This watercolour is sheet no.9 in a folio of Indian sketches
made in 1792-1794 by Lieutenant Thomas Marriott while serving as an officer in the Madras Army of the British East India Company.
Marriott’s reference to a ‘Pollum’ (also spelled poliam, palayam etc) in his caption for this sketch is a reference to a feudal system of fortified villages rules by a class of territorial, administrative and military governors (Poligars, Palegars, Poligers etc) appointed by the Nayaka rulers of southern India during the 16th-18th centuries. The Sivagiri (spelled by Marriott as Shivaghurry) palayam was one of the palayams of ancient Madurai, located on the leeward side of the Western Ghats in what is now the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Marriott’s ‘Comby’ is a reference to Kombai, a hill stockade of the Poligar of Sivagiri and his reference the Rajah’s defence of the ‘Shivighurry Pollum’ relates to a military expedition led by Lieut Colonel Hamilton Maxwell (1754-1794) in mid-1792 against Chinna Thambi Varuguna, the Poligar of Sivagiri, in response to Varuguna’s violent annexure of neighbouring palayams. [MM, September 2019]