was an idea from Chennai's noted historian S. Muthiah, more
than a decade ago, that culminated in the publication of this
The Chettiar Heritage.
The book has been authored by S. Muthiah, Meenakshi Meyappan
(of the Spastics Society of Tamil Nadu) and Visalakshi
Ramaswamy (involved with Dakshin Chitra).
Muthiah, "This book is the story of the Chettiars as
a community and not as individuals. It traces their influence
on regions; right from Mauritius to Vietnam". The 13
chapters of the book cover the history, rituals, architecture,
clan temples (or the nagara koils), festivals, artefacts,
food and the people of the Chettiar community. This book, of
the Chettiars and by the Chettiars, makes for a beautiful coffee
table read, though it is priced on the expensive side (Rs.3,000/-
). Of special interest is attention given to the jewellery;
for instance, the traditional thali (sacred thread tied
at Hindu wedding). Also featured are the palatial mansions in
the 76 villages of Chettinad, which were erected from the 19th
century onward. The photographs of the interiors and exteriors
of Chettinad houses are a visual treat to behold. This 288 page
book has over 800 photographs in colour.
of the photographs in the book (about 90%) have been shot by
Muthuraman, over a period of more than three years.
" We chose Muthuraman because he is a Chettiar and with this
inside knowledge of the community he would be able to deliver
the goods without us having to be behind him, as the case would
have been if we had to get a photographer from Delhi or any
other place. And we just did not have the time for it"said
S. Muthiah on the choice of the photographer.
Author - Joseph Pradeep Raj R