Collection 1

EAP 314 Collection 1

Location of the original documents:

Kallar Nadu

Number of digital images:

1111 digital images in TIFF format

Extent and Format of the original material:

230 handwritten and printed paper documents, 11 (handwritten) school notebooks and 3 copper plates.

Scope and content of the collection:

This collection consists of handwritten documents belonging to the headman of the Pramalai Kallar subcaste. These documents written to his father (Pinna Thevar, 1896-1971) and grand father (Ananji Thevar, 1838-1918) in their capacity as traditional headmen of the subcaste. These documents consist of petitions, descriptions of conflicts having occurred in villages under the traditional legal jurisdiction. The conflicts ranged from unpaid loans, inheritance, breaking the customary marriage rules, theft, adultery, rape, murder. This collection also contains copperplates from the mid 17th century issued by the Nayakkar ruler Tirumalai Nayakkar to the forefather Pinna Thevar, the first holder of the title of headman of the Pramalai Kallar subcaste.

System of arrangement of the collection:

The collection is arranged in three series:

(1) Panchayat papers, (2) Petition notebooks and (3) Copperplates.

(1) Panchayat papers

This series (1837-1940) consists of handwritten petitions sent to Ananji Thevar and his son Pinna Thevar (respectively grandfather and father of the current document holder). These petitions deal with:  application for divorces, agreement for divorce by the village headman, notice of the divorce given to the subcaste headman, property disputes, case of illegitimate children, unpaid “bride price”,  various inter family disputes, adultery, marriage between prohibited kin relations and prohibited intercaste sexual relations. The panchayat documents share some similarity with the petition notebooks in that they were both used to record petitions which were given to the traditional headmen of the Pramalai kallar subcaste as part of the local dispute resolution process. The main differences are that the panchayat documents also record the judgments that were handed down at the end of a case, while the notebooks do not and some of these are recorded on stamp paper giving those documents a legal status outside the realm of the subcaste. Furthermore, the panchayat documents were handed to the headmen by their individual applicants while the notebooks contain petitions from whole villages. Several documents included in this series are not related to the issue described but were kept together as a bundle by the document holder and have been included in the series.

(2) Petition notebooks

This series (1915-1938) consists of handwritten petitions send to Ananji Thevar and his son Pinna Thevar respectively grandfather and father of the current document holder. These are contained in school notebooks (40 to 80 pages) from villages under the jurisdiction of the Periya Thevar (headman). The notebooks were then delivered to him. Based on these, the Periya Thevar would travel to the villages and solve the disputes. The notebooks therefore give only the details of the dispute and not the judgment handed down by the Periya Thevar. These petitions deals with: application for divorces, agreement for divorce by the village headman, notice of the divorces given to the headman of the subcaste, property disputes, case of Illegitimate children, unpaid “Bride Price”,  various inter family disputes, adultery,  marriage between prohibited kin relations,  prohibited intercaste sexual relations.

(3) Copperplates

This series (1645-1657) contains three copper plates were issued by the Nayak King Thirumalai Nayakar who rule Madurai in the middle of the 17th century to Pinna Tevar who was the first Pramalai Kallar headman bearing a royal title bestowed on him by the king. The current document holder, Tavamani Tevar is the 11th holder of that same title.

Copper plate 1;catid=160482;r=6334;catid=160482;r=26500

Copper plate 2;catid=160483;r=6334;catid=160483;r=26500

Copper plate 3


N.B.: Caution must always be exercised regarding the authenticity of copper plates as fakes have been produced. Regarding the copperplates of Collection 1, they have been authenticated.