William Logan (author)

Scottish writer
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William Logan (1841–1914) was a Scottish officer of the Madras Civil Service under the British Government. Before his appointment as Collector of Malabar, he had served in the area for about twenty years in the capacity of Magistrate and Judge. He was conversant in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu. He is remembered for his 1887 guide to the Malabar District, popularly known as the Malabar Manual.



Malabar Manual (1887)

The book Malabar Manual discussing about systems and history of Malabar or currently known as Kerala.
  • The wild elephant is the most important animal of the district. Without his assistance, when domesticated, it would be difficult indeed to work the forests. Wherever you go in the forests you find numberless pitfalls excavated for his capture; but, as a rule, they are mostly old ones, half filled in. Numbers of .elephants are captured by Nayars and Mappillas, and broken in for timber dragging, winch is done entirely by the teeth ; the elephant seizing a thick cable made of grewia fibre in his trunk, and biting the end between his molars, drags the log, to which the other end of the cable has been made fast.
  • The Gramams are presided over by six Smarthas , who are presidents of the assemblies at which caste offences are tried. Such assemblies in former times required the sanction of the ruling chieftain, who, on representation made that a caste offence had been committed, issued orders to the local Smartha to hold an enquiry.
  • When a woman is suspected by her own kinsmen or by neighboring Brahmans of having been guilty of light conduct, she is under pain of ox-communication of all her kinsmen, placed under restraint. The maid-servant (Dasi or Vrshali), who is indispensable to every Nambutiri family, if not to every individual female thereof, is then interrogated, and if she should eliminate her mistress, the latter is forthwith segregated and a watch set upon her. When the family can find a suitable house for the purpose, the sadhanam (the thing of article or subject, as the suspected person is called) is removed to it; otherwise she is kept in the family house, the other members finding temporary accommodation elsewhere.
  • The most characteristic custom of tho Nayars is connected with their marriages. Every Nayar girl is married in one sense at a very early age. The tali is tied round her neck before she attains puberty, and it is considered to be disgraceful in her relations not to have this ceremony performed before that event takes place. The tying of tho tali is a great event in each household, and frequently several girls go through this ceremony simultaneously. When this can be managed it enables the family to make a greater display than they would probably be able to afford if there was a separate ceremony for each girl.
  • Sometimes a woman accepts tho favours of many lovers, but this is generally now-a-days scouted by all respectable people, and the fashion is daily becoming more and more prevalent for the woman to leave her ancestral home for that of the husband of her choice, although, as matter of law, the husband occupies no recognized legal relation involving rights and responsibilities in regard either to his wife or his children.
  • The younger cadets of Nambutiri families live with Nayar women merely reproduces in English the Malayali mode of describing the married life of these people and of the Nayars. It is part of the theory that the women they live with are not wives, that they may part at will, and that they may form now connections. This part of tho Malabar law has, in the hands of unenquiring commentators, brought much undeserved obloquy on the morality of tho people.
  • Two things are essential to the astrologer, namely, a bag of cowries and an almanac, When any one comes to consult him he quietly sits down, facing the sun, on a plank seat or mat, murmuring some mantrams or sacred verses, opens his bag of cowries and pours them on the floor. With his right hand he moves them slowly round and round, solemnly inciting meanwhile a stanza or two in praise of his guru or teacher and of his deity, invoking their help. He then stops and explains what, lie has been doing, at the same time taking a handful of cowries from the heap and placing them on one side. In front is a diagram drawn with chalk on tire floor and consisting of twelve compartments. Before commencing operations with the diagram he selects three or five of the cowries highest up in tho heap and places them in a line on the right-hand side. These represent Ganapati (the Belly God, the remover of difficulties), the sun, the planet Jupiter, Sarasvati (the Goddess of speech), and his own Guru or preceptor. To all of those the astrologor gives due obeisance, touching his ears and the ground three times with both hands. The cowries are next arranged in the compartments of tho diagram and are moved about from compartment to compartment by the astrologer, who quotes meanwhile tho authority on which ho makes such moves. Finally he explains the result, and ends with again worshipping the deified cowries who were witnessing the operation as spectators.
  • Like tho Pandava brothers, as they proudly point out, tho Kanisans used formerly to have one wife in common among several brothers, and this custom is still observed by some of them. Their custom of inheritance is consequently from father to son, and the son performs the funeral ceremonies. But in all other respects their marriage and death ceremonies seem to Have a Marumakkathayam origin.
  • In North Malabar the caste generally follows the Marumakkathayam system of inheritance, while in South Malabar tho descent of property is generally from father to son. Not unfrequently, however; two brothers, or more oven, marry one wife. If she have but one son tho child is fathered on the elder brother.
  • Tippu’s soldiers, therefore daily exposed the heads of many Brahmans in sight of the fort. It is asserted that the Zamorin, rather than witness such enormities (and to avoid further killing of innocent Brahmins), chose to abandon Palghautcherry (Palghat Fort).
    • (p. 500). [1] quoted from Ravi Varma, " Tipu Sultan: As Known In Kerala" in Tipu Sultan: Villain or hero? : an anthology. (1993).
  • But it was not only the Brahmans, who were thus put in a state of terror of forcible conversion, for, in this same month, a Raja of the Kshatriya family of Parappanad, also "Tichera Terupar (Trichera Thiruppad), a principal Nayar of Nelemboor (Nilamboor)” and many other persons, who had been carried off to Coimbatore, were circumcised and forced to eat beef. The Nayars in desperation, under those circumstances, rose on their oppressors in the south, and the Coorgs too joined in.
    • p. 449. also in Malabar Manual by William Logan (Printed and published by Charitram Publications under the editorship of Dr. C.K, Kareem, Trivandrum). Quoted in Ravi Varma, " TIPU SULTAN: AS KNOWN IN KERALA" in Tipu Sultan: Villain or hero? : an anthology. (1993). Also quoted in Ravi Varma, " Tipu Sultan: As Known In Kerala" in Tipu Sultan: Villain or hero? : an anthology. (1993).
  • It had been confirmed from Calicut that "200 Brahmans had been seized and confined, made Mussulmen, and forced to eat beef and other things contrary to their caste."
    • p. 449.. in : RAVI VARMA, TIPU SULTAN: AS KNOWN IN KERALA in Tipu Sultan: Villain or hero? : an anthology. (1993).
  • [Tipu sent a large Mysore army under the command of M. Lally and Mir Asrali Khan to chase and drive out the Zamorin prince from Calicut.] While these operations were in progress no less than 30,000 Brahmans with their families, it is said, fled from the country, assisted by Ravi Varma, and took refuge in Travancore.
    • (p. 508). [2] quoted from Ravi Varma, " Tipu Sultan: As Known In Kerala" in Tipu Sultan: Villain or hero? : an anthology. (1993).
  • It was at Kuttippuram, the head-quarters of the Kadattanad family, that this force surrounded 2,000 Nayars with their families in an old fort which they defended for several days. At last finding it untenable they submitted to Tippu’s terms which were “a voluntary profession of the Muhammadan faith, or a forcible conversion with deportation from their native land. The unhappy captives gave a forced assent, and on the next day the rite of circumcision was performed on all the males, every individual of both sexes being compelled to close the ceremony by eating beef.”
    • p. 451. also in part quoted in Ravi Varma, " Tipu Sultan: As Known In Kerala" in Tipu Sultan: Villain or hero? : an anthology. (1993).
  • It appears that circular orders for the conversion of the Hindus were issued to all the different detachments of his troops. The original of one of these orders found in the records of Palglmut fort, after its capture in 1790, ran as follows : — “It directed (all military detachments) that every being in the district, without distinction, should he honored with Islam, that the houses of such as fled to avoid that honor should be burned, that they should be traced to their lurking places, and that all means of truth and falsehood, fraud or force, should be employed to effect their universal conversion.”—
    • Circular/Order sent to various army contingents by Tipu, it was found among the records from Palghat Fort, after its capture by the English Company in 1790.
    • Malabar Manual quoting Wilks, Historical sketches.[3] Quoted in Ravi Varma, " Tipu Sultan: As Known In Kerala" in Tipu Sultan: Villain or hero? : an anthology. (1993).
  • He had it (the dead body of the prince) dragged by elephants through his camp and it was subsequently hung up on a tree along with seventeen of the followers of the prince who had been captured alive.
    • (p. 512). [4] quoted from Ravi Varma, " Tipu Sultan: As Known In Kerala" in Tipu Sultan: Villain or hero? : an anthology. (1993).

About William Logan

  • So far as the history of Malabar region is concerned, the most dependable book for basic historical facts is definitely the Malabar Manual written by William Logan. Serving in various administrative positions including that of a Collector for 20 years upto 1886, he had gone through and extensively researched a variety of documents for preparing his well-acclaimed book. The present edition has been scrutinized, edited and published by the reputed Muslim historian, Dr. C.K. Kareem, with the support of Cochin and Kerala universities. Therefore, the authenticity of its contents cannot be doubted.
    • V.M. KORATH, THE SWORD OF TIPU SULTAN in Tipu Sultan: Villain or hero? : an anthology. (1993).
  • According to the Malabar Manual of William Logan who was the District Collector for some time, Thrichambaram and Thalipparampu temples in Chirackal Taluqa, Thiruvangatu Temple (Brass Pagoda) in Tellicherry, and Ponmeri Temple near Badakara were all destroyed by Tipu Sultan. The Malabar Manual mention that the Maniyoor mosque was once a Hindu temple. The local belief is that it was converted to a mosque during the days of Tipu Sultan.
    • LATE P.C.N. RAJA, RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE OF TIPU SULTAN (This is the English translation of the Malayalam article by P.C.N. Raja first published in Kesari Annual of 1964. The late Raja was a senior member of the Zamorin Royal Family.) in Tipu Sultan: Villain or hero? : an anthology. (1993).
  • Now, let us turn to the facts of history, compiled and presented in Malabar Manual of William Logan published over a hundred years ago. William Logan was Collector of Malabar and worked in various capacities for over twenty years in Kerala, before 1886. The highly acclaimed Malabar Manual was the result of his strenuous research and study of various official records, oral history, and legends of Kerala.
    • RAVI VARMA, TIPU SULTAN: AS KNOWN IN KERALA,in Tipu Sultan: Villain or hero? : an anthology. (1993).
  • Fact being that the Malabar Manual was first published just eight years after the 1876-78 famine, the statement that post the 1727 famine there was no record of any famine in Malabar is more of a deliberate attempt on the part of Logan to conceal the truth.
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