Paliam Nalukettu Museum 

Paliam Nalukettu's are the traditional homesteads (tharavads) where several generations of a matrilineal joint family lived together. Nalukettu consists of a main house along with a few satellite houses. Portico, Inner Hall, Kitchen and four blocks - Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western - constitute the different parts of a traditional Nalukettu. The design and construction pattern are closely linked to the life cycle of women in the family, their rituals, beliefs and celebrations. Nalukettu was occupied by the women of Paliam Noble family who followed matrilineal system. This structure is also an epitome of the traditional housing architecture of Kerala. Nalukettu museum presents to the visitor, the architectural model of Nalukettu and various social-cultural and economic practices from the feudal era.

This classical structure was built by the elder member of the family in the year 1786, for the women and minor boys of Paliam. It has a big courtyard at the centre with rooms surrounding it and Purathalam, where the members gathered to chat and for recreational activities. There used to be a common dining hall and a common kitchen as all the members lived and dined together, under the protection of Valiachan. The boys, when they became majors, had separate bachelor living quarters and after their marriage, the administration provided them houses. This style of 'community living' continued till the partition of the joint family. The last members left the Nalukettu after the family partition deed, and so the building is no longer occupied.

The Matriarchal Legacy

Matrilineal system followed an inheritance system through mothers. Like Kochi royal family, Paliam family too followed matrilineal system. The Karanavar [head of the family) was called Valiyachan. The inheritance rights went to the nephew (sister's son). Valiyachan held the status of being the manager of the family. Unlike other Nalukettus' where male were in charge of household administration, in Paliam the control of the Nalukettu rested with valiyamma.

Architectural Features

The Nalukettu is a typical self-contained Malayali house, a quadrangle building consisting of four blocks, with a rectangular courtyard in the centre known as the "nadumittam". The western block or "padinjattini" is divided into three rooms the middle one of which is the private strong room or "ara" where all the valuables and house hold deities are kept. The north east block or "vadakkini" is divided into two parts, the kitchen and the dining room. The other rooms in the north quarter houses general rooms. The whole or the middle portions of the eastern and southern blocks"kizhakkini and tekkini" are open halls where guests are received; the same on the upper floors consist of bedrooms for the women, where they are met by their husbands occasionally in the night.


The main exhibits here include seasonal display in the hall, kitchen, vessels gallery and an exclusive collection of lamps.

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