Jewish copper-plate of Cochin

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Jewish copper plates of Cochin (Cochin plates of Bhaskara Ravi) is a copper-plate charter issued by the Cera king of Cranganore Parkaran Iravivanmar (Sanskrit: Bhaskara Ravi Varma), generally dated to the 10th and 11th centuries, granting land to Jewish trader Joseph Rabban. Although the traditional date according to the Cochin Jews is AD 379, the presently accepted date of this inscription is AD 1000. It is the earliest evidence of a Jewish community settling in India, although local tradition has it that a previous settlement in Malabar dates to the early centuries AD.

The document records a royal grant to the Jewish chief Joseph Rabban of the rights of Ancuvannam along with the 72 proprietary rights enjoyed by high ranking nobles of Cera kingdom. The grant is currently preserved in the White Jews’ Synagogue at Mattanceri, Cochin.

It is engraved on two small, rectangular copper-plates. The second side of the second plate is blank. A hole for the ring on which the plates must have been strung, is visible on the impression of each plate. The character which is chiefly used in the document is the Vatteluttu alphabet. Grantha letters are used in a number of Sanskṛit words and the in the foreign word "Issuppu". The language used in an early form of Malayalam.

During the visit of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to India in 2003, the then provincial tourism minister KV Thomas presented him with a replica of the copper plates.[1]

Text[edit]

JosephRabban - sasanam.png

The text of the charter translates (translated by historian MGS Narayanan[2]) as follows:

"Hail Prosperity (Svasti Sri), this is the gift (prasada) that His Majesty (Tiruvadi), King of Kings (Kogonmai-kondan), Sri Parkaran Iravivanmar, who is to wield scepter for several thousand years, was pleased to make during the thirty sixth year opposite to the second year of his reign, on the day when he was pleased to reside at Muyirikkottu.

"We have granted to Issuppu Irappan, the Ancuvannam (corporation/guild), tolls by the boat and by other vehicles, Ancuvannam dues, the right to employ the day lamp, decorative cloth, palanquin, umbrella, kettle drum, trumpet, gateway, arch, arched roof, weapons and rest of the seventy two privileges. We have remitted customs, dues and weighing fee.

"Moreover, according to this copper-plate grant, he shall be exempted from payments due to the king (koyil) from settlers in the town, but he shall enjoy what they enjoy.

"To Issuppu Irappan, proprietor of the Ancuvannam, his male and female issues, nephews, and son-in-law, Ancuvannam shall belong by hereditary succession as long as the sun and moon endure - Prosperity!"

"This is attested by Kovarttana Mattandan, Governor (Utaiyavar) of Venatu"
"This is attested by Kotai Cirikantan, Governor of Venapalinatu"
"This is attested by Manavepala Manaviyan, Governor of Eralanatu"
"This is attested by Irayaran Cattan, Governor of Valluvanatu"
"This is attested by Kotai Iravi, Governor of Netumpuraiyurnatu"
"This is attested by Murkkan Cattan, Commander of the Eastern forces"
"This writing is executed by Vanralaceri Kandan-Kunrappolan, the officer who takes down oral messages".

References[edit]

  1. ^ UNI Sharon delighted with gift from Kochi Sep 10, 2003 The Hindu [1]
  2. ^ MGS Narayanan. Cultural Symbiosis in Kerala The Jewish Copper Plates of Cochin. Kerala Historical Society, Trivandrum. pp 79-82.