The inhabitants of the littoral regions – Paradavar – were fishermen. Their society evolved into seafarers and maritime traders, and latter day conquerors and empire builders.
Their primary produce was fish, sea-shells and salt, which they hauled and traded – bartered – with the people further inland for milk and ghee, stone tools and, in later years, metal implements. The Paradavar sold jewellery made from coral and sea-shells and fish oil for lamps. Salt was a prime commodity in barter trade with the inland peoples.
The exchange of goods led to the Paradavar becoming the first organised society of merchants.
From fishing by the beach, the more adventurous clans moved further offshore. The first boats were a little more than logs lashed together. Settlements along the river banks built circular wickerwork baskets covered in hide. These wicker baskets were common river crossing transports right into the late 20th century.
The people graduated from building coastal craft to sea-going vessels. The seas were a natural extension to the Paradavar’s mercantile activities.
These sailor merchants engaged in trade, travelling as far as the Arabian Peninsula and in later centuries even to Rome in the west. They travelled east to China and had a great impact on the archipelagos of South East Asia where the Paradavar established the first Hindu empires.
*** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2018 ***
(Note: Treat these posts on Ancient Indian history as highly simplified introductions to a complex, often conflicting, and vague period mired in the mists of antiquity.)
Join me next Friday when I touch on the ancient (B.C.E.) Tamils of the last tinai, the Marudam (agricultural) Regions.