From Calicut to China, a 700-year-old tale
KOCHI: During the time when the Yuan dynasty was ruling China, a Malayali family from Kozhikode crossed the seas and settled in the Land of the Red Dragon. Over 700 years later another Malayali, Joe Thomas Karackattu, who was doing research on the Indo-China relations during the pre-colonial times and the historical and cultural exchanges that took place at the time, stumbled upon this story. He decided to trace the descendants of this family. ‘Guli’s Children’, a documentary written, shot and edited by Joe Thomas, tells the story of this search. The film was premiered at a function held at Malabar Christian College in Kozhikode on Wednesday.
科钦：元朝统治中国时，一个来自科泽科德的马拉雅力（Malayali，说马拉雅拉姆语的人）家族，飘扬过海定居在红色中国龙的土地上。700年后，另一位马拉雅力人，研究前殖民时期印中关系，以及研究当时两国历史和文化交流的印度学者，乔·托马斯·卡拉乔(Joe Thomas Karackattu)，偶然发现了这个故事。他决定寻找这个家庭的后代。《古力的后代》，托马斯撰写、拍摄并编辑的纪录片，讲述了这一追寻故事。4月20日，这部影片在科泽科德的马拉巴尔教会学院举行首次公演。
Thomas, an assistant professor at IIT Madras, was trying to bring out the cultural and historical linkages by locating physical artefacts that connect Kerala with China. “It was during the research on the subject that I came across accounts of this family that moved from Calicut to China during the Yuan dynasty, which got me intrigued. So, along with the physical artefacts that show the Chinese connection, I decided to a search for this family,” he said. Guli in Chinese refers to Calicut and hence the title Guli’s Children.
“Several people had varying accounts on where they were based. So the real challenge was to locate them. The research took me nearly 20,000 kilometres across India and China–from the east to the north to the south of China. The story would be told through an academic paper as well, but the visual dimension to such a search gave me the motivation to capture it on film in the first instance,” said Thomas.
“The thrill of meeting the descendants of a Malayali who had moved to China over 700 years ago was incomparable. I hope that the documentary will open up the way we look at Indo-Chinese relations,”he added. “Cultural interaction with Southern India and China, peaked between the 12th and 15th century. There are historical accounts that refer to connections with Kerala, chiefly Calicut, Cochin and Quilon in Chinese works like Yingyai Shenglan by Ma Huan, Xingcha Shenglan by Fei Xin and Ming Shilu,” he said. “I feel we are stuck in a time-warp or a paradigm warp, when it comes to looking at China. That paradigmatic optic needs to change.”
“看到700多年前迁往中国的马拉雅力人后代的激动，是无与伦比的。我希望这部纪录片能打开我们看待印中关系的方法。12世纪到15世纪，印度南部和中国之间的文化交流达到了顶峰。 文史资料有提到喀拉拉邦，提到卡利卡特和科钦，提到奎隆的有，Ma Huan撰写的《Yingyai Shenglan》，Fei Xin和Ming Shilu的《Xingcha Shenglan》。”
Thomas, who was born and brought up in Delhi, studied at St Stephen’s College and JNU and was a Fox Fellow at Yale University.
Of course , Malayali have also setup chaya kadda (tea shop) on Moon long ago. Ask any Mallayali and they will tell you its true. This China story is nothing in comparision.