Titles and Territory. The legacy of the Palaiyakkarar [Kongu Nadu]


French Institute of Pondicherry / Pondicherry University

 Working Paper 1              [September 2017 version]


Titles and territories are important symbols of power valued by their holders to assert their position of authority. In tracing the history of positions of authority one often comes across archival sources authenticating these titles and their corresponding territory. These sources include a variety of documents such as the family genealogy, inscriptions in stone and copper, letters of ordinance; to name a few. Such sources are reproduced with every change to the larger power structure recording the validation and continuity of authority. This is also the case in the present study of the Kongu Vellala Palaiyakarar, where such sources are preserved by the title holders. However, since independence of India and, democracy taking over the larger political structure, the continuity in validation of these titles has been stalled in the absence of favourable ordinance. This paper argues that such sources continue to vouch for the lineage of authority and authenticate its continuity in collective memory brought about through not only the reproduction and display of the sources but more importantly, the particularity of this position of authority that remains unchallenged in the political structure of democracy.

Keywords: Kingship, Legacy, Authority, Titles, Territory, Collective Memory

Read in full “Working Paper-1- Authority through Titles and Territories -1

[1] This paper is the outcome of the Doctoral thesis “An ethnohistorical study of the Chieftains among the Kongu Vellala community in South India”, funded by French Institute of Pondicherry and partly supported by DATAH Project.