|Regions with significant populations|
|Mostly in Malabar and Cochin, also in Travancore.|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Illathu Nairs, Samanthan Nairs|
Kiryathil Nair or Kiriyathil Nair is a subcaste of the Nair community, who have traditionally lived in the regions of Malabar and Cochin in present-day Kerala, India. The 17th century Keralolpathi describes them as descendants of warrior Nāga tribes who came to Kerala from northern parts of India along the western coast. It may be noted that the earlier Keralamahatmayam, an Upa Purana of the Bhoogola Hindu Purana, does not make mention of any subcastes among the Nairs but only states them to be the military caste of Kerala. The name Kiryathil is derived from Kiryam (Griham = House).
The Kiryathil Nairs are one of the highest classes of Nairs. In the caste hierarchy, they were considered superior to Illathu Nairs, but inferior to Samanthan Nairs. The caste boundary between Kiryathil Nair and Samanthan Nair is very vague and therefore some families among the Kiryathils in the course of time may be recognized as Samanthan and vice versa. Kiryathil Nairs enjoyed special privileges such as the right to partake food with Nambuthiris (which was a privilege not given to any other caste, not even to Iyers, which is also a Brahmin caste). These were exceptionally high privileges in Kerala during the pre-British era.
Kiryathil Nairs were feudal lords, known as Naduvazhi,and controlled a limited number of militiamen known as Charnavars under their command. These soldiers usually belonged to the Purattu Charna Nair subcaste.
- Dr. Hermann Gundert, Keralolpathiyum Mattum, (Band 4, Hermann Gundert Series, Eight works published during 1843-1904) (Kottayam: Current Books, 1992), p 185
- Fuller, C. J. (Winter 1975). "The Internal Structure of the Nayar Caste". Journal of Anthropological Research 31 (4): 283–312. JSTOR 3629883.(Subscription required)
- Travancore State Manual Volume I by V.Nagam Aiya, page 215
- Gough, E. Kathleen (1961). "Nayars: Central Kerala". In Schneider, David Murray; Gough, E. Kathleen. Matrilineal Kinship. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-02529-5. Retrieved 2011-06-09.