Kingdom of Tanur

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Tanur
Kingdom
A fishing boat off the coast of Tanur
A fishing boat off the coast of Tanur
Tanur is located in Kerala
Tanur
Tanur
Location in Kerala, India
Coordinates: 10°58′N 75°52′E / 10.97°N 75.87°E / 10.97; 75.87Coordinates: 10°58′N 75°52′E / 10.97°N 75.87°E / 10.97; 75.87
Country  India
State Kerala
District Malappuram

The Kingdom of Tānūr (Malayalam: Veṭṭattunāt (literally "kingdom of light") was a coastal city-state in south-western India that prevailed during the period of Portuguese domination of the Indian Ocean. One of the numerous similar Hindu principalities along the Malabar Coast at the time, Tanur was ruled by a line of rulers claiming Kshatriya status in the Hindu varna order. [1]

Tanur comprised parts of the present day Tirur and Ponani talukas in the state of Kerala . The Tanur rulers owed their allegiance to the kings of Calicut, a regional power on the Malabar coast. With the arrival of the Portuguese, Tanur ruler Dom João (Christian name, real name unknown) sided with them against his overlord at Calicut. Believing the offers put forward by the Portuguese missionaries, João converted to Christianity—though only for a few months—in 1548. He later assisted the Portuguese in the construction of a fort at Chalium, a river island just south of Calicut. The Tanur ruling line became extinct on the death of their last raja on 24 May 1793. Subsequently, the estate was handed over to the English East India Company and the Hindu temple of the ruling family was transferred to the zamorin of Calicut in 1842. [2][3]

The Tanur rulers were noted patrons of arts and learning. One raja (r. 1630-1640) is said to have introduced innovations in the native art form Kathakali, which has come to be known as the "Bettut tradition". [4]

Early history[edit]

Before the arrival of the Portuguese Armadas, the political history of Tanur is largely obscure, although the origin of the ruling clan is often dated back to Chera times (c. 9th – 12th century AD). It is generally assumed that the Tanur chief was one of the hereditary provincial governors under the Chera Perumals.[5]

The ruler of Tanur was one of the earliest rajas on the Malabar Coast to acknowledge the suzerainty of the zamorin of Calicut. Thereafter, the chief paid a tribute and succession fee to the Calicut ruler and brought his nair warriors to battles, whenever commanded by the king of Calicut. The Tanur raja was expected to field 4,000 nair warriors ready for battle when so required. At his accession, the Tanur raja paid the zamorin a succession fee of 100 bags of rice, 3,000 coconuts and 1,000 fanams (local currency issued from Calicut). All vassal chiefs had to obtain the consent of the king of Calicut for their coronations, though this requirement was very often obviated by the king of Calicut himself being present at their installation. As a result of their ancient relations to the Chera Perumals, the kings of Calicut rarely interfered with the internal administration of Tanur "while the kings of Calicut kept an ever vigilant eye on the regions ruled by hereditary governors appointed from Calicut".[6]

The Tanur raja is also known to have assisted the Zamorin of Calicut in some of his military campaigns, such as that against the eastern state of Valluvanad at Thirunavaya. All those who had taken part in the zamorin's campaign in Thirunavaya received liberal rewards. The Tanur raja obtained the honor of the standing in state [during the Mamankam fairs] under the Kuriyal, midway between the temple of Thirunavaya and Vakayur on the day of Puyam, while facing the king of Calicut on the Vakayur platform.[7]

Princes from the Tanur royal family, along with princes and other "Kshatriya" royal families such as Beypore (Parappanad), Kurumburanad and Cranganore, were eligible to marry princesses from the Calicut royal family. They were generally chosen by the ruling Calicut king personally, for political and strategic reasons. The raja of Tanur also took part in the coronation ceremonies of a new zamorin at Calicut. The ariyittuvazhcha ceremony of a new Calicut king (pouring of rice on the head) was done by Kothachirakkal Aadhyan and the Tanur raja, one representing the Brahmins of the Panniyurkur, and the other representing the "Kshatriyas" of Malabar. The new king entered the sacred water tank (pula-kuli) hand in hand with the raja of Tanur and the raja of Punnathur.[8]

Defection of Tanur (1504)[edit]

After their expulsion from Calicut the Portuguese quickly found allies among the city-states on the Malabar Coast which had long grated under the zamorin's dominance. Minor powers such as Cochin, Cannanore and Quilon opened their ports and welcomed the Portuguese sailors. Tanur raja, who was in partial subjection to the Zamorin of Calicut at the time, also saw an opportunity to break away. He secretly offered to place his kingdom under Portuguese suzerainty, in return for military assistance. [9] [10] [11]

The raja's willingness to aid Portuguese interests in the Indian Ocean was further shown by his participation in the Battle of Tanur (1504). His forces managed to block a large column of Calicut forces, on the way to recover Cranganore from the Portuguese, at Tanur. He sent urgent messages to Lopo Soares de Albergaria of the Sixth Armada for reinforcements. Lopo Soares immediately dispatched Pêro Rafael with a caravel and a sizable Portuguese armed force to assist the Tanur forces. The zamorin's column was defeated and dispersed by the combined forces of Pero Rafael and the Tanur raja. [12]

On 31 December 1504, setting out from Cochin, the Sixth India Armada under the command of de Albergaria first headed north, intending to dock briefly at the port of Ponani and pay his respects to his new ally, the raja of Tanur. While negotiating entry at Ponani, de Albergaria received a message, which led him to the Battle of Pandarane (Koyilandy). In the same year Tanur raja invited the Portuguese sailors into his domains, whereupon a small Portuguese force visited him. But the raja was not bold enough for open defiance, and he sent his new allies back with numerous presents and a promise of secret support against the zamorin. [13]

The Raid on Cranganore (October, 1504) and the defection of Tanur to the Portuguese were serious setbacks for the zamorin. These events pushed the front-line of battles north and effectively placed the Vembanad lagoon out of reach. Any hopes the zamorin had of quickly resuming his attempts to capture Cochin via the backwaters were effectively dashed. No less importantly, the battles at Cranganore and Tanur, which involved significant numbers of Malabari captains and troops, clearly demonstrated that the zamorin was no longer feared in the region. Cranganore and Tanur showed that Malabaris were no longer afraid of defying his authority and taking up arms against him. [14]

Gaspar Correia (1521) was very interested in Tanur. He records that:

"…and the raja of Tanur, who carried on a great sea-trade with many ships, which trafficked all about the coast of India with passes (cartazes) from our (Portuguese) Governors, for he only dealt in wares of the country; and thus he was the greatest possible friend of the Portuguese, and those who went to his dwelling were entertained with the greatest honor, as if they had been his brothers. In fact for this purpose he kept houses fitted up, and both cots and bed-steads furnished in our fashion, with tables and chairs and casks of wine, with which he regaled our people, giving them entertainments and banquets, insomuch that it seemed as if he were going to become a Christian…"[15]

However, the allegiance of the Arabs and Muslim merchants in the region still resided with the Zamorin of Calicut. They took part in various campaigns with him, such as the attack on the Jewish and Christian settlements in Cranganore in 1524.

In 1528, when a Portuguese ship was wrecked off Tanur, the raja gave shelter to crew and refused to surrender them to the zamorin. This strengthened the friendship between the Portuguese and the raja of Tanur and allowed them to develop confidence in each other. [16]

Tuhafat Ul Mujahideen describes the event:

"And in the year AD 1528, a ship belonging to the Europeans was wrecked off Tanur. Now the raja of that place affording aid to the crew, the zamorin sent a messenger to him demanding of him the surrender of the Franks who composed it, together with such parts of the cargo of the ship as had been saved, but that raja having refused compliance with this demand, a treaty of peace was entered into with the Europeans by him; and from this time the subjects of the raja of Tanur traded under the protection of the passes (cartazes) of the Europeans."

By now aiming to disturb the zamorin and destroy the Muslim trade at Vaikkal in Ponani, the Portuguese decided to construct a fort on the north bank of the Vaikkal river mouth at Ponani. Governor Nuno da Cunha's envoys entered into a successful intrigue with the raja of Tanur (later baptised as Dom João de Tanur) to build the fort. But the construction never happened as the ships bringing building materials from Cochin were destroyed while trying to cross the dangerous river mouth in a storm. Some Portuguese men were drowned and some were captured. Some of the large cannons in the ships came into the possession of the zamorin and the design of the Portuguese for a fort near Calicut could not be fulfilled. [17][18]

Construction of Chalium fort[edit]

The raja of Tanur was also instrumental in the development of a Portuguese fort on the island of Chaliyam or Chalium. He made great efforts to bring about a peace between Calicut and the Portuguese, personally visiting the zamorin to act as a mediator. At the time, Chalium (Pappu Kovil) was ruled by the Calicut vassal Unni Rama. Much like the Tanur raja, Unni Rama was anxious to throw off his subjection to the zamorin and to enter into alliance with the Portuguese, in hopes of becoming rich by participating in trade. [19] [20] Unni Rama listened to secret overtures from the Portuguese made through the Tanur raja and allowed them to erect a fort at Chalium. It was with the help of the raja that a chapel was built at Chalium in 1532, together with a house for the commander, barracks for the soldiers, and store-houses for trade. [21]

The zamorin soon regretted having allowed this fort to be built so close to his capital and main port Calicut, and used ineffectual endeavors to induce rajas of kingdoms such as Tanur, Caramanlii and Chalium to break with the Portuguese, even going to war against them. [22] In 1538, the zamorin's forces attacked Tanur and Chalium in response to the increased Portuguese presence in the region. Chalium raja Unni Rama made an unconditional peace with the zamorin while the Tanur raja, after a protracted fight, was compelled to surrender some of his lands (Karakatirutty and New Ponani) near Ponani.

After the fall of Chalium in September 1571, the Tanur raja was compelled to escort the Portuguese on their return journey. They were later deported to Cochin from Tanur. [23]

Conversion of the raja of Tanur[edit]

Having failed to reap the rewards he had hoped for from the Chaliyam affair, from 1545 onwards the raja of Tanur again banked on the Portuguese to help him solidify his position vis-à-vis the zamorin. Given his previous dealings with the Portuguese, he presumed that converting to Christianity was the way to express his political alliance and client relationship. He announced to the Portuguese religious specialists that his conversion had to remain secret in order "not to lose his honor or his caste". He further demanded that he be allowed to keep certain external signs of his caste after conversion, such as the poonul (the sacred cotton thread worn by Hindus of the upper varnas), and be allowed to follow other Hindu customs. Governor João de Castro was suspicious and sent Diago de Borba to discover what the real intention of the raja was. Castro reported that the conversion was only a pretext to gain advantage and the matter fell into abeyance for some time. [24]

The unanimous opinion of the ecclesiastics in Goa was that such dissimulation went against the decisions of the Church Fathers. The theologians in Goa were puzzled and undecided about the question as to whether or not to permit raja of Tanur to continue wearing the external signs of a Hindu. An urgent ad hoc consultation headed by the Governor, Jorge Cabral, debated this issue and drafted some of the first accommodationist propositions. [25]

In 1548, the Raja of Tanur was secretly converted by the vicar in Chalium, João Soares, and the Franciscan Frey Vicente de Lagos, who gave the neophyte a metal crucifix to hang on a thread, "hidden on his chest". After the conversion in 1548, he was called "Dom João". The raja asked for a Christian priest to reside in Tanur (to help Father Joao Soares at Chalium) and instruct him in Christianity. Bishop Juan de Albuquereque sent Antonio Gomes, the Jesuit, to Tanur to teach the raja true doctrine. Gomes pompously arrived in Tanur and brought with him his interpreter Pedro Luis, along with 60 Portuguese soldiers under the command of Captain Garcia de Sa. Gomes. António Gomes resided in part in Tanur and in part traveled down the Malabar coast. For a while Gomes faced no problems. He was allowed to build the church in Tanur, to baptise the Raja of Tanur’s wife as "Dona Maria", and to perform Christian marriage rites for the kingly couple—all done in secret. [26]

The Raja of Tanur was not initially permitted in Goa. After various secret negotiations, confinements and escapes, he finally visited Goa in October 1549. To stop the raja from leaving Tanur to Goa [in October 1549] and from relinquishing Hinduism, his relatives and patrons employed numerous arguments, from threatening him with an army of a thousand nairs to calling it a folly to leave Tanur. According to Gaspar Correia’s narrative, the raja was promised honors and lands near Ponani, but he refused them all. The raja was finally locked in a fort on the promontory of Ezhimala near the temple of Madayi. However, he escaped with the help of the Portuguese and sailed to Goa where he received a sumptuous and ostentatious reception. The raja was paraded in procession through Goa, accompanied by various musical instruments such as trombetas, kettledrums and shawms, artillery discharges, and the pealing of church bells. The Raja of Tanur was dressed up by the Portuguese as they felt fitting for the king in a Portuguese fidalgo, "in honorable and rich clothes, with a very rich sword fastened around the waist, with a rich dagger, one golden chain, black velvet slippers, a black velvet hat with a printed design". In October that year, he was sent back to Tanur with honors and gifts accompanied by the bishop of Goa. The bishop later baptized the son and the mother of the raja. The raja also ordered his subjects to became Christians. The Tanur raja now tried to act as an intermediary between Calicut and the Portuguese.[27]

Perhaps releasing the impractical nature of the offers put forward by the Portuguese, the Tanur raja soon returned to Hindu beliefs and deserted the Portuguese. By this time, Tanur was loaded with gifts from Governor Jorge Cabral and the Jesuits. The fourth Pepper War broke out sometime before June 1550, over a disputed territory—the island of Bardela—between the King of Cochin and the raja of Vadakkumkur (Pimenta). A series of bloody encounters ensued, and the zamorin — supported by no less than eighteen of his vassals including the raja of Tanur on the side of the raja of Vadakkumkur — opposed to the Portuguese and Cochin. This event clearly demonstrated the renewed allegiance of the Tanur raja.[28]

The chiefs of Tanur and Chalium were to remain at Cochin as sureties for the king of Calicut during an allied siege by them and the Portuguese against the Kunjali Marakkar. At the end of this siege, Marakkar was hanged by the Portuguese. [29]

Adoptions from Tanur[edit]

In 1658 the crown of Cochin fell vacant. Five princes from the Tanur and Aroor royal families were taken into the palace by the regent of Cochin, Gangādhara Lakshmi (1656–1658), and given the right to succeed. The regent queen was under the influence of the Portuguese. Later on, the eldest member of the adoptees from Tanur, Rama Varma (1658–1662), was crowned ruler.

An elder branch (mūtta tāvazhi) of the Cochin royal family ignored the adoptions and appealed to the Zamorin of Calicut for help. The leader of the elder branch was the dispossessed prince Vīra Kērala Varma. The zamorin decided to help the elder branch and Āditya Varma, king of Vadakkumkūr, king of Edappally and raja of Pāliyam rallied around the zamorin in support of the elder branch's dispossessed prince. Conversely, the king of Purakkad supported the ruling Tanur princes. On the advice of the raja of Pāliyam, the dispossessed prince set sail for Colombo in Ceylon and asked for help from the Dutch governor, Joan Maetsuycker, against the Portuguese-supported ruling princes. Later he sought exile in Colombo. The Dutch now found a huge opportunity to establish influence in the politics of Malabar.

In 1661, the Dutch led the allies of the dispossessed prince, with the armies of zamorin of Calicut, against the Portuguese and the ruling Cochin king (Tanur adoptee). The city of Cochin was attacked and the battle resulted in a disastrous failure for the Portuguese and Cochin rulers. Three of the Tanur princes including Rama Varma died in the war, Rani Gangadharalakshmi was sent to prison and the ruling king escaped to Eranākulam where he was given refuge by the king of Purakkad. After the death of Rama Varma and the other adopted prince Goda Varma (1662–1663), the only survivor from Tanur, was crowned. On 7 January 1663, the Dutch again attacked the port of Cochin and the prince surrendered. Vīra Kērala Varma (1663–1687) was later crowned as the King of Cochin by the Dutch.

Mysore's intervention[edit]

The Tanur royal family lost many of its members during the invasion by the Kingdom of Mysore in the 18th century. The royal palace was destroyed by Tipu Sultan in 1784. Under the Treaty of Seringapatam, Mysore ceded Malabar along with all of its tiny Hindu princely states to the English East India Company (EIC).

Raja Rama Varma, the then ruler of Tanur despite his exile to Travancore, sent a petition to the EIC through his secretary Chandu Menon requesting that the royal family be appointed manager of the estate/kingdom on behalf of the EIC, as Tanur had formerly belonged to him and his ancestors. The raja agreed to pay Rs. 35,000—the revenues collected after the expenses of revenue collections and maintenance of the Tanur royal family—as a yearly rent for his kingdom. The EIC was granted the right to appoint any person they pleased to inspect the accounts. If the revenue from Tanur amounted to more than Rs 35,000, the difference was paid to the EIC.[30]

The Tanur raja died on 24 May, 1793. With no natural or adoptive heirs to succeed him, his kingdom was declared forfeit to the EIC. The temple of the Tanur royal family was transferred to the Zamorin of Calicut in 1842.[31]

Bettut tradition[edit]

The Bettut tradition of the dance drama Kathakali is attributed to a raja of Tanur (1630-1640). He introduced several important developments into the presentation of Kathakali;[32]

  • The introduction of two professional background singers.
  • The introduction of chengilas (cymbals) to beat the tala (rhythm).
  • The introduction of Chenda, a powerful drum played with sticks. Chendas were originally played in the outdoor temple ceremonies to accompany shadow puppets.
  • Two singers, the Ponnikkaran and the Sinkidikkaran, were introduced to add the Thiranukuu. Thiranukuu is a method of introducing the evil characters of the play to the audience from behind a large satin curtain, held up at the front of the stage.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Menon, A Sreedhara. A Survey of Kerala History. Kottayam: DC Books, 2007. Print
  2. ^ William, Logan. Malabar Manual (Volume I). Madras: Asian Educational Services, 1887. Print.
  3. ^ Madras Legislative Assembly Debates. Official Report by Madras (India). Legislature. Legislative Assembly, p. 373
  4. ^ Menon, A Sreedhara. A Survey of Kerala History. Kottayam: DC Books, 2007. Print
  5. ^ Iyer, KV Krishna. Zamorins of Calicut: From the earliest times to AD 1806. Calicut: Norman Printing Bureau, 1938. Print.
  6. ^ Iyer, KV Krishna. Zamorins of Calicut: From the earliest times to AD 1806. Calicut: Norman Printing Bureau, 1938.
  7. ^ Iyer, KV Krishna. Zamorins of Calicut: From the earliest times to AD 1806. Calicut: Norman Printing Bureau, 1938. Print.
  8. ^ Iyer, KV Krishna. Zamorins of Calicut: From the earliest times to AD 1806. Calicut: Norman Printing Bureau, 1938. Print.
  9. ^ Biblio Mania [1]
  10. ^ Iyer, KV Krishna. Zamorins of Calicut: From the earliest times to AD 1806. Calicut: Norman Printing Bureau, 1938. Print.
  11. ^ William, Logan. Malabar Manual (Volume I). Madras: Asian Educational Services, 1887. Print.
  12. ^ Kurup, K K N. India's Naval Traditions: The Role of Kunhali Marakkars. New Delhi: Northern Book Centre, 1997. Print.
  13. ^ Iyer, KV Krishna. Zamorins of Calicut: From the earliest times to AD 1806. Calicut: Norman Printing Bureau, 1938. Print.
  14. ^ Biblio Mania [2]
  15. ^ Biblio Mania [3]
  16. ^ Iyer, KV Krishna. Zamorins of Calicut: From the earliest times to AD 1806. Calicut: Norman Printing Bureau, 1938. Print.
  17. ^ Kurup, K K N. India's Naval Traditions: The Role of Kunhali Marakkars. New Delhi: Northern Book Centre, 1997. Print.
  18. ^ GENERAL HISTORY and COLLECTION of VOYAGES and TRAVELS, ARRANGED in SYSTEMATIC ORDER: ROBERT KERR Columbia University, New York [4]
  19. ^ Marco Ramareni. Colonial Voyage – Portuguese Cochin [5]
  20. ^ GENERAL HISTORY and COLLECTION of VOYAGES and TRAVELS, ARRANGED in SYSTEMATIC ORDER: ROBERT KERR Columbia University, New York [6]
  21. ^ GENERAL HISTORY and COLLECTION of VOYAGES and TRAVELS, ARRANGED in SYSTEMATIC ORDER: ROBERT KERR Columbia University, New York [7]
  22. ^ GENERAL HISTORY and COLLECTION of VOYAGES and TRAVELS, ARRANGED in SYSTEMATIC ORDER: ROBERT KERR Columbia University, New York [8]
  23. ^ William, Logan. Malabar Manual (Volume I). Madras: Asian Educational Services, 1887. Print.
  24. ^ Whiteway, RS. The Rise of Portuguese Power in India 1497-1550. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 1989. Print
  25. ^ Ines G. Županov. Missionary Tropics: The Catholic Frontier in India (16th - 17th Centuries) . University of Michigan Press, 2005
  26. ^ Ines G. Županov. Missionary Tropics: The Catholic Frontier in India (16th - 17th Centuries) . University of Michigan Press, 2005
  27. ^ Ines G. Županov. Missionary Tropics: The Catholic Frontier in India (16th - 17th Centuries) . University of Michigan Press, 2005
  28. ^ Biblio Mania [9]
  29. ^ Iyer, KV Krishna. Zamorins of Calicut: From the earliest times to AD 1806. Calicut: Norman Printing Bureau, 1938. Print.
  30. ^ Logan, William. A Collection of Treaties, Engagements, and Other Papers of Importance Relating to British Affairs in Malabar. Madras: Asian Educational Services, 1891. Print
  31. ^ Logan, William. A Collection of Treaties, Engagements, and Other Papers of Importance Relating to British Affairs in Malabar. Madras: Asian Educational Services, 1891. Print
  32. ^ Menon, A Sreedhara. A Survey of Kerala History. Kottayam: DC Books, 2007. Print