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Kerala's Chinese Nets

in India
on: 22 November 2012

The Chinese Nets are one of the iconic images of Kochi. The ancient technology is said to have been passed down by traders who came to Kochi and transferred the knowledge to the locals. Some of these contraptions are fixed along the shore of Fort Kochi and on the opposite shore of Vypeen Island.

Even today, similar contraptions are found in mainland China, where they originated.

One of the highlights in the Fort Kochi area, the Santa Cruz Basilica was commissioned by Bishop Dom Gomez Vereira in 1887. It replaced the one built by the Portuguese in 1558, which was later destroyed by the British when they took over Kochi in 1795.

The sanctuary features colourful and luxurious Indo-Romano-Rococo style of decoration. The wooden roof has vivid coloured frames of art depicting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. On each pillar in the sanctuary, there are also smaller frames of art depicting the story of Jesus.

The Chinese Nets are the emblematic icons of Kochi, capital of the state of Kerala. They are located at the Fort Kochi area and are fixed installations on the sea shore. Based on the principles of counterweights on a set of cantilevers on opposite ends, balancing on a pivot at a wide V-shape angle, a team of fishermen lower down the suspended net into the waters below for a catch. After a few minutes, they pull down on the ropes fastened to the other end to lift the net up. This is done hundreds of times a day to accumulate the catch.

Various sources have conflicting theory on who had introduced the Chinese Nets to Kochi. Some thought it was the Chinese explorer, Admiral Zheng He. Others thought that traders from the court of Kublai Khan had the honour. Still recent research had argued convincingly that they were brought by Portuguese Casado settlers from Macau.

In any case, the locally known cheena vala have been in Kochi for centuries. It is probably the single most photographed icon of Kochi today.

Hello... I Am Josh

A Travel Writer & Photographer from South East Asia

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