Tharisapalli plates

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The Tharisappalli Copper Plates (849 AD) are a copper-plate grant issued by the King of Venadu (Quilon), Ayyanadikal Thiruvadikal, to the Saint Thomas Christians on the Malabar Coast in the 5th regnal year of the Chera ruler Sthanu Ravi Varma.[1] Parochial writers claim that the inscription describes the gift of a plot of land to the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church at Tangasseri near Quilon (now known as Kollam), along with several rights and privileges to the Syrian Christians led by Mar Sapir Iso.[2] But in reality there was no Malankara Orthodox church when Mar Iso came to Kollam. As a matter of fact Mar Iso was from Persia and not from Syria and he came as a refugee from Persia because of the persecution of Christians by Zoroastrian rulers. There were merchants from the Middle East in Kollam, especially Jews and Persians.The local ruler Thiruvadikal wanted to encourage trade links with the Middle East and therefore he granted many privileges to traders so that they could establish mercantile factories. The grant of land to Mar Iso by Thiruvadikal is a proof that he thought that Mar Iso was a merchant like other foreign merchants who visited Kollam. In the copper plate it is shown that he gave a tract of land to Mar Sapir Iso which was inhabited by lower castes. It was a custom in those days to grant lands to foreign merchants, local Brahmins and temples Lower castes living in those gifted lands had to serve the foreigners. Mar Iso being a missionary from Persia converted the inhabitants in the land given to him. They were the first converts of Mar Iso. Mar Iso introduced Nestorian belief as in Persia and Syriac liturgy. Conversion of the people of the entire village given to him increased Christian population in Kollam region. One of the famous converts was Paulose, widely known as Paulose Kathanar (catechist). He was endowed with mystical powers.Converted Kollam Christians became the nucleus for the growth of Christianity in Travancore and Kochi regions at a later stage. The alphabet in the copper plates has not been correctly deciphered till now. Some eminent historians are now engaged in deciphering the contents in the copper plates, although some Syrian Christian translators have twisted in their favour by giving a wrong interpretation.[citation needed]

The Tharisappalli copper plates are one of the important historical inscriptions of Kerala, the date of which has been accurately determined.[3] The grant was made in the presence of important officers of the state and the representatives of trade corporations or merchant guilds. It also throws light on the system of taxation that prevailed in early Venad, as several taxes such as a profession tax, sales tax and vehicle tax are mentioned. It also testifies to the enlightened policy of religious toleration followed by the rulers of ancient Kerala.

There are two sets of plates as part of this document, and both are incomplete. The first set documents the land while the second details the attached conditions. The signatories signed the document in the Hebrew, Pahlavi, and Kufic languages.[4] One part of the Tharisappalli copper plates is kept at the Devalokam Aramana of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church while the other is at Poolatheen Aramana (Thiruvalla) of Malankara Marthoma Syrian Church. Some eminent scholars are now engaged in translating the alphabet. Translation by parochial writers may not be correct. The question now is that the Malankara Marthoma Church came into existence only after the CMS missionaries came to Kottayam in the late 18th century. and it is unclear how these copper plates ended up in the Devalokam Aramana and Mar Thoma church at Thiruvalla. This doubt arises because the grant of privileges to Joseph Rabban, a Jewish merchant, by Bhaskara Ravi Varman in 1000 C.E. is genuine. But the same privileges allegedly given to one fictitious Thomas of Cana in copper plates are not to be traced. But only a counterfeit copy is shown to claim the privileges. In light of this, the Tharisarapalli plates now in churches in Kottayam and Thiruvalla are to scientifically tested (carbon dating) to find out the age of the plates and their authenticity.

Tharisappalli copper plates


  1. ^ A Survey of Kerala History - A. Sreedhara Menon. ISBN 81-264-1578-9.
  2. ^ S.G. Pothan (1963) The Syrian Christians of Kerala, Bombay: Asia Publishing House.
  3. ^ Cheriyan, Dr. C.V. Orthodox Christianity in India. pp. 85, 126, 127, 444–447.
  4. ^ M. K. Kuriakose, History of Christianity in India: Source Materials, (Bangalore: United Theological College, 1982), pp. 10–12. Kuriakose gives a translation of the related but later copper plate grant to Iravi Kortan on pp. 14–15. For earlier translations, see S. G. Pothan, The Syrian Christians of Kerala, (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1963), pp. 102–105.

See also

  • K. Sivasankaran Nair, Venadinte Parinamam, D C Books (Kottayam), 2005.
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