B 15

The custom of slavery was rampant in Travancore. There were not many legislations to stop this. Even the Divans of the Travancore kingdom were not helpful in implementing the abolition of slavery act proposed by the British Residents. Based on the British Parliamentary debate, Act V of 1843 was passed, thereby legally abolishing slavery in the Madras presidency, which was part of British India. During that time, Kerala was divided into three administrative units: the British Malabar in the northern part and the two princely states of Cochin and Travancore in the central and southern parts. Slavery was abolished in British Malabar in 1843, but it continued in the princely states of Travancore and Cochin, as we have seen earlier. It was with the consistent and persistent efforts of the missionaries that slavery was finally abolished in the princely states. Slavery was finally abolished in 1855, based on a memorandum signed by 13 Protestant missionaries (5 CMS and 8 LMS) on March 19, 1847. However, the missionaries continued to work towards freeing the slaves, sometimes even buying them from slave markets and setting them free. Rev. J. Hawksworth is an important missionary who converted slaves to Christianity in Mallappally in 1854. Rev. Norton, Rev. Peet, Rev. George Mathan, and Rev. Hawksworth did everything they could to establish educational institutions for slaves and lower castes in Travancore. They faced resistance from upper-caste Hindus and Syrian Christians.

In this relief panel, artist Pramod Gopalakrishnan narrates the story of slavery in succinct visual terms. The pictorial plane is divided into three. On the extreme right of the panel, one can see the slaves waiting to be auctioned off. The central portion of the panel depicts the slave-owning feudal lord with his servant holding an umbrella for him. The arrogance of the lord and the shameless subordination of the servant are visible in their portrayal. On the extreme left of the panel, one can see a missionary buying a slave and setting him free, defying the evil custom of the land.

Published On: January 27th, 2024Categories: Relief Sculpture

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