Thirupporur and Vadakkuppattu: Eighteenth century locality accounts – A report by Centre for Policy Studies

This research monograph on Thirupporur and Vadakkuppatu: Eighteenth Century Locality Accounts, prepared jointly by the Centre for Policy Studies, Chennai and Tamil University, Thanjavur, presents a graphic picture of the society and polity of eighteenth century Tamil Nadu.

The Chengalpattu Survey of 1767-1774 was perhaps the first effort that the British made to understand the ways of the Indian people before devising modes of effectively subjugating and administering them. Accounts of over 2100 localities of the Chengalpattu region of Tamil Nadu were collected as a part of this Survey.

These accounts present the most detailed picture available anywhere of the functioning of Indian society, economy and polity at its basic level, before it was disrupted and transformed through the instruments of British administration.

This monograph is mainly based on the Tamil palm-leaf accounts of the Chengalpattu Survey which have been obtained from the office of the District Collector at Kanchipuram and also utilises the English summary accounts presented in about fifty Registers available at the Tamil Nadu State Archives at Chennai.

In preparing this book the authors have pooled together expertise from diverse fields such as manuscriptology, archaeology and computer technology for information processing and development of new fonts for printing.

They have compiled the traditional verses that describe the special symbols used in ancient manuscripts and have aptly classified these symbols as those pertaining to numbers, measures, abbreviations and conjunct letters.

In their introduction they have given an overview of the Chengalpattu society and polity, during the eighteenth century, as brought out by the records of the Chengalpattu Survey of 1767-1774.

They have discussed the land-use pattern under the heads of purampokku, maniyam and varappatru and explain how the purampokku was composed of a large number of kovil, kulam, kuttai, turavu, tangal, madu, eri, puntottam, toppu, kalamedu, nattam, malai and so on. They have brought out the details of the large number of communities that lived in these localities.

They have brought to light the high level of agricultural production and productivity and the large number of grains that were grown such as Nel (paddy), Varagu, Kelvaragu, Kambu, Tinai, Samai, Kollu, Ellu, Tuvarai, Ulundu and so on. They have also highlighted the fact that a number of cultural institutions, such as the great temples, received a share in the produce from a large number of localities.

There are many other notable features of the eighteenth century Tamil society, which are brought out in this book, such as the fact that as a consequence of the region coming under a new rule, the Governments started raising the level of taxation to 40 per cent of the produce; the fact that these locality records do not associate the name of any individual with any of the lands except in the case of maniyams; the fact that cultivated lands often constituted less than a third of the total area of a locality which allocated a large part of its lands for other purposes such as for habitations, forests, water bodies, and so on. 

Different sections of the book may be downloaded below –