The Hindu – March 20 2017
Buyers were landed gentry while sellers were mostly from ‘untouchable’ castes
The records of slave trade that flourished around the 15th century in the region show that the practice was carried out on the basis of proper “sale agreements” and that it was not uncommon for lower caste parents to pledge their children to be bonded labour several years.
Muthukumar, an epigrapher who painstakingly catalogued the palm leaf manuscripts that had been collected from Madurai district to digitise them at the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP), says the reasons for the sale of family members documented in the palm leaf show that slaves were sold for money, grain and to tide over an emergency.
Interpreting the information in the 37 palm leaf manuscripts that clearly distinguishes the caste of buyers and sellers.