About the book
Bringing the people’s visions onto the usual sights on the roads, ‘Textures of Mattancherry’ is a photo journal by Ramees Raja, with a genuine effort to reveal the unseen language written on each wall and corners of Mattancherry. This is not a book that tells an unheard fairytale but is a guide that helps people to unlock the missed sights of their own eyes. These 150 pages walk into the locked patterns, textures, and colors amazingly blended with history, culture, and art where every memory wins over the busy running time.
The journal does not portray the pictures of some lifeless pieces, rather it aims to highlight how the live ones turned into lifeless colors to finish up the art that played in the back. And how the carves and curves in the lifeless sculptures and statues gained life to bring the people to question their emotions to nurture a new hope of thought which was often dead at times. While every mind here searches for his pattern to form, he eventually becomes a part of the whole pattern itself, which is the Mattancherry. And what still makes people run back to their usual streets is when they wish, “Maybe the time has never passed, and the way is never too old.”
The book showcases the glimpses of Mattancherry, its streets, people, culture, history, and emotions. I believe that these photographs of sights have merged to form beautiful textures and patterns to the place with its uniqueness which can not be found elsewhere. The story of this unique land told through pictures, down the memory lane, is what is hoped upon to be given to you.
"The book speaks about the tales of lives blending onto the textures, and textures reciting poems of the glorious town Mattancherry."
Mattancherry is the western part of Kochi, the queen of the Arabian sea. For long periods this western part was regarded Kochi itself, and the rest included Ernakulam. But now Kochi has broadened its boundaries, while that left an opportunity for the evolution of a unique identity to Mattancherry. The name of Mattancherry was formed from 'Anchery Mattam’ (an earlier name for the abode of Namboothiris) to 'Mattancherry’. Invaders from across different parts of the world left remarkable impressions on the landscape, culture, art, and history of the place.
Mattancherry is a hospitable home to every migrant community like Jews, Konkani, Gujarati, Jains, and Marathi. The buildings of the colonial era co-exist here with churches, agraharams, mosques, and Jewish synagogues. Varied cultures and ethnic identities add up to the distinctiveness of the place.
Mattancherry gained prominence in 1341 after a flood in the river Periyar blocked the port at Kodungalloor, 25 kilometers north of Ernakulam, which led to the opening up of a natural port at Kochi Lake. Later on, it turned into a trade center, especially in spices, after the merchants of Kodungalloor, shifted their business to the new port. Mattancherry has a Jain temple, the Hanafi mosque of the Memons, Paradesi Synagogue of Jews, Tamil’s Dhobi Khana, Portuguese-buildings, godowns, warehouses, and the spice shops.
About 16 languages apart from Malayalam are being spoken at Mattancherry and Fort Kochi. It is the only place in India where three European colonial powers have ruled. Mattancherry is now left with only five Jewish families to retain the traditions and worship at the Paradesi Synagogue build in 1567. Many of the historical buildings may fade into history when their present inhabitants leave. Most of them are taken over by the tourism industry.
About the author
Ramees Raja is a native of Kochi who started his career in photography from the year 2008. He always wanted to communicate the connection between the natural world and the human world through photo stories. He has journeyed through distinct locations and places, from urban streets to thick wild forests for capturing stories with an essence of life.
His photographs were published in Society magazine (Gulf Times, Qatar), HVK Yearly Calendar (India), Daily Mail, and Telegraph. Ramees won 3rd position in the Sony WPO World Photography Awards for the Indian National Awards category in 2015. His award-winning photograph was the 50th most commented photograph in Sony World Photography Awards 2015 in the wildlife category. He also got shortlisted for the wildlife category in the Sony WPO World Photography Awards 2013.
He has a professional career in creative designing for the last 13 years, and he always made sure to incorporate his creative designing skills and self-made photography skills to leave a mark of his own to his works.
In his first attempt to a photojournal, Ramees pays a tribute to his hometown Kochi through his book Textures of Mattancherry - Jew Town, which is the first step to a series of books planning to narrate the stories of life in Kochi.