Sahapedia to document cross-cultural exchanges inherited from India’s ancient sea trade

Kochi, Jan 21: The flourishing ancient maritime trade in the Peninsular India and resulting cross-cultural exchanges that had a phenomenal impact on the tangible and intangible heritage of the region will be extensively researched and documented under a pioneering new project by Sahapedia, India’s first online interactive encyclopaedic resource on the country’s art and culture.

The documentation, which will be held at places ranging from Fort Kochi, Mattancherry Muziris/Kodungalloor, Kollam and Kozhikode in Kerala to Tamil Nadu and other parts, aims to unearth all knowledge, layer by layer. It will be a resource created by a team of researchers in collaboration with experts and institutions, and a platform for registered users from all over the world to contribute content on areas pertaining to their interests.

"We work with scholars and collaborate with institutions, both in India and abroad, for material in the form of articles, images, video interviews and documentaries. Sahapedia has also culturally mapped Fort Kochi and Mattancherry, and is now in the process of doing the same with Muziris, an ancient seaport and flourishing urban centre on the Malabar Coast that was the fulcrum of India’s sea trade with the West in ancient times,” said Sahapedia Executive Director Dr. Sudha Gopalakrishnan.

The mapping project in Kochi will delve deeper involving communities of ancient beginnings. Both tangible and intangible heritage are recorded, and interviews with eminent scholars like Dr Scaria Zacharia, Kesavan Veluthat and Ramachandra Pulavar as well as community members, she pointed out.

As a part of the objective to encourage engagement with Indian heritage and culture and to foster knowledge, Sahapedia started organising Abhimukham evenings, comprising a series of talks by scholars as well as artists on their respective areas of research and interest at Kochi once a month. The idea is to create a space for an informal, yet informed, discussion between the speaker and the audience.

‘Heritage Walks’ are being held every month at various heritage sites such as Fort Kochi, Mattancherry, Tripunithura and Muziris. Heritage Walks for less privileged schools are conducted in collaboration with the NGO, The Art Outreach Society (TAOS). 

Sahapedia, which provides a treasure trove on the arts, heritage and culture of India, has started off with multiple modules on the history and culture of Syrian Christians in Kerala, including the documentation of musical practices like Rambanpattu. It is part of a larger project on the cross-cultural relations of different communities in Kerala.

Kudukkaveena, a temple musical instrument which disappeared in the first half of the 20th century, is being recovered and brought into practice again by Sahapedia.

The portal’s work on the architecture and social significance of the ‘Mahals’ of Malabar is the first–of- its-kind. 

Sahapedia, a strong initiative towards digitisation and research on the traditional art forms of India, has also documented Pakkanarpattu and Mudiyattampattu, the music traditions of Dalit communities in the southern districts of Kerala.


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