Caste During Dutch Times - A report Commissioned by Govenor Van Rhee

<< Back to Home Page

The character of the colonisation’s of Jaffna outlined already in an earlier chapter, gives us  a background against which to view in the cast in Jaffna, the nucleus of which we may rightly trace to the groups  represented in these series of immigrations , our first insight into cast of Jaffna we own to the Dutch, specifically  to  the memory of Thomas  Van  Rhee, Governor   and  director of Ceylon  under the Dutch. His enumeration  of the Jaffna castes is so remarkably comprehensive of the picture of the society of the Dutch times, that I herein reproduce  it in full, faithful to the original :-

  • The Bellasas – the most numerous of all the castes.
    The Chiandos, “few in numbers”
    The Tanakaras
    The Paraesses
    The  Maddapallys – employed to assist in the kitchen.
    Malleales  Agambadys.
    Fishers -  six different classes – Carreas , Mockeas , Paruwas , Chimibaslawas ,Kaddeas , and Timilas , requied to serve as sailors on board  the company ‘s  vessels  12 days  in the year.
    The Moors -  bound to assist in launching boats and hauling them ashore.
    The Chitty – assisting the  cashier in counting the copper coins when they carry in their trade in bazaar.
    The Silversmiths.
    Washers – “bound to deck the houses and churches with white linen for the  land-regents and other qualified officers of the company when on circuit.”
    Christian Carpenters ; Heathen Carpenters.
    Christians Smiths ; Heathen Smiths, small in numer.
    Potters – required to deliver pots and tresellen for using the fortification works.
    Pallas or dye – root diggers – bound to dig for dye – roots  and deliver them to the lord of the land for payments.
    Dyers – bound to dye cloth for the lord of the land.
    Oil-makers – bound to buy up the oil for the company and delivered to the  store at the cost price.
    Toerambas are the washers of the nalawas.
    Chivias – bound to bear the palanquins of the commander  and the dissave and provide the houses and the guards of the castle  with water.
    Founderdoors  - make copper ware for the company.
    Cabinet - markers.
    Shield markers.
    Tailors – bound to deck with white linen, houses of high official s arriving at Jaffnapatam
    Shoe – markers.
    Barhmins – performs no service to the company, but pays 2 fanams each years  as pole tax.
    Palweleys – launching and hauling ashore the company’s   clear and white wash  the church in the castel  and the houses of the Commander and the Dissave.
    Parruas – assist the cashier at the castle to count copper  coins.
    Marruas  - bound to serve as Lascorline.
    Pallas – slaves of the inhabitants , bound to  feed the company’s elephant one day each month with ola   carry palanquins and the luggage of qualified officers.
    Nalluwas – slaves as above. Palla slaves living in weligama are the bondsmen of the company and bound  to work in the gun powder mills for  3 to 6 days in the month and provide grass for the hourses.
    Kalicarre Pareas  are also bondsmen of the company.
    Kottoe Pareas
    Chiandas  Weulepedre  , bound to carry the language of the company.
    Wallias or the commender’s kitchen.
     Covias or slaves of the inhabitance born here. Perform no service.                                                                                   

The functions noted  against each  group  gives us insight into the very  purpose of search an exhaustive list, - prescribing the service each  cast has to give to the company. Some caste are donated purly by their work , as the carpenters and the cabinet makers. Some are distinguished by thir religion , Christians
Carpenters, Heathen carpenters, Christian smiths,  Heathen Smiths. Three names, evidently in dutch are the Foundadoors (22), who makes copper wares for the company, Weulepedre who carried the language (39) and Beultekares (40) “required to hunt and supply heres for the Commander’s kitchen”. Paradesses (4) literally, outsiders, may be a general term to cover people of on fixed abode, wandering ministrels and the like from South India. Tawassys (31) from tapassi, are hermits or sanyasins.

Two groups who do no service to the company are the Brahmins (30) and covias (41). Parruuas (33) are no doubt the Paravar, the Bharatavar as they are known today. Marruas (34) are the Maravr, enlisted as lascorines (solidiers). The  Pariah appear under the tree names, Pareas (13), Kalicarre Pariah (37) and Kottoe – carre parreas (38). The letter evidently are those who  waved kottoe or baskets. Kalicarre, may be Kulicar or laborers. Weavers (12) may donote the Andhra group of Chenia Chettis brought by the company from South India, to promote cotton weaving .



0 comments at the moment.
Leave your comment

<< Previous Article Back to Home Page
Home Profiles Family Tree Glossary Gallery Maps Traditions Disclaimer
© 2024 All Rights Reserved. Partnered by S P Solutions