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number or value, they are generally limited to a silver pen fixed to the waist, a chain of the same metal forms a girdle, to which seals or keys are attached, the fingers are sometimes loaded with rings each having several ; a knife six or eight inches long, the hilt of which is carved, invariably accompanies the pen, this is an indispensable article performing all sorts of offices, even the lower classes are never seen without one stuck in the girdle. The female ornaments are more numerous, though by no means of that complex character worn by those of the neighbouring countries, a perverted taste distends the lobe of the ear to a most extravagant size, it frequently reaching to the top of the shoulder, the appertures thus formed are filled by ponderous pendants of ivory or ebony, or by the leaf of the palmyra rolled into a circular form, they occasionally lavish much of their finery on the neck, which is sometimes observed encompassed by a collar or necklace of gold, from which a few trinkets are suspended, but the more general ornament is the Tally, which is merely a thin cotton cord, to which is affixed a small gold ornament; amongst the wealthier classes a single bracelet of the above metal is occasionally observed, this distinction is only assumed by the other sex when conferred by the chief.
Subsistence is almost entirely derived from agricultural labours, nor do the temptations of commerce attract even the wealthier classes from rural pursuits, which are most esteemed, the handicraft professions being, it has been seen, abandoned to the very lower ranks, nor does the practice of them always secure a certain livelihood, though that might be earned without the interrupted application of industry, might be concluded from the abstemious character of their diet, even that of the higher ranks knows but few delicacies, those not at all intelligible to our luxury are even disregarded by their neighbours, who decry the extreme simplicity of their taste. Conjee or Rice soup (a leaf invariably performing the office of a spoon) forms the first meal, the second consists of Rice (dry grains being very little used) their condiments are of the most ordinary kind. The pulp of the mango reduced to a paste and dried, having been spread on mats for this purpose, is amongst the best. The ordinary oil is a common substitute for ghee, but little animal food is consumed in the interior, those living near the sea in a great measure draw their support from that element. The cocoanut in all its shapes constitutes one of the chief articles of subsistence, and the jack, plantain, and mango," are here articles of the first necessity rather than luxuries-- the kernel of the latter is
ground into flour, rice constitute the food of the lower classes for but a portion of the year, their scanty store exhausted, great variety of the yam, cultivated tuberous roots, and sago produced from a species of the palm, affords a substitute, many of the hill tribes subsist almost entirely on arrow root, and the kernels of the eendu, which having been boiled and steeped in a stream for two or three days, operations necessary to extract their poisonous qualities, are ground into flour, but the mountaineers are not alone reduced to this meagre fare, that of all the lower classes is frequently precarious, often, unwholesome and scanty; an indiscriminate appetite makes wild roots of every kind, particularly of aquatic plants, for which the Polayen is seen searching up to his neck the waters of the lake, lizards, mice, &c. contribute to supply deficiencies, nor will much be rejected by a taste to which the alligator is acceptable, many of the most inferior classes being often reduced to this revolting fare. The expence of a Nair family in tolerable circumstances will not exceed ten or twelve Rupees a month,
Showan family probably not more than a moiety of that sum, which with a Polayen may still be reduced by half: the daily produce is generally consumed at home, butter milk diluted with water and rendered very acid by an infusion of leaves, partly aromatic, being the ordinary beverage; but they do not confine themselves entirely to so primative a one, most classes (nor have the bramins quite escaped the imputation) indulge in the use of spirits, the temptation is great as it is so easily indulged, the quantity purchased for a few copper coins being sufficient to intoxicate, like all other natives their potations are unsocial, the harsh spirit sufficient for the purposes of their course intemperance being more calculated to produce oblivion rather than conviviality. The better ranks too, are addicted to the use of soporifics (particularly opium) a vice by no means uncommon even amongst the christians, whose pastors are not proof against its allurements; but the placid intoxication it produces is not followed by ferocity, nor do their orgies however intemperate ever end in riot. Of their domestic accomodations little can be said, it has been seen that with the better ranks their houses are objects of vanity and care, feelings that do not extend to their furniture, rude couches, and some brass culinary and household utensils appearing the only articles meriting that designation; a singular simplicity that makes every thing answer every purpose, converts the bark of the Arreka to many domestic uses.
* Or rather the spatha or leathery covering, that encloses the fruit in its early state.
On the whole though we cannot attach any great value to the standard of their improvement, or characterize the people as deserving the reputation of great industry or pure morals, yet they are superior to their neighbours in many things that exalt one class above another; it must nevertheless be allowed that the relative condition of master and servants is here more unfavorably contrasted, and that with equal or greater resources than them, the condition of the lower classes is generally inferior to the corresponding ranks of the neighbouring countries, and their indigence is rendered more striking by the comparative affluence of the higher orders, who agreeable to their measure of it, have a considerable share of enjoyment, their distinction might perhaps be partly traced to an apathetical disposition, that renders them indifferent to higher enjoyments, but perhaps there would be more justice in ascribing it to the tyranny of cast, an indellible line here separates the different ranks, in no part of India are those unnatural divisions so strongly marked, so anxiously regarded, or their degrading or enobling association in such activity.* The enumeration of fifty two casts shews the divided character of the population, but the scale of precedency is still more minutely graduated, each cast being split into various subdivisions, which though serving to divide, as well as distinguish it would be difficult tu follow through all their intricacies. It is however observed that the feelings they involve, have been somewhat assuaged. The bramin less deified, permits the Nair to approach him, while he in turn amongst other concessions, submits to the christian being seated in his presence, nor dare he now sacrifice the Polayen to his caprice, or indignation, but the implacability of those prejudices must be infinitely more relaxed, before the lower classes, the most valuable part of the population, and on whom depends the whole productive industry of the country, can rise above their present state of debasement. Their condition (though improved and improving) excites our pity, often our disgust, but above all the situation of the Prodial slaves most deserves commisseration, as at once amongst the most useful, suffering a wretchedness scarcely susceptible of aggravation.
Bramins Though divided by cast the population have a great similarity of manners, but formed of such a medley, an outline of its component parts may be desirable. The Bramins to the south of Quilon are called Poties,t in the more northern parts
• The number of paces to which each may approach the other, is minutely defined, a step beyond entails pollution and punishment.
+ They will be spoken of generally under the latter denomination.
Nomboories, a denomination confined to those of Suddikerala.* The Alwanchayree Tambrakal is viewed as the chief of the Nomboories, though he possesses no distinct jurisdiction over them. In the scale of precedency the Adhienmars, or the descendants of eight principal families who once ruled Kerala, hold the first place. Pad is a title bestowed on superior rank, sanctity, or learning. Those who have performed the Ootram are termed Akkaterypad ; skill in the offices of priesthood, obtains the appellation of Buttaderypad, while those who have achieved the sacrifice of the Yoigam, merit the title of Chomadreepad, and enjoy the privilege of wearing large gold ear-rings, those having controul in temples are called Muttumadda Putter, if Poties, Tundreeadhein. The learned in the Vaidans, Sandies, or officiating priests, there are Sunneeasees of various appellations, ranks, and shades of difference, though such a life does not here imply the observance of any very inconvenient austerities. There is too considerable distinction of property, but the Nomboories are not split into sects, each deity has an equal share in their homage, nor do their opinions or practice, except in some frivolous observances, differ from the bramins of the other coast, they are said to be lax in the performance of their religious duties, at least less scrupulous than formerly, they deplore but don't amend this degeneracy of faith and zeal ; which the Putters over whom they claim a superiority, (denied by them) ascribe to the malediction of Sancara Atchayrai. They have no Agrarams, nor do they ever live segregated, loving retirement, they court the seclusion afforded by the vallies of the interior. Their lllums, large and commodious, canopied in foliage, and seated on the bank of some river or stream, breathe an air of undisturbed
and evinces a considerable share of affluence. Those not possessing property, it will have been seen, derive an ample subsistence from the religious establishments: this they receive as a right not as charity. Pursee Rama, having conferred on the Nomboories, all temporal as well as spiritual authority, they still profess to claim the sole sovereignty of the soil, though their possessions have been considerably reduced. At an earlier period they held unbounded sway over the minds of the people, nor has this pernicious influence yet entirely ceased, but originating in the degradation of the lower orders it must decline as they improve. The Nairs are still in some measure their slaves,+ at least when holding or superintending their
The name has some reference to their having been (as the legend says) emigrants.
+ In addressing the bramins they style themselves so, and are called generally by them Adhienınars or slaves.
lands, but it is an easy servitude in which they are held by interest and spell of cast, rather than law, somewhat aristocritical in their notions, they are shy and rather avoid than seek intercourse with strangers, but the reserve of ceremony once worn away their manners are courteous, but chargeable with the refinements of dissimulation and guile, they cannot be regarded as forming any index to their disposition. They have no influence in civil affairs, and with some trifling exceptions are not engaged in them, but their sanctity not appearing offended by the profane duties of public life, this abstinence cannot be ascribed to a voluntary forbearance. Prejudice prevents them from engaging in any useful profession, some are employed in the performance of religious offices, but the greatest part indulge in indolent repose, and if an easy voluptuous life with nothing to ruffle its uniformity be happiness, they enjoy a large share of it, it is not even interrupted by the cultivation of literature, their erudition rarely exceeds a very imperfect knowledge of sanscrit, they however speak a pure language; of their recreations it is difficult to speak, the vain science of divination serves sometimes to divert their lassitude. Though holding familiar intercourse with other bromins, they will not intermarry with them, and scrupulous as to their alliances decline extending them even to the Poties. Polygamy is nearly unknown, the eldest son of a Nomboorie family alone marries : a restriction imposed probably to prevent the diminution of dignity by the increase of numbers; or that of wealth by too minute divisions of property, should the eldest son have no issue the second marries and so on till the object be attained. In consequence of this custom, the females often enter into wedlock at a very
advanced age, or die in a state of celebacy, but so tenacious are they of their observances that the corpse undergoes all the ceremonies of marriage; an Arria Putter performing the part of bridegroom in those posthumous nuptials. Numerous daughters are considered as a misfortune, their dower and other necessary expenditure consuming a large share of the family property. In the selection of a wife, female mediation directs the choice as the veil of concealment is not removed till after marriage, when it is too late to profit by the discovery; but cupidity would seem the only passion necessary to be gratified, as a stipulation on the score of dower always forms the most important article of the treaty, it is unnecessary to repeat the detail of ceremonies that follow its ratification, and equally so to describe those of their obsequies. Voluntary cre