Marakkar and Zamorin of Calicut
Recently, a petition was filed in the Kerala High Court against the film- Marakkar: The Lion of the Arabian Sea, alleging ‘distortion of history’ and demanding a stay on the release. It is a war film depicting the heroics of the Marakkar clan, whose leaders were naval chieftains of the Zamorin of Calicut during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Who were the Marakkars?
• By some accounts, they were of Arab origin and had migrated from Tunisia to Panthalayani near Koyilandy in present-day Kozhikode, and later moved to the region around present-day Kottakkal and Thikkodi near Payyoli.
• By other accounts, the Marakkars were descendants of affluent businessman from the Cochin kingdom who migrated later to Calicut.
• As per Historian, the name ‘Marakkar’ could have originated from maram or marakkalam, meaning ship, as these families lived along the coast and used ships. Alternatively, it could have originated from the Arabic word markaba, meaning those who migrated via ships.
• The Marakkars were mostly Muslims, but in some parts, they have been found to be Hindus as well.
• The Marakkars fought against Portuguese invaders for nearly a century.
About Zamorin of Calicut
The Zamorin, Samoothiri in Malayalam, was the title given to rulers of the Calicut kingdom on the Malabar Coast.
The Zamorins ruled for almost six centuries, between 12th and 18th century AD based at the city of Calicut, the one of most important trading centre in South India. At the zenith in the 15th century, the kingdom covered almost all of present day northern and central regions of Kerala state.
It was after the disintegration of the Later Chera Kingdom in early 12th century, the Zamorins (originally Eradis of NediyirippuSwarūpam) became completely independent and became a powerful economic and naval force.
The relative absence of intra-family quarrels and splits (like other Nair royalties) was one of the factors in the dramatic success of the Zamorins.
They had good trade relations with the Muslim-Arabs and Chinese, the primary spice traders on the Malabar Coast in the Middle Ages.
The KunhaliMarakkars, the famous Muslim admirals, were the naval chiefs of the Zamorins. The Zamorins held most of the other important trading ports on the across Malabar Coast.