Land and Society in Malabar

Land and Society in Malabar

Land and Society in Malabar

Land and Society in Malabar

Excerpt

This book is an analysis of the social system of one part of India in relation to its most important base, the system of agriculture. The District of Malabar is a tiny part of India's south-western coast. Its people are a fraction of the millions making up India's population. But the changes that are now taking place in Malabar are representative of those affecting the entire country. At first glance, however, the overland traveller feels rather the differences which mark Malabar from the surrounding country. From a region of plains, shimmering distances and sharp mountain ranges, he comes to the rolling country of red earth and rock. From a treeless and arid landscape he enters a district of palms and lagoons. If it is during the monsoon time, the rain is overpowering, and grey skies contrast with the lush green of paddy in the low, terraced valleys. The tightly-packed villages give way to scattered houses, set in their own gardens. The buildings are often hidden by palms and banana fronds, and the country-side seems empty of dwellings, yet full of people; it is impossible to find a road without people on it in the whole of Malabar. These people, fluent, quick and responsive, are different from those of the surrounding areas. They speak their own language; white cloth, cleaner than is usual elsewhere, takes the place of the coloured saris in the east. The visitor will also know that they have their own cultural expressions; the Ottamthullal, Krishnatankali and, supreme form of art, the Kathakali, where drama, song, rhythm and movement are combined in a highly stylized triumph of grace and technique.

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