Once upon a time, the town of Muziris was known to be the most sought-after trade centre famed for its magnificence, glamour and flamboyant commerce, where ships and vessels from across the globe came to the shores of erstwhile Kerala, seeking exotic spices, exquisite gems, silk, ivory and pottery.
If one digs deeper into the historical annals of the Sangam Literature, as many as 31 countries across Asia, Europe and Africa were actively engaged in a robust trade nexus with Muziris and nearby regions, dating all the way back to first century BC or even further beyond.
Embarking upon this very same journey, many millennia later, are the ambassadors of these 31 countries, who will step down in Kochi in June for a never before held expedition hosted by UNESCO in collaboration with the state government and Dutch Embassy.
“In a first-of-its-kind event, we will have representatives from 31 countries which had trade links with coastal Kerala. Archaeological evidence from excavations carried out in Muziris says Kerala had trade links with 31 nations in Europe, Africa and Asia. We also have historical monuments which reveal the influence of foreign architecture and culture in coastal Kerala,” said Nowshad PM, the Managing Director of the Muziris Project Limited, to The New Indian Express.
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The event, which will hold an extraordinary significance in terms of studying and reliving the fascinating history, trade and heritage from the bygone era for every culture associated with it, took form following a meeting convened between Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and UNESCO officials along with ambassadors of other countries, a couple of months ago.
Interestingly, the prominent association of the ancient Dutch traders with coastal Kerala during this period had paved the way for the present-day Dutch embassy to voluntarily extend its support to the event which is scheduled to be held between June 14-16.
According to Muziris Heritage Project consultant and architect Benny Kuriakose, the event would also rise as a pedestal for an exchange of cultural and historic knowledge.
“Take Kottapuram Fort. It was built by the Portuguese, which directly implies the Dutch influence. If you take Pattanam, it had links with Italy, Greece, China and the Mediterranean countries. In a manner similar to the influence of other countries on our heritage, we can also trace how our heritage influenced the nations that had trade links with us. Like research taking place here, research is carried out in those countries. It will be a perfect platform to trace roots of cultural exchange between the countries,” he added.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)