Hindu-Muslim-Jewish Origin Legends in Circulation
between the Malabar Coast and the Mediterranean, 1400s–1800s

Indian Ocean history tends to focus on material exchange and to rely primarily on European records and foreign travel accounts. In contrast, this project seeks to foreground the circulation of ideas, concepts, and values by relying on sources produced by and for local communities, with the coastal communities of southwestern India (Malabar Coast) as the case study. To do so, we explore origin legends of Hindu, Muslim, and Jewish communities along the Malabar Coast, analysing selected tellings of these legends for identifying patterns of inter- and intra-religious demarcation. We use literary, linguistic, and content analysis for a study of cross-communal relations and transregional contacts during a period of significant transformations in global trade and geopolitics. Juxtaposing our findings against the European interventions in the region, our analysis targets the emergence of new types of networks between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean and the role of religion therein.