Quilon Syrian copper plates

Kollam/Quilon Syrian copper plates, also known as Kollam Tarisappalli copper plates, or Kottayam inscription of Sthanu Ravi, or Tabula Quilonensis record a royal grant issued by the chieftain of Kollam (Ayyan Adikal) to a Syrian Christian merchant magnate (Mar Sapir Iso) in Kerala.[1] The royal charter is engraved in old Malayalam in Vattezhuthu (with some Grantha characters) on six copper plates.[1] The document is the oldest available Chera Perumal inscription.[2]

Quilon Syrian copper plates (849 AD) (six plates)

The charter is dated to the 5th regnal year of the Chera Perumal ruler Sthanu Ravi Kulasekhara (849/50 AD).[3] The sixth plate contains a number of signatures of the witnesses to the grant in Arabic (Kufic script), Middle Persian (cursive Pahlavi script) and Judeo-Persian (standard square Hebrew script).[4] Until recently (2013) it was believed that the six plates formed two separate grants (dated separately) issued by Kerala rulers to the Syrian Christian merchants.[5]

One part (four plates) of the copper plates is kept at the Devalokam Aramana of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church while the other (two small plates) is at Poolatheen Aramana (Thiruvalla) of Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church. The copper plate also mentions about the Jews and Muslims of Kerala in the Arabic (Kufic script), Middle Persian (cursive Pahlavi script) and Judeo-Persian (standard square Hebrew script) parts.[4]

Summarised prescriptionEdit

A modern depiction of Mar Sabor and Mar Proth.
Insignia from Quilon Syrian copper plates (plate 5)

The grant is dated the 5th regnal year of king Sthanu Ravi, 849-50 AD (old Malayalam: Ko Tanu Ravi).[6][3] It was drafted in the presence of Chera Perumal prince Vijayaraga, Venad chieftain Ayyan Adikal Thiruvadikal, junior chieftain Rama Thiruvadikal, other important officers of the chiefdom (the adhikarar, the prakrithi, the punnathala padi, and the pulakkudi padi) and the representatives of merchant guilds anjuvannam and manigramam.[6][3]

The charter grants land to Mar Sapir Iso, the founder the Kollam trading city (the nagara), to build the Church of Tarisa at Kollam. The land, evidently a large settlement with its occupants, is donated as an "attipperu" by Ayyan Adikal.[6][3] Sapir Iso also recruited two merchant guilds (the anjuvannam and the manigramam) as the tenants of the nagara (the karanmai). The Six Hundred of Venad, the Nair militia of the chiefdom, was entrusted with the protection of the nagara and the church. The charter also granted serfs to the nagara and the church. This included personnel like agricultural laborers (the vellalars), carpenters (the thachar), toddy tappers (the ezhavar) and salt-makers (the eruviyar).[3]

The charter granted Sapir Iso several titles, rights and aristocratic privileges.[3] All revenues from the donated land and its occupants were 'exempted' (which perhaps meant that these were to be made over to the church).[2][3]

Quilon Syrian copper plates (849 AD, plates 1 and 4)

Witnesses to grantEdit

The vertical plate contains a number of signatures of the witnesses to the grant in Arabic (Kufic script), Middle Persian (cursive Pahlavi script) and Judeo-Persian (standard square Hebrew script).[4]

Quilon Syrian copper plates (plate 6)

Arabic signatures ― Kufic script

  • Maymun, son of Ibrahim
  • Muhammad, son of Manih
  • Sulh, son of Ali
  • Uthman, son of al-Marzuban
  • Muhammad, son of Yahya
  • Amr, son of Ibrahm
  • Ibrahim, son of al-Tayy
  • Bakr, son of Mansur
  • al-Qasim, son of Hamid
  • Mansur, son of Isa
  • Ismail, son of Yaqub

Middle Persian signatures ― Pahlavi script

  • Farrox, son of Narseh, son of Sahraban
  • Yōhanan, son of Mašya, son of Wehzād
  • Šāhdōst, son of Mardweh, son of Farroxīg
  • Sēnmihr, son of Bayweh
  • Sīnā, son of Yākub
  • [...], son of Mardweh
  • Marōē, son of Yōhanan
  • Farrbay, son of Windād-Ohrmazd
  • Mard-Farrox, son of Bōyšād
  • Āzādmard, son of Ahlā

Judeo-Persian signatures ― Hebrew script

  • Hasan Ali
  • Sahaq
  • Samael
  • Abraham Quwami
  • Kurus Yahiya

Mention of Thomas of CanaEdit

Duperron's translation mentioning Thomas of Cana (1758)

Thomas of Cana copper plates dated between the mid 4th and early 9th century are a lost set of copper-plate grants issued by an unidentified Chera Perumal king to the Christian merchants in the city of "Makotayar Pattinam" (present day Kodungallur).[7] Translations of the Quilon plates made by the Syrian Christian priest Ittimani in 1601 as well as the French scholar A. H. Anquetil-Duperron in 1758 both note that one of the Quilon plates mentioned a brief of the arrival of Thomas of Cana.[8][9] However, the presently available Quilon plates do not mention this episode.[8] It is generally assumed that this was a notation of the previous rights bestowed upon the Christians by the Chera king (and the abovesaid plate was missing).[9]

Translation by A. H. A. Duperron (1758): [10]

“The history of the founding of the town of Cranganore when Pattanam was the City, (he) visited, revered and requested the Emperor and the Minister at Kolla Kodungalloor for a marsh where thickets grow. Measured by Anakol (elephant kol) 4,444 kols of land was granted in the year of the Jupiter in Kubham, on the 29th of Makaram, 31 the Saturday, Rohini and Saptami (7th day of the moon),' the palace, great temple and school at Irinjalakuda also were founded. The same day that place was called Makothevar pattanam (the town of the Great God), and it was made the city (capital). From there privileges such as drawbridge at gates, ornamented arches, mounted horse with two drums, cheers, conch blowing, salutes were granted in writing to the Christian foreigner called Kynai Thomma with sacred threat and libation of water and flower. The sun and the moon are witnesses to this. Written to the kings of all times.”

Re-engraved platesEdit

Some recent studies suggest that the original text of the Thomas of Cana plates once might have been part of the Quilon plates collection.[8] Scholar István Perczel theorizes that at one time the Quilon plates and the Thomas of Cana plates, or parts of them, were re-engraved together (and thus the text of both grants were present on a single set of plates).[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Narayanan 2002, pp. 66–76.
  2. ^ a b Devadevan 2020, pp. 126–27.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Narayanan 2013, pp. 277, 278 and 295.
  4. ^ a b c Cereti 2009, pp. 31–50.
  5. ^ Varier & Veluthat 2013, p. [page needed].
  6. ^ a b c Narayanan 2013, pp. 435–37.
  7. ^ Narayanan 2013, pp. 302–303.
  8. ^ a b c d King 2018, pp. 663–679.
  9. ^ a b Vellian 1986, pp. 54–55.
  10. ^ Kollaparambil 2015, p. 179.

Works citedEdit

  • Cereti, C. G. (2009). "The Pahlavi Signatures on the Quilon Copper Plates". In Sundermann, W.; Hintze, A.; de Blois, F. (eds.). Exegisti Monumenta: Festschrift in Honour of Nicholas Sims-Williams. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. ISBN 9783447059374.
  • Devadevan, Manu V. (2020). "Changes in Land Relations and the Changing Fortunes of the Cera State". The 'Early Medieval' Origins of India. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781108494571.
  • Narayanan, M. G. S. (2002). "Further Studies in the Jewish Copper Plates of Cochin". Indian Historical Review. 29 (1–2): 66–76. doi:10.1177/037698360202900204. S2CID 142756653.
  • Narayanan, M. G. S. (2013) [1972]. Perumals of Kerala: Brahmin Oligarchy and Ritual Monarchy. Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks. ISBN 9788188765072.
  • King, Daniel, ed. (2018). The Syriac World. Routledge Press. ISBN 9781138899018.
  • Kollaparambil, Jacob (2015). Sources of the Syro Malabar Law. Oriental Institute of Religious Studies India. ISBN 9789382762287.
  • Varier, M. R. Raghava; Veluthat, Kesavan (2013). Tharissappally Pattayam. Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala): National Book Stall.
  • Vellian, Jacob (1986). Symposium on Knanites. Syrian Church Series. 12. Jyothi Book House.

Further readingEdit

  • Veluthat, Kesavan, 2009. The Early Medieval in South India. Delhi: Oxford University Press.