Sunday, March 25, 2007

Agriculture in South India - 2

In my previous post on the same topic, I had speculated that tapioca could have been the staple diet of tribal Malayalis. Recently, I came across a propagandist paper written by a Malayali Christian that has details about various crops introduced by the Portuguese in India. Unlike the other content of the paper, I hope that is a fairly accurate account. Of course, tapioca is also one of those crops.

Change in dietary habits:

I read the hilarious studies that talk about how dietary changes affecting modern day Indian population because of so-called western influence. Probably, they have considered the food habits of Indians in early 20th century as something that has remained unchanged for couple of millenniums. Now, let us look into South Indian food habits of the last 500 years after the entry of Portuguese.

List of crops:
Let me list out the crops from South America that have been introduced by Portuguese.

1.Chillis: This is a wellknown import. I always wondered how widespread was the usage of black pepper, a native South Indian crop, that ensured a wholehearted adoption of this spice for that 'heat' or 'pungent' sensation. Nowadays, black pepper has very limited use in South Indian cuisine.

In my opinion, our cuisine might not be very hot 500 years back. I can understand usage of black pepper in non-vegetarian dishes but usage in vegetarian dishes sounds improbable. At least, some of such traditional dishes would have continued to the present day. But I hardly see any. But chile pepper is extensively used in vegetarian dishes. That being said, it appears our popular vegetables are not what they used to be 500 years back.

2. Beans: Another very popular family of vegetables is the Portuguese introduction.

3. Gourds: This is pure propaganda, I believe. Only South American candidate in this family is 'bottle gourd', I suppose. If this is true we have changed our side dishes completely in the last 500 years.

4. Ground nut: The most common oil in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh is extracted from this nut. I wonder what oil these two regions have used 500 years back. And what oil Tamils use?

... the rest of the plants include,
cashew, sapota, yams(popular), cacao, maize(this does have some popularity in North Karnataka), pappaya, guava, sunflower, bread fruit, sweet potato, passion fruit, anona species, pine apple, tobacco along with tapioca.

Non Portuguese introductions
I think tomato, cauliflower and cabbage were also introduced in the last 500 years.

Then what are our own vegeatables, I mean for the last 2000-3000 years? lady's fingers, probably some of the gourds like bitter gourd*, ash gourd, ridge gourd and snake gourd, gherkin, cucumber, eggplant, few leafy vegetable and few beans like red gram, black gram, horse gram etc...Of course, rice has not been replaced as the preferred cereal grain though I think our ancestors were initially wheat eaters.

Overall, though there are popular old Indian vegetables still in our cuisine(when I started to write this post, I wanted to prove almost 80-90% of the vegetables were introduced in the last 500 years), there is a strong influence of the new world vegeatables in our present cuisine. In fact, only our non-vegetarian dishes have remained unchanged. I have not come across a new animal being added to our plate.

* Bitter gourd is one of the main reasons that I suspect 'gourds' might not be one of the Portuguese introductions. One of my favourite vegetables is also part of Tulu folklore. We Tuluvas have a saying 'kaMcala ittaMDa eMcala uNNOli'. I think explanation/translation needs little background of South Indian food presentation. People have this notion that if you are having a meal then you are having rice. Or rice is the maincourse. The purpose of all other dishes(vegetable or meat) is to enable easy and sensuous intake of rice. So, you can come across statement like "If you have pickle, that is enough. I can have my meal". That Tulu saying essentially says, if bitter gourd is there then you can have your meal.

I had a bitter dispute about sweet potato with one of the commenters of this blog. I came across this article that claims Polynesians found South America before anybody and introduced chicken there. Now the question is whether Polynesians sailed to India and introduced sweet potato and also whether they sailed to China and introduced peanut. Or is that just one of those studies?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The position of Tulu Language - III

Bellara is a Scheduled Caste in Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu. Singh reports they speak a dialect of Kannada.


Note: Bellari is a dialect/variety of Tulu.

Unfortunately, I have no idea how to pronounce 'bellari'. Anyway, I assume the community is called beLLAra and the language is called beLLAri.

The Scheduled castes or the erstwhile untouchable castes, in my opinion, mainly came from two backgrounds.
1. Purity and pollution: The communities engaged in so-called polluting occupations, ie. leather works, scavenging etc... were made outcasts.
2. Tribal origins: Many tribal communities as they made transition from tribal life to mainstream life were included in outcasts in old caste Indian society.(Ironically, I believe, ritual purity of tribals was higher than untouchables!)

Now, consider the community beLLAri and the district in Karnataka bordering Telugu speaking Andhra Pradesh, baLLAri. Is it not possible that a region getting its name from a tribe or vice versa?

Therefore, in my opinion, along with zeTTi, baMTe even beLLAra came from Telugu region to Tulu region.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Origins of Indians: Version 6.2.3

More proofs on Semitic Introgression Theory(SIT):
This blogger discusses about similarities between Mesopotamian hymns and Vedic hymns. And rejects any borrowings in Astrology and Mathematics. Well, I too reject any borrowings because I believe Haplogroups J2a and G2 people were already part of South Asia by the time Indo-Aryans migrated to the subcontinent. If we compare other Indo-European societies in Europe who did not develop such advanced(relatively speaking ...exception, of course, are the Asians in Europe, Greeks) society around that time, I believe it was undoubtedly the Semitic influence.

IE society and classes:
It has been observed the early RigVedic society had two divisions. Warriors(rAjanya) and Common men(vaizya) but the later society shows four fold varNa system with Brahmins occupying the highest position with a strict hereditary structure. In my opinion, this was brought about by elite priests of West Asian traditions and from population genetics we can identify them as belonging to clans Haplogroup J2a and G2.

Now consider classes/castes of three IE societies:
Division ------------- Colour-------- Occupation
brAhmaNa----------- White--------- Priests
kSatriya (rAjanya) ---Red ----------Warriors
vaizya--------------- Yellow-------- Common men(occupational groups)
zUdra---------------- Black--------- Slaves/serfs

However, here we have to observe that only traders remained as vaizya in the later period and the rest became part of zUdras. Common sense tells us, considering the nomadic nature of Indo-Aryans and trading nature of IVC, traders could have been the least Aryans among those divisions. And considering the pastoral nature of Indo-Aryan society, ie. farmers and herdsmen and occupational groups, a big chunk of Aryans became part of zUdras in the later period.
Note: A recent study of South Indian golla(Telugu herders) show some clans having higher frequency of R1a1(resembling North West Indian population).
Now consider Norse society:
According to Norse mythology, there are there classes.
Division------ Colour------ Occupation
Rig----------- White------- Warriors
Smith-------- Red--------- Common people
Thrall*------- Black--------- Slaves/Serfs

The Wikipedia article tries to connect Rig to both Brahmins and Ksatriyas. Anyway, I will go by the etymological similarities. Rig and rAajan are cognates. And considering the early RigVedic society divisions, Rig can only be warriors. As expected Common people were herdsmen and farmers. Thrall is an interesting case. If you consider Scandinavian society R1a1 forms 20-30% of the population. The rest being R1b and I, the natives. Were these Slaves/Serfs part of IE society or were they natives? If they were part of IE society what about Sudras? Were they also part of original IA society that moved to South Asia? Let us consider the second case. They were the natives. Then the question is whether colour black was just a metaphor or Central/Western Europeans were black until they came into contact with Eastern Europeans? Probably, both lactase persistence and light colour appeared first in Eastern Europe or Steppe and then spread North-Westward quickly.

Now consider Celtic society;
According to Wikipedia article on Druids:
Nobles ----- ? ----------?

By population Genetics, Celtic society has the lowest frequency of R1a1(at present responsible for the spread of IE languages). Therefore, IE-isation of these people could be similar to IA-isation of Marathis in India(who closely resemble their southern, Dravidian, neighbours in Haplogroup frequencies). That is a section of population of language X, coming into contact with a population of language Y, adopting that language and spreading that language to remaining section of language X without any gene mixing from language Y population. Probably, in Central Europe?

Considering such a low R1a1, I don't believe the society showed marked IE culture like that in North Europe and India. First of all, the classes were not comparable to Indian castes. Consider this sentence from Caeser's accounts;
Druids were not a hereditary caste
That I feel very important along with Strabo's second hand account(which does not contradict any of Caeser's accounts, I believe);
Celtic priestly order or class included Druids, Bards and Vates (soothsayers).
That sounds like old societies throughout the world. Probably, were more like Shamanic medicine men. Even Dravidian society had these 'priests' initially. However, Celtic society shows both Semitic and IE influences. Probably, Semitic influences(sun god) were carried there by farmers and not priests.

By comparing these three societies we can conclude that, in the original IE society priest's(if he could be called so... as he could be Shaman too ... as in the case of all Steppe people) position was not the highest and one IE society which apparently showed such a setup was not even culturally IE in true sense(Celtic).

* Thrall was 'svartan'(dark/black colour) according to Norse mythology. There is no IA equivalent for this word. Curiously, till date zUdra etymology has not been found out. I found the following etymology at StarLing Database at Germanic section;

Proto-Germanic: *swarta-, *surtōn, -ēn
IE etymology:
swart-s (a) `black'
Old Norse:
svart-r `schwarz'; sorta f. `schwarze Farbe', sorti m. `dunkel, dichter Nebel'
Latin: sordēre `schmutzig sein', sordidus, -a `schmutzig, gering, geizig', sordēs, gen. -is f. `Schmutz, Unflat; Unglück, Erniedrigung'

Consider Old Norse and Latin words for black. I wonder if that can tell us whether 'sudra' and 'swarta' are cognates and essentially meant 'black'.

Update: 3-March-2007
I found something here.

schwarz, adj. (8. Jh.), < mhd. swarz < ahd. swarz < urgerm. *swarta (> got. swarts, anord. sorta) < urindoeur. *sortə < urural. *surtə grau, blau, Schmutz, Rauch, Scheisse, verstecken (> ursam. *sire, urugr. *surna, urfinn. *ʃar „grau; ursam. *suðraχ, urugr. *sur, urfinn. *ðsor „blau; urugr. *sar, urfinn. *saro „Schmutz; ursam. *suðo, urugr. *siχ, urfinn. *swit „Rauch; urugr. *sart, urfinn. *ʃort Scheisse; urugr. *tsawajt, urfinn. *tʃart verstecken) nhd. schwärzen; nschw. svart; nisl. svartur; urind. *sakrt „Schmutz.

I wonder about the pronunciation of the word in red.

Update: 18-Apr-2007

Razib at Gene Expression has this entry on Turkish analogy for Indo-Europeans. I too believe the scenario where nomadic tribes from Eurasian Steppe spreading their languages(by whatever means) but taking up the West Asian/Semitic culture. In India, I propose, this could be found in uneven distribution of Y-Hg-J2a and G2 but, almost uniform distribution of Steppe marker R1a1 among North-West Indian castes.

An interesting point is the word 'Sudra'. One of the members at Quetzalcoatl Anthropology forum informed me that hypothetical construction(see above) of the word 'black' which is close to Sudra is in fact Proto-Samoyedic, part of Uralic family. It has been argued that IE words in Finno-Ugric/Uralic family in fact belong to Indo-Iranian family. I still do not know if these Indo-Iranians are primary or secondary of tertiary IE people. However, this proto-word for black can still be considered one of the borrowed words between Indo-Iranians and Uralic languages, probably, from Uralic to Indo-Iranian.