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The Structure of Calicut
During the Post Classical Era, Southern India contributed many ideologies to the Post Classical World. One of the most vital accomplishments that Southern India contributed during this time was the imperative trading centers. One of the most well known trading centers during this time was the "City of Spices", a name given to the city of Calicut located on the western border of Southern India. Calicut did not only provide a necessary trading center to the Indian Ocean Basin, it also provided a culturally diverse city as well as a stable authority, a product of its governmental rule and constant commerce. Overall, Calicut proved to be a crucial city that allowed for the prosperity and stabilization of Southern India.
After the fall of the Gupta Empire, Southern Asia was left in a state of disorganization and ultimate chaos. Due to the Deccan Plateau, Southern India found protection from the powerful invaders to the north. Under more stable conditions, local regional kings began to form which, for the time being, provided a loosely organized state to many cities such as Calicut. After approximately 200 years of regional kingdoms, the first large empire began to form in Southern India which was known as the Chola Kingdom (cited in
Traditions and Encounter,. 2003). The Chola Kingdom formed from two regional kingdoms that expanded over much of Southern India, allowing the kingdom to have a lose grip over other regional states. The Chola Kingdom was mainly a decentralized government as many of the other kingdoms in the past were. However, compared to other government institutions that were developed in India, the Chola Kingdom was somewhat more centralized than others. The Chola Kingdom allowed for developments of villages and state institutes as long

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as the regional states continued to maintain order and deliver tax revenues on time. It could therefore be implied that Calicut had a regional state organization that mainly followed the regulations set by the Chola government during this time. Soon after the Chola forces conquered the Ceylon's, the Kingdom began to decline due to revolutions and revolts; however, it did not completely fall, it merely reduced in size and power.
The next kingdom that dominated most of Southern India was the Kingdom of Vijayanagar. The Kingdom of Vijayanagar developed with the help of the Sultans of Delhi. Two officials, Harihara and Bukka, were sent to implement their policies on Southern India. However, they realized they could become independent rulers, and so the Kingdom of Vijayanagar developed. The Kingdom of Vijayanagar dominated much of Southern India for an extraordinary length of time until it fell to Mughal conquerors from the north in 1565.(cited in
Traditions and Encounter, 2003). The Kingdom of Vijayanagar followed many of the same policies as the previous kingdom. Regional states developed throughout most of the kingdom as it too was decentralized.
The city of Calicut most likely developed its own regional state; however, they primarily followed the laws enforced by the main kingdom. It could also be inferred that temples were built in or around the city as they served as a crucial public center that allowed for stabilization within the society. Events such as collecting taxes took place within the temples, which was one main requirement of developing a small regional kingdom. Temples helped maintain social order within the kingdom as they served as a place of meeting for the public. Temple administrators maintained the order within the temples and delivered the collected taxes to the Chola officials.
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(cited in
Traditions and Encounter, 2003). Calicut most likely had a temple within the city. Although Calicut fell in the shadow of the larger kingdoms that dominated most of Southern India, the stability kept by officials, as well as the laws they enforced on the city and its people, allowed for Calicut to stabilize and develop as a strong trading center and to prosper within the empire.
Since the early formation of the maritime trade center Calicut, the city has been a multiethnic and multi-religious landmark. Due to the influx of Western Indian Ocean traders, the city of Calicut was very accepting of foreigners strongly due to the occupation of the town by many Portuguese officials. Hinduism was the primary religion of the Indian town, followed by Islam and Christianity, respectively. Religious customs, such as the gods or goddesses that were usually worshiped in Hinduism, drastically differed from those of other Indian port cities. As many other ports practiced Islam after their arrival and ultimately their take over. The Muslims of the land were almost always Sunni, the ‘descendants’ of the Shafi. While the Christians were introduced into the area in 52 Common Era, their population remained low until the Fifteenth Century.

The society of Calicut was often represented as one which radiated out from a main temple. These temples would often be dedicated to a goddess, or Devi, and would mostly dictate the culture and practices of that area. With the bring-about of foreign religions such as Confucianism via trade and the cultural diffusion associated with this trade, ancestral worship was also a common sight amongst certain sects. When trade became dominant from other South Asian communities, their local religions and deities became more and more popular in Calicut.
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(cited in The New Book of Knowledge, 2010) Interestingly enough, many citizens of Calicut today worship ancestors on the female side of the family, known as matrilineal worship. This is interesting because even after all of the cultural adoptions faced by portside Calicut, the city managed to retain a practice introduced in the pre-Shang China era.
After the brief rule of a Muslim Sultan in 1310 Common Era, the kingdoms of Samantha Kshatriya and Nair came into rule. Not so oddly, the society of Calicut during their rule was prominently a matriarch. Perhaps more commerce strengthened the idea of a matriarch, and eventually managed to overtake the region. Many travel and business documents have been recovered that date to this time. In particular, those of Chinese travelers such as Zheng He have been found in great number (cited in
The New Book of Knowledge, 2010). This may help justify the spread of the matriarchal culture, even though travelers such as Zheng He were not pre-Shang, surely they retained these ways.
Christianity did not fully develop until the Fifteenth Century, yet it evolved with supremacy (cited in
Traditions and Encounters, 2003). Christians from the Indian cities Travancore and Cochin first settled in the hilly, higher elevated parts of the city, and generally separated from the population. Eventually, as they slowly advanced toward the inner city, the number of Christians boomed. As more and more citizens of Calicut became Christians, cultural diffusion nearly reversed itself. Now regions that were trading with Calicut would often pick up and retain Christianity, with Calicut commerce credited as the original source. Calicut can be summarized as a city of people highly influenced by trade and economics, to a point where the people even influenced other lands. Because the city was so trade oriented, the economy of Calicut became greater than stellar.
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Calicut was dubbed the "City of Spices" during the Medieval Era, due to its vital importance in the Indian Ocean Basin. Calicut served as one of the most imperative trading centers in Southern India. Its location was the essential reason as to why Calicut became such an important trading cite. Located along the West Coast of India along the Arabian Sea, contact between the small city states of Africa was manageable and necessary in order for the economy of Calicut to thrive. However, Calicut was also able to make contact with empires such as China and Islam. Calicut mainly traded textiles, beads, porcelain, incense, and undoubtedly, spices (cited in The Encyclopedia Americana, 2010). As trade proceeded with various countries, the economy of Calicut inevitably grew stronger.
Trade along the Silk Routes also helped stabilized the economy of Calicut and furthermore India. As Western Europe and China's exchange of goods continued, India partially benefited. Items from Europe would voyage to India; India would trade them with merchants from China as the distance from Europe to China was exceedingly far, and vice versa (cited in Calicut Heritage, 2009). As Calicut was a major exporting city, it is most likely items produced by Calicut found their way into the Silk Road trade. Therefore, implying that manufacturing goods was commonly done within Calicut and therefore provided an increase in jobs and evidently more exports.
Calicut allowed for the stabilization of Southern India as it provided a steady income of revenue, as well as merchandise traded with other merchants. Calicut was a large port city however, many foreigners also came within the walls of the “City of Spices” for opportunities
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such as trade as well as money. However it can be inferred that the larger the population became the more trade within and around the city. As more merchants enter the city with merchandise, internal trade would take place between the people of Calicut and other foreigners. As more items reached into the city, trade with other areas most likely increased as the desire for products not found in the natural resources of the land amplified. Therefore also giving it the name the “City of Spices” as Calicut, during that time, remained to be one of the largest exporters of spices (cited in Calicut Heritage, 2009). Thus, Calicut did not only provide imperative means to Southern India, but, to the surrounding countries that trade.

Calicut was a small city within a large kingdom. However, achievements of the city were not proportional to its size. Calicut developed such a vital trading center to Southern India and became a powerful political organization which allowed for trade to prosper and the city to offer vital services to its citizens. This furthered the ability of the city to maintain stability. Lastly, the diverse culture that appeared as a result of trade allowed Calicut to be dubbed the "City of Spices" and provided Southern India with a stable, self-sufficient city from which the entire kingdom could benefit.

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Bentley, Jerry H., Ziegler, Herbert F. (2003). Traditions and Encounters. (pp.417-418). New York, NY.
India: History—Prehistory to 1947. (2010). Encyclopedia Americana. Retrieved March 20, 2010, from Grolier Online
Karan, P. P. (2010). India. (B. G. Gokhale, Rev.). The New Book of Knowledge. Retrieved March 20, 2010, from Grolier Online
Calicut Heritage Forum. (2009, June 6). Locating Calicut Port. In Calicut Heritage [Fact Sheet]. Retrieved March 23, 2010, from // locating-calicut-port-where-exactly-was.html