The origin of Kodavas (Coorgs), a martial race inhabiting Karnataka’s picturesque hill district Kodagu, has always been shrouded in mystery. But when scientifically analysed their origin has come to one conclusion: They are not original inhabitants of India.
As the wave of humans swept past from west, it did have a pattern. Groups consisting of a race gradually moved, got absorbed and dissipated. However some groups which found an uncontested area to live, did get settled in those geographical boundaries, to retain unique identifiable racial charecteristics, like Kodavas. Kodavas or the Coorgs appear to have moved in male only or predominaently male configuration, from where ever they started. They might have taken females from around the Coorg geographical areas, which are mainly Dravidian, till a semblance of male to female ratio/balance was achieved. That is why there is a Mothertongue unique to Coorgs, which is a mix of then existing Dravidian tongues. However some experts in languages can filter some words and expressions which are not part of Dravidian language inputs, to zero on to the 'Father tongue' of Kodavas. Also, when we study the physical aspects of Kodavas, the anthrpology swings from caucatious to Dravidian !
“All available clues point to the strong possibility that the Coorgs came to India as part of the pre-Muslim forces of the Persian emperors or with the light troops of Alexander the Great, or as part of the troops during the time of pre-Christian Bactrian Greeks.”

 There is a great similarity between the Coorgs and pre-Muslim Kurds. Like the Coorgs, the kurds dwelt in mountain country for more than 2,000 years. Their dress, physical features, history in fighting various wars, bear a striking resemblance to Coorgs. However, after the Kurds embraced Islam, their cultural traits were overwhelmed by Islamic culture.

Stating that the Coorgs have no similarity to the Dravidian race, the book quotes Sir Erskine Perry who points out: “The Coorgs have no resemblance to any races of South India. By far they are the finest race I had seen in India in point of independent bearing, good looks and all outward signs of well-being.”
Coorgs are a different kind of people as compared to others in the country. They do not celebrate any of the Hindu festivals or follow their customs. Unlike other communities, Brahmins have no role in any of their ceremonies, be it marriage, death or festivals, the book says. Drawing a parallel between the character of Greeks and Coorgs, the book adds, “Like the Greeks, the Coorgs have an instinctive hatred for servility or sycophancy. A Coorg will never show more than the obligatory respect to a man in the higher orders of officialdom unless he positively respects that man.”

The Coorgs’ strong foundation of Greek culture indicates that they directly descended from the pre-Christian Greeks or were in close intercommunication with the Greeks. It is also likely that the Coorgs originally dwelt in the mountains of northern Iran, Taurus, Asia Minor or Caucausus and came to India as part of the fighting troops.
Their basic dress, ‘Kuppya’ and ‘Chele’, is suited to the cold climates and is similar to the attire in central Asia and Caucausus.

“Another possibility is that the Coorgs descended from pre-Muslim Kurds. There is no doubt that they were mercenaries in the Persian Army and probably in the armies of Alexander the Great Looking at the Kurds even today in Northern Iraq or Northern Iran, one is struck by their similarities in dress with the Coorgs."
But until a final conclusion is drawn, the debate will continue: Where did the Coorgs really come from?

Publication: The Times of India
Date: November 23, 1997
Author: Dr M. Gautham Machaiah


One Response so far.

  1. There is a place in Iraq called Muthanna, spelt exactly like this...go figure

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