Nambiar (Nair subcaste)

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Not to be confused with Nambiar (Ambalavasi/Mizhavu).
Regions with significant populations
Mostly in North Malabar.

The Nambiār, also known as Nambiyār, is an Indian caste who were historically the landlord clans in the North Malabar region of Kerala.[1] The Nambiars are in many ways similar to Nair, due to different ethnic origin. In a broader sense, term "Nambiar" is used to cover all those Samanthan Nair clans of North Malabar.[2][page needed]


The title "Nambiar" only came into use after the invasion of the Malabar by Tipu Sultan in the late 18th century. Before this, the title "Nayar" or "Gurukkalachan" were prominent.[3] The true cause of this is unknown, though it is believed that many members of the Nayar caste were forcibly converted to Islam during this period, and some who had not been converted but had lost their caste (eg. forced to eat beef, or had their kuduma- hair knot forcibly cut), may have continued to use the term "Nayar", and therefore other Nayars adopted the title "Nambiar" to reflect superior status. Some prominent Kiriyathil Nair clans in North Malabar, who otherwise belong to the Nambiar community, still use the title "Nayar" (such as Kodoth Tharavadu members).

Position in society[edit]

Until the early 20th century, Nambiars in north Malabar held a prejudice that they were superior to their counterparts in South Malabar. In earlier days, Nambiar women, like most women of Nair clans of north Malabar, would not marry Nair men of South Malabar, nor Nair men from central and south Kerala.[4][5][page needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Coward, Harold (1 January 1993). Hindu-Christian Dialogue: Perspectives and Encounters. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. pp. 192–. ISBN 978-81-208-1158-4. Retrieved 16 August 2012. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Miller, Eric J. 1954. Caste and Territory in Malabar. American Anthropologists 56(3):410–420
  5. ^ Miller, Eric J. 1955. Village Structure in North Kerala. In M.N. Srinivas ed. India's Village. Bombay: Media Promoters & Publishers