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|Illathu Nairs, Kiryathil Nairs|
Samantan Nair or more commonly Samantan (Sama + anta means equal distance or difference, rather risen from the common masses) was a generic term applied to dignify a collection of sub-clans among the ruling elite and feudal estate owners of Kerala belonging to the Nair community.
Nair is the name of a Hindu Kshatriya caste in the southern Indian state of Kerala. Nairs are an integral part of Kerala's culture and have a long history. The Nair caste was a martial nobility, similar to the Samurai of Japan and figure prominently in Kerala history. Origins and history of ancient South Indian as well as eminent historians, and foreign travelers refer to the Nairs as a martial nobility, similar to the Samurais of Japan. The origin of the Nair caste is uncertain. Some anthropologists are of the view that the Nairs are not indigenous to Kerala, as many customs and traditions distinguished them from other Keralites. Some examples are their own form of inheritance (Marumakkathaayam), warfare (Kalaripayattu), gods and goddesses (Nagas or serpents, and Bhadhrakali), and numerous sub-castes and surnames.
Robin Jeffrey, an anthropologist, described the Samantas as "a matrilineal caste ranking between Nayars and Kshatriyas and found in limited numbers in north Travancore. They were more numerous in Cochin and British Malabar."