Saturday, April 24, 2010

Origins of Malayalis ?.3.0

Except for an exotic community, Malayali Jews, there are hardly any population genetics studies on Malayali population in general. Even though many tribes in South India have been studied extensively, non-tribes are yet to be considered. Recently there was a study on Indian Muslim population which takes into account Malayali Muslim community, Mappila.

If you read the introduction to Mappila by the authors of the study then you feel the Tamil propaganda in full flow. Therefore, it is necessary to revisit my model of Dravidian civilization and the formation of various communities in South India.

In my opinion, Dravidian languages survived in South India mainly because leadership was still Dravidian. As the Dravidian tribes in Central India made transition to sedentary life, the communities were still controlled by the Dravidian chieftains. Of course, not all. The exception you can find in the only lapsed Dravidian region, Maharashtra. In that region the Dravidian tribes were controlled by the Indo-Aryan chieftains.

Generally, ruling classes change the linguistic identity of the population they control. The examples could be found in South India too.

In Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, the ruling classes of Muslims were non-Dravidian Muslims for a long period. As a result all Dravidian converts had turned into Indo-Aryans. Even in Tamil Nadu, a short span of non-Dravidian Muslim rule was enough to shift nearly half of the Muslim population to Indo-Aryan identity. However, in Kerala, Muslims were always under either Dravidian non-Muslims or Dravidian Muslim rulers. And they have retained their linguistic identity.

That's about linguistic identity retention of Dravidians in general and Dravidian Muslims in particular. I have previously discussed about Dravidian civilization and have argued that it's a synthesis of Dravidians and Prakrits from the beginning. Malayali Muslim community is not an exception to this rule.

The earliest Prakrit entrants to the Dravidian region were herders and merchant-artisans. This is the basis for my another argument for some of the Dravidian tribes in food abundant regions to make transition to matrilineal sedentary society(Tuluvas and Malayalis). The important factor is artisan-merchants and also priests may impart cultural motifs but they would not be influential enough to change the linguistic identity of the native population. Maybe a language can get the prestigious position in a society if it's part of the power circles. Nevertheless, synthesis could be seen in the emergence of the caste system in the native Dravidian region and  in the Dravidization of the assimilated Prakrit speaking brahmins and merchant-artisans.

The earliest Prakrit migrants would be from northern and eastern Indian (present day UP and Bihar) region, the centre of the Indian civilization. One would expect a high percentage of haplogroup R1a1 among these population. This is indeed the case with Mappilas.

Many Malayali communities were formed around the artisan-merchant guilds. The guilds which were initially formed in Prakrit speaking regions continued the motifs \of the earliest guilds of North India in South India. The guilds in South India of mixed Prakrit and Dravidian speakers exhibited native linguistic identity as the time passed. The castes of guilds in Andhra spoke Telugu, in Karnataka spoke Kannada, in Tamil Nadu spoke Tamil, in Tulu Nadu spoke Tulu and of course in Kerala spoke Malayalam. The migration to coastal Tulu and Malayali regions can be from either from west coastal route (Karnataka) or from Tamil Nadu. Couple of merchant guilds, Anju Varnam and Manigramam were native to Kerala region. Whereas, Valanjiar was probably a pan-Indian guild and a proof of the Prakrit migrations. Kannada term Banajiga, Telugu term Balanja (Balija), Tamil/Malayalam term Valanji are cognates with Indo-Aryan term 'Baniya'. These Prakrit or Prakrit derived terms are cognate with Sanskrit term Vanijya(trade).

As I have discussed previously many Muslim and Christian communities were formed around these merchant guilds. Since linguistic identity of these guilds were already Malayali, the immigrant Jewish, Christian and Arab merchants who assimilated with locals did not change the linguistic identity but profoundly changed the cultural identity.

Of course, the cultural identity overwrites all other identities, therefore, the popular identity of Mappilas was Arab. We can gauge the extent of Arab influence if we check the Y-haplogroup frequencies of Mappila from that study:

H1a: 22.5% - Dravidian
H2:     5% - Dravidian
J2: 10% (Dravidian if J2b)
J*(J1): 10%  - Arab
L: 10% - Dravidian
K: 5% - Dravidian
R1a1: 32.5% - Indo-Aryan
R2: 5% - Dravidian

As you can see, the Arab ancestry accounts for 10% of the population. The rest are Indian. By my estimation, 40% of them descendants of Prakrit speaking merchant-artisans and the rest 50% are native Dravidian tribes.

Traces of sub-Saharan and Middle Eastern lineages in Indian Muslim populations -Muthukrishnan Eaaswarkhanth et al. 2009
European Journal of Human Genetics (2010) 18, 354–363; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2009.168; published online 7 October 2009 


Anonymous said...

This is result of the kerala DNA project - so far majority contributors are syrian christians and nairs


manju said...

Thank you for posting the results. I'm aware of that project. My understanding is that many of the contributors are related. I suppose at present it's tough to generalize the results but we do see a trend there. J2a certainly tells West Asian origin of the section of the Syrian Christian population. However, I would suppose J2a should be accompanied by J1 and E1b1b too.

We can expect only J1 representing 100% of Arab signature among Mappila Muslims considering the fact it's found around 75% Arabs in the Arabian peninsula. However, J2a is observed around 30% of any population in West Asia. So one would expect J1 and E1b1b too. I suppose the skewed results are because of related samples.

Inferring anything for matrilineal castes of Malabar from Y-haplogroup results is not going to be easy.

Anonymous said...

i thought j2a presence indicated dravidian as it is present in many tamil castes also

manju said...

Please refer Sengupta et al. (2006). There the distribution showed J2b predominance among Tamil castes (except Brahmins where J2a frequency was greater than J2b). There was a Dravidian tribe called Toda with J2a at 25% of the population (N=8). However, it was an exception.

However, the later studies found J2a being dominant among a Tibeto-Burman isolated community in Uttara Pradesh(Malana), and also Indo-European tribes in Maharashtra (Mahadeo-Koli and Thakar)showed more J2a than J2b.

I guess additional research is required to determine whether subclades found in Dravidian J2a, IE J2a, TB J2a are the same or not. I believe J2a migrated to India before the development of the civilizations in West Asia.

Anyway, as I argued in a separate comment, Dravidian uniparental lineages must make sense from Dravidian linguistic diversity.

Anonymous said...

J2/J2a is found among Georgians, Chechens, Armenians,Turks,Greeks, Iranians. Bulgarians.Romanians, Italians,Vlach,Jews etc while J2b is found among Albanians, Greeks, Croats, Serbs and also Indians.

Anonymous said...

Among Iyers and Iyengars, the major Haplotypes are R1a1, J2a, J2b*, G2a, R2, H1, L1, and C5.The Iyengar name is an extension of Iyer, and has an interesting origin. When the north Indian Brahmins settled in the South (mostly after 4th century CE, although there were small migrations earlier), the word Ayya (from Arya) was used by the local Tamils to refer to, or address, the Brahmins.

Manjun Edangan said...

There could be different subclades of J2a which represent different cultural/linguistic association. I'm not sure.

'Ayya/Aigalu/Ainoru' is a honorific in Kannada, Malayalam and Telugu societies too. However, I'm not sure if that's used only for Brahmins. Ayya suffix was common among many castes in Kannada region. Also, in rural Telugu region, ayya is father.

A Tamil village deity is called Aiyanar which I suppose has lower caste priests and worshipers. A similar deity is observed in other Dravidian regions (including Maharashtra, which is most likely a lapsed Dravidian region).

In view of these facts, can we say, 'ayya' is exclusively associated with 'Arya' or with Tamil Brahmins. Certain Dravidian terms can be associated with certain castes because of caste restrictions. In Kerala, many Dravidian terms are associated with only Malayali Brahmins but that don't make them Indo-Aryan words since Malayali Brahmins were supposedly migrants of northern India.

It's not just Brahmins but many other castes (From Dalits onwards) that have assimilated Indo-Aryan speakers from North. You can check population genetics studies on this. So, many Indo-Aryan terms could be the result of these migrations too.

In fact, there is another term, 'ajja' in Kannada and Tulu regions and 'achcha' in Malayalam region, which is considered the tadbhava or Prakrit form of 'arya' in South India. I suppose you might find that word in Tamil too.

Regarding Brahmins being 'Aryans', I suppose that could be seen in the haplogroups J2a and G2 as these are common in the Iranian regions. However, other haplogroups show gene flow from Indo-Europeans and Dravidians.

Yes, Iyer and Iyengars in Tamil Nadu show similar genetic profile. However, in Karnataka, Iyengars are mixed population of Kannada Jains and Tamil Vaisnavas. I suppose a study(Sahoo et al. 2006?) found predominance of H1 in Iyengars of Karnataka. It appears because the reference society was that of the Tamils, the community language had become Tamil. This kind of language dominance could be seen in Kannada converts to Islam too (who mostly speak Hindi now).