants of the plain, but naturally supine, necessity alone impels them to industry.
Oorallays—The distinguishing characteristics of the Arreeamars, are less remarkable than the Oorallays, who wander over the Thodhuwullay Hills. Their numbers are very limited, some belong to
. the Circar, and are under a Kyeaulchy or manager, who rarely fails to make the most of his authority over them. They were (as also some other of the hill tribes) at a remote date, the particular property of the Alwanchayree Tumbracul. Their singular aversion to the buffalo, whose approach they anxiously avoid, is supposed to mark their purity as a caste, which ranks with the Moodavenmars. They are expert in the use of the bow, and particularly attached to their dogs, who share all their toils; they pay much respect to parental authority, are timid, mild, but even less amicable than the other tribes.
Predial Slaves -- Predial slavery* is common to a considerable portion of the Western Coast, but its extent throughout this principality is comparatively greater, and the prejudices of the people renders the degradation it entails more complete. Those subject to predial bondage are known under the general term of Sherramukkul (children of slavery) their name is connected with every thing revolting, shunned as if infected with the plague, the higher classes view their presence with a mixture of alarm and indignation; and even towns and niarkets would be considered as defiled by their approach. The Sherramukkul are attached to the Glebe, but real property in absolute market value not much above the cattle united with them in the same bondage, and greatly below them in estimation. But though a slavery deserving commiseration, it is by no means the most rigid form of that wretched state, they are treated with a capricious indifference or rigour, much of this arises from the prejudices of the Nairs, the Christians have no such excuse, but though divided in caste, they agree in oppression. Personal chastisement is not often inflicted, but they experience little sympathy. In sickness they are wholly left to nature, perhaps dismissed to poverty, and in age often abandoned.
Manumission is rarely practised, or even desired, indeed as a Polayen never possesses property of any kind, his freedom could only be productive of starvation; or a change of servitude, which occurs
* It is nearly unknown in Nunjaynaad.
when he is presented to a temple in compliance with some superstitious vow. The Sherramukkuls are held by various tenures, and the reluctance of their masters finally to dispose of them is so great, that the most pressing necessity can alone induce them to it. They are most frequently mortgaged or held in Punnium, that is the owner receives the full value, but retains the power of recalling the purchase, tenures but little adapted to improve the situation of the slave, whose services being received as equivalent to the interest of the debt, holds out an inducement to urge his labours, and diminish his comforts: they are not sold out of the country.* A very considerable number of Prædial slaves belong to Government, to whom they escheat as their property on the failure of heirs ; they are partly employed on Circar lands, partly rented out to the Ryots. A male being rated at about eight purrahs of paddy annually, (not quite two Rupees) the female less than this amount. If however hired from a Junmee (owner) the demand would be much greater. The value of a Polayen varies from six to ten Pagodas, that of a female may reach perhaps to twelve, but (amongst some of the caste of Sherramukkul) they are very rarely subject to sale.
In earlier times the murder of a slave was scarcely considered as a crime, the deed of transfer goes to say, “you may sell or kill him or her,” the latter privilege has now of course ceased. The Sherramukkuls are only employed in agriculture, they live in hovels situated on the banks of the fields, or nestle on the trees along their borders to watch the crop after the toils of the day, and are discouraged from erecting better accommodation, under the idea, that if more comfortable, they would be less disposed to move as the culture required. Their labours are repaid (if such can be called compensation) in grain. Three measures of paddy to a man, two to a woman, and one to a child, is their daily pittance, this is not regularly given being reduced to half on days when they do not work, and withheld entirely on symptoms of refractoriness. Harvest is a period of comparative plenty, but their meagre squalid appearance betrays the insufficiency of their diet, and the extreme hardships to which both sexes are equally doomed. They have no idea beyond their occupations, are never guilty of violence to their masters, are said to be obedient perhaps from the sluggish apathy of their character, which renders them unmindful of their lot. The external distinctions of the Proedial slaves are subject to great varieties, they are sometimes remarkable for an extreme darkness of complexion, whose jetty hue (which cannot be the effect of exposure,) approaches that of an African, but they are invariably stamped with the Hindu features, nor bear any traces of a distinct race. The bark (spatha) of the areka often furnishes their whole clothing, which at best never exceeds a bit of cloth, sufficient for the
* Of Travancore. Ed.
of decency. The hair allowed to grow wild, forms in time an immense mass, whose impurities cannot be imagined without shrinking. They are divided into several distinct classes, marked by some peculiarities, the Vaituwans-Vaituwans (literally hunters) or Konakens are
— ranked high, and prized for their superior fidelity and tractability. They are expert boatmen, and often employed in the manufacture of salt; their women as an article of sale are not much valued, the children of this class being the property of the father's master.
Polayens—The Polayens constitute much the largest number of the Prædial servants, they are split into three classes, Vulluva, Kunnaka, Moonry Polayen, each baser than the other. Husband and wife sometime serve different persons, but more frequently the same. The females of this class are given in usufruct, scarcely ever in complete possession; the eldest male child belongs to the master of the father, the rest of the family remain with the mother while young, but being the property of her owner revert to him when of an age to be useful, and she follows in the event of her becoming a widow.
Parriars—The Parriars also form a very considerable number of the slaves, the cast is divided into Perroom Parriar N. of Kodungaloor, Mounay Parriar S. of that place, they are inferior to those of the other Coast, and reckoned so very vile, that their contact would entail the most alarming contamination. Their taste for carrion has doubtless caused this prejudice, which goes so far as to suppose they inhale a fetid odour. The death of a cow or bullock is with the Parriars the season of jubilee, never stopping to enquire its cause, they indulge the horror of the higher classes in the feast it affords. Unlike some of the other caste of Sherramukkuls they do not connect themselves with their kindred, but as with the Vaituwans, the children are the property of the father's master. They are ingenious in wicker work, and are capable of great labour, but in point of value and character are greatly below the Polayens. They pretend to be great necromancers, and their masters respect their powers or fear their spells ;
nor shall we regret the credulity, that puts at least one check on the caprice of their owners,
Vaiduns and Oolandurs—The Vaiduns and Oolandurs are the least domesticated of the Predial slaves, they are employed in cutting timber, making fences, guarding crops, declining or being prohibited from giving any aid in the other rural labours. The former claims a superiority but the existence and subsistence of both is indescribably miserable. They are not insensible to the vanity of ornaments, the neck being hung round with shells, but they use no cloth, a verdant fringe of leaves strung round the loins being their only covering. A dark complexion, restless glance, and exuberance of hair, gives them a wild appearance : but they are extremely gentle, and so timid, that on the lowest sound of approach, the shock headed savage flies into the woods. Though reduced to a low state of debasement, they are yet superior to the
Naiadees-Naiadees who in the opinion of all are at the very last step of vileness. This wretched race is only found in the northern parts of Cochin, they are banished the villages, and live on the low hills near the cultivated lands—a bush or rock being their only shelter. The Naiadees present a state of society not seen in any other parts of India ; wild amidst civilized inhabitants, starving amongst cultivation, nearly naked; they wander about in search of a few roots, but depend more on charity, which the traveller is surprised at their clamorous impetuosity in soliciting, ascending the little slopes that overlook the village or road. Whatever charity they receive is placed on the ground near where they stand, but on observing their petitions are heard they retire from the spot, that they may not defile by their presence those coming to their relief.
(To be continued.)
An Historical account of the Christians on the Malabar Coast, by
the Venerable Archdeacon T. Robinson A. M. (in three parts.)
THEIR EARLY HISTORY. (Read at a Meeting of the M. L. S. & A. R. A. S. held on the 8th August,
1833.) The churches of the christians of St. Thomas in the countries of Travancore and Cochin, have always formed one of the most interesting objects of enquiry to the general scholar as well as to the ecclesiastical student. Their venerable antiquity, their preservation for so many centuries in the midst of Paganism, the respectability of their character, and above all the strong, and independant support, which their copies of the sacred volume have given to the purity of the canon of Scripture as preserved in the Western churches, all conspire to attract and fix our attention to their past history and their present state.
In attempting to.put together the materials that are scattered through different writers on these subjects, I shall observe the following order. First, to trace from the monuments of antiquity that remain to us, their ancient History. Secondly, their ecclesiastical concerns from the arrival of the Portuguese amongst them to the present time; and Thirdly, their general character, customs and political condition.
I must crave the indulgence of the Society if in the first branch of our enquiry (which from the perplexity and obscurity of the subject is all that the present paper can embrace) there is less of general interest, and less of absolute certainty than the following stages will supply. The authorities I have followed are Apemanin Biblia Orientalis, Paul in India Christiana Orientalis, La Croze Christianisme des Indes, and Geddes' History of the Church of Malabar.
The strong and universal tradition of antiquity assigns India as a part of the province of the Apostle St. Thomas.* The fact that he preached the Gospel on these shores where we are now assembled, and that this was the scene of his martyrdom is attested by ecclesiastical records of high antiquity both in the Latin, the Greek and Syrian churches. The town of Maliapoor is mentioned as the place of his mission and “ The Hill of Calamina” is made illus-' trious by his crown of martyrdom : Jerome, Gregory, and Nicephorus mention this as the commonly received opinion of the church in their time i. e. in the 5th century. The Roman Martyrology says expressly that the Apostle suffered martyrdom in India. Cyrus (i. e. St. Thomas) Reliquiæ primo ad urban Edessam deinde Othoman translatæ sunt. Now the ancient Nestorians, and at this day the Catholic christians celebrate the removal of his remains annually on the 1st day of July and call it Dohorana. Calamina, where Sophronius also, as well as the Roman Martyrology places his martyrdom, is not now found either in India or in any other pa of the world. The celebrated Father Paulin, (or as he is more usually called Fra Bortolomeo) conjectures that the word might
Assemar Biblia Orientalis IV. p. 205, &c. and 435.