1341 AD is a significant year to recall as far as Kochi’s history is concerned. The centre of Indian spice trade for many centuries, and attracting travelers and traders from all over the world, Kochi rose to significance as a trading centre after the port around Kodungallur (Old Muziris) was destroyed by a massive flooding of river Periyar in 1341 AD. Greeks and Romans as well as Jews, Arabs, Portuguese, Dutch, and English made their ways to Kochi for trade and settlement since the year 1341 AD.
It is believed that the precursor state to Kingdom of Kochi came into existence in early 12th century after the fall of the Chera Kingdom. The reign of the Kingdom was hereditary, and the family that ruled over the region was known as the Perumpadappu Swaroopam the local vernacular. The mainland Kochi remained the capital of the princely state since the 18th century. The King of Kochi only had authority over the region encompassing the present city of Kochi and adjoining areas. However, during much of this time, the kingdom was under foreign suzerainty, and the King often only had titular privileges.
In 1500 AD, the first European settlement in India was founded in Kochi by Portuguese navigator, Pedro Álvares Cabral. Kochi hosted the grave of Vasco da Gama, the first European explorer to set sail for India. The Portuguese rule was followed by the Dutch and later the English. The Maharaja of Kochi, who ruled under the British, initiated local administration by forming town councils in Mattanchery and Eranakulam in 1896. In 1925, Kochi legislative assembly was constituted due to public pressure on the state.
Towards the early 20th century, trade at the port had increased substantially, and the need to develop the port was greatly felt. Consequently, harbour engineer Robert Bristow was brought to Kochi in 1920 under the direction of Lord Willington, then the Governor of Madras. In a span of 21 years, he transformed Kochi as one of the safest harbours in the peninsula, where ships berthed alongside the newly reclaimed inner harbour equipped with a long array of steam cranes.
In 1947, when India gained independence from the British colonial rule, Kochi was the first princely state to join the Indian Union willingly.
1341 AD is a tribute show to pay salute to the ever lasting diverse and secular life of Kochi from time immemorial! The artists who participate in the 1341 AD are of Kerala origin, but they represent the diverse contemporary visual art practices of India.
Reji K P,
Rimzon N N,