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Three centuries, 14 generations

MORE THAN tracing the long, murky history of a huge family, this work would stand out for some of the keen observations, and fresh arguments on many of the judgments of historians. For Rameshan Thampuran, who has been riveted to this arduous job of recording the origin, growth and evolution of the Cochin Royal Family for more than 15 years, it has been some sort of achievement.

One of the most interesting observations that emerge from this genealogy is the number of times the chain of inheritance was broken, resulting in adoptions to keep the family tree alive.

"The story of this family that flows through several centuries has not been an incessant one. There have been breaks and adoptions resorted to at various times to prevent extinction. The first such adoption took place in 1689 when Highness Rama Varma adopted six males and four females from Chazhiyoor. Despite this there was a danger of extinction. The next, incidentally the last adoption, was done in 1715 when two males and one female, were brought into the family. It was from this woman, Ikkavu Thampuran, that the great tree of what could well be the largest family in the world, flourished. This is a family spread over three centuries and 14 generations," says Rameshan Thampuran, who works with the Kerala State Electricity Board.

Incorporated in the book is a chart that depicts the spread of the family that is divided into four main branches or `thavazhis.' It has been designed systematically with eldest to the youngest members of the family arranged from left to right of the drawing. The names of the deceased members have been marked in red and interestingly the author has not forgotten to give the informal names of some of the male members which were perhaps more popular than their original ones. So we have names like Warden, Collector and Secretary and those known by their initials like PK, RV, KKR, PR etc and those relating to significant incidents like Anakuthi, Aikyakeralam and others.

Numerous findings of the author offer fresh arguments against some of the judgments made by earlier historians. For instance, according to noted historian, Puthezhathu Raman Menon, in his work `Sakthan Thampuran,' the name of Sakthan Thampuran's mother was Ambika Thampuran. But the author here argues that the formal names given to females in olden days were Amba and Subhadra. Again Raman Menon has mentioned a person called Maharajan, a nephew of Sakthan Thampuran, who was killed by Nadavarambathu Kunjikrishna Menon. The author confesses his inability to determine the exact relationship of this person and has hence not included the name in the chart. Another historian, V.K.R.Menon in `Thripunithura Granthavari,' makes a mention of three daughters of Manku Thampuran (who passed away in 1065). The author notes that this female member had only two daughters and no information was available to confirm the identity of the third.

The work is divided four broad chapters that include the origin and expansion of the Cochin State, which focuses on the other names by which the kingdom was known, the extent of the kingdom and adoptions. In the section devoted to the rulers of the State the author has drawn thumbnail sketches of the rulers from the time of the arrival of the Portuguese (16 century) in chronological order. The names of the rulers before the Portuguese, the author notes, is unavailable, except for a few names in some old records. A list of the Valiyamma Thampurans or the senior female members of the family and an introduction and notes on the family tree complete this very significant 16-page work.

K. PRADEEP

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