11. Stone pedestal of a free-standing cross near Kottayam
Date unknown: circa 1599, but possibly based
on pre-Portuguese models
Ricci 11 KP Ricci Inst 026
On the pedestal is a winged figure carved at the base of the cross itself, and the notice is in Malayalam, the local language of Kerala. The pedestal has a carving of a fish and a lotus petal design. It is of considerable interest that lotus petals appear on the plinths of these monumental crosses, as the lotus symbol appears to link the two Christian communities that sprang up in India and China along the maritime trade routes during the 13th and 14th centuries.
The stone crosses of Kerala have received little scholarly attention and are still hardly known outside of southern India. In spite of the fact that some of them are probably pre-Portuguese, no detailed archaeological report of the crosses or the churches of Kerala has been made. Kerala is a rapidly developing state, and there is already evidence that some of the buildings are suffering damage. There is a distinct danger that much of the archaeological evidence relating to the ancient Christian communities in southern India will be lost, as neither the Archaeological Survey of India nor UNESCO are taking an interest in their conservation.