The Making of Regional Culture (Class 7 History Chapter 9 Notes)

Terracotta plaque depicting a chakra with fish in the center/Image Credit: Sadanand Kamath
Each region is known for its distinctive language, food, clothes, poetry, dance, music and painting. We usually take them for granted and assume that they existed from time immemorial, but the reality is much complex than that. These cultural aspects are result of constant intermixing and development over the years.

The Cheras and the Development of Malayalam
  1. In the 9th century, the Cheras of Mahodayapuram rose to their prominence. It is likely that Malayalam was spoken in the Mahodayapuram region. They were the first to use the local language in their inscriptions and royal orders. Infact, it was for first time in the subcontinent, any ruler used a regional language in official records.
  2. They heavily drew upon Sanskrit tradition and promoted temple theatre, writings and other literary works in Malayalam. Interestingly, the first Malayalam grammar books, Lilatilakam, literally means diamond and corals attributing to both Sanskrit and Malayalam.

Rulers and Religious Traditions: The Jagannatha Cult
  1. There were several societies that developed around a religious cult. The Jagannatha Cult of Puri (Odisha) is the prime example of this.
  2. In the 12th century, Anantavarman, one of the most important rulers of the Ganga dynasty, erected a temple for Purushottama Jagannatha at Puri and in 1230, his subsquent predecessor Anangabhima III dedicated the his kingdom to the deity and proclaimed himself to be his subordinate.
  3. As the temple in grew in importance, so the struggle to control the temple. Everyone from the Mughals to the British tried to control the temple.

The Rajputs and Traditions of Heroism
  1. In the 19th century, a region that mostly constitutes of present-day Rajasthan was known as the Rajputana, the land of Rajputs. The region was ruled by several Rajput families known for their heroism. On battleground, they often choose death than facing defeat. Their stories were preserved through folk songs and folk tales, often filled with high drama.
  2. The Rajput women were also associated with heroism. Similar to their husband, they chose "self-immolation" rather than violated by other men on their husband defeat.

Beyond Regional Frontiers: The Story of Kathak
  1. The term Kathak is derieved from Sanskrit word Katha which literally means the story.
  2. Earlier, it was a local dance drama performed in the temples of North India, but it evolved into a more sophisticated form of dance during 15th and 16th centuries.
  3. The dance dramas are usually associated with Krishna Rasleela. During Mughal era, it developed separately in two tradition (gharana): Jaipur and Lucknow.
  4. With the rise of 19th century, it entered Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh.
  5. The Kathak is now recognized as one of the six classical dance forms of India. Other classical dance forms are Bharatanatyam (Tamil Nadu), Kathakali (Kerala), Odissi (Odisha), Kuchipudi (Andhra Pradesh) and Manipuri (Manipur).

Painting for Patrons: The Tradition of Miniatures
  1. Miniatures are small-sized paintings, generally done in water colours on cloth or paper.
  2. The earliest miniatures were done on palm leaves or birches and associated with Jain scriptures.
  3. Later, they were patronized by the Mughals, the Rajputs and the Deccan royalties.
  4. The Mewar, Jodhpur, Bundi, Kota, Kishangarh, Kangra and Basohli (Himachal Pradesh) became important miniature painting centers with their own distinctive style.

A Closer Look: Bengal
  1. The Growth of a Regional Language
  2. Bengali similar to Hindi and other Indo-Aryan languages has its roots in Sanskrit. However, people of Bengal have recently started speaking Bengali.
  3. It is assumed that Sanskrit entered Bengal during the age of Mauryas. Later, the influence of Sanskrit became stronger with establishment of Gupta dynasty in Bengal.
  4. It was first recorded by the Chinese traveller Xuan Zang that a language similar to Sanskrit was spoken in the region of Bengal.
  5. By the time of Mughals, Bengali emerged as a language in its own right. It also added words from tribal languages, Persian and European languages to its lexicon.
  6. The Bengali literature can be divided in two categories: Sanskritic and Non-Sanskritic. Sanskritic literature inlude translation of the Sanskrit epics, the Mangalakavyas and bhakti literature. Non-Sanskritic literature include Nath literature, folk tales and ballads.

Pirs and Temples
  1. From the 16th century, people started migrating from less fertile western Bengal to forested South-eastern Bengal. Here, they cleared the land and brought rice cultivation.
  2. At the same time, the Mughals made Bengal one of their province with Dhaka as its capital. They helped several people to settle over there. This brought some order and assurance in the region.
  3. These settlements were headed by teachers and adjudicators who were sometimes abscribed with supernatural powers. These leaders were commonly known as Pirs.
  4. Bengal also saw a number of new temples cropped up on its land during the 15th to 19th centuries. A new style of temple architecture, Bengal architecture, was born. It was known for its thatched roof structures.

Fish as food
  1. As a riverine plain, Bengal was known for rice and fish. The fish as food was so popular that fishing activities were inscribed on the temple plaques.
  2. Even Brahmanas who were not allowed to touch any non-vegetarian gave up on the fish and rules were relaxed for Bengal Brahmanas to eat fish of certain varieties.