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Trade & Commerce in Chola Society

 Trade & Commerce in Chola Society

Chola society 

  • Four fold varna system was absent.
  • Brahmins had many privileges and were exempted from taxation and had control over religious and economics power.
  • Chola emperors linked themselves to solar and lunar dynasties and claimed Kshatriya status and called themselves as Brahmakshatriyas.
  • Trading communities claimed Vaishya Status and called themselves as Kamati, Vanijiya, Chettiar.
  • Rest of the society was divided into Sat Sudras (higher) and asat sudras (lower).
  • Sat sudras or higher sudras were consisting of classes like Kaikkolas who were weavers and collected taxes on behalf of temple and also Saliyas who were also weavers and prepared clothes for the royal family.
  • Vellalas who were the dominant peasantry also came under Sat Sudras.

Asat sudras (lower sudras) comprised of paraiyans and chaklians. Untouchability was prevalent in Chola Society.

Slavery was prevalent in Chola society and slaves were imported. The position of women was a mixed one with the queens called as devis and were respected and honoured, on the other hand the devadasi system prevailed and ganikas (prostitutes) also existed in the society.

  • The Chola society was marked by constant tensions between the Brahmins and Vellalas, between the higher castes and untouchables, between the Kaikkolas and Soliyas, between Velangai (right handers) and Idangai (left handers), between Mudali (land owners) and Adimai (slaves) and between Shaivites and Vaishnavites as is evident by the persecution of the Vaishnavite Ramanuja by Chola ruler Kulottunga I.

Trade and Commerce

  • Trade and commerce flourished under the patronage of Chola emperors. The Cholas developed links all over south India.
  • They then brought Srilanka, South — East Asia and even China under the network of trade. There are references to 72 nagarams and many trade guilds.
  • Most important of these were Manigramam, Ayyavolu-500 (Five hundred Lords of Aihole) also called as Ainnuruvar, Nanadesi, Vira Valanjiyar, Vira Balanju and Anjuvannan. Mahablipuram and Kaveripattanam, were important port centres.
  • Assemblies of nagarams were also known as nagarattars. Trading organisations formed fortified settlements called Erivirpattinams on trunk roads and were protected by army cantonments called Nilaippadai.
  • Mostly barter system was employed in trade and commerce where even paddy was used as a unit of exchange. Large scale exchanges of gold coins such as Pon, Kasu, Kalanju were used. Also, silver coins were used.

Some Chola emperors sent embassies to Indonesia, Cambodia and China. The temples in Chola period, apart from religious activity were also centres of development of arts and crafts.

Many stone cutters, weavers, potters, oil makers, bronze workers lived in temple complexes. Temples became centres of exchange of commodities.

Temples also collected taxes from craftsmen, traders and peasants. Temples received land donations form kings and offerings from religious followers. Trade & Commerce in Chola Society

Medieval History

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