Kozhikode also called CALICUT, city, northern Kerala state, southwestern India. Calicut was once-famous cotton-weaving centre, it is remembered as the place of origin of calico, to which it gave its name (i.e., Calicut).
The place was an early focus for Arab traders, who first settled there in the 7th century. Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese discoverer of the sea route to India, reached Kozhikode in 1498. The Portuguese built a fortified trading post there in 1511, but it was abandoned in 1525.
An English expedition visited Kozhikode in 1615, but not until 1664 did the British East India Company found a trading post there. The French followed in 1698 and the Danes in 1752. Hyder Ali, the 18th-century Indian ruler and military commander of Mysore (now Karnataka), captured the town in 1765 and destroyed it. In 1790 the British occupied Kozhikode, and it passed into their hands by treaty in 1792, when the inhabitants returned and rebuilt the city.
Kozhikode’s port is virtually closed during the monsoon season, and ships must lie 3 miles (5 km) offshore at other seasons. Besides coconut products, the city exports pepper, ginger, coffee, tea, and other crops. Its industries include sawmills and tile-making, coffee-curing, and hosiery works. Kozhikode is the seat of Calicut University (1968), which includes colleges of arts and sciences, medical and teacher-training colleges, and a marine-research institute. Pop. (1991 prelim.) city, 419,531; metropolitan area, 800,913.
All-cotton fabric woven in plain, or tabby, weave and printed with simple designs in one or more colours. Calico originated in Calicut, India, by the 11th century, if not earlier, and in the 17th and 18th centuries calicoes were an important commodity traded between India and Europe.
In the 12th century, Hemacandra, an Indian writer, mentions chhimpa, or calico prints, decorated with chhapanti, or a printed lotus design.
The earliest fragments to survive (15th century) have been found not in India but at Fustat, in the neighbourhood of Cairo. The examples, resist-dyed (in which parts of the fabric to be left undyed are covered with a substance that resists the dye) and block-printed, are of Gujarati manufacture. In the Mughal period the chief centres of calico printing were in Gujarat, Rajasthan, and in Burhanpur, in the Khandesh region of Madhya Pradesh. Ahmadabad, another centre, specialized in cheaper printed cottons.
In the export trade, patterns pleasing to foreign taste were used, but for home consumption simpler designs, consisting of small flowers and pinecone, diaper (allover), and geometrical patterns, were most popular. Gold tinseling was sometimes used to enhance the sumptuousness of the material. Printed calicoes were generally used for hangings and bedcovers, as well as for dresses in England, but in India the material was generally used only for garments. Saris, the most common article of the Indian woman’s dress, were almost always printed.
In calico weaving, one set of warp threads is woven one-over and one-under with one set of weft threads. Calico fabrics are usually woven in the gray state–i.e., in the natural colour of the raw cotton staple.
A considerable amount of calico is bleached, dyed, and printed for every conceivable household use and for articles of clothing. Generally, calicoes are in two colours, one for the ground and the other for the figure or design. The ground colour is usually piece-dyed in some solid colour and the design printed on the cloth later by means of a revolving cylinder on which the design has been stamped or cut out. Calico fabrics include an infinite variety of textures and qualities according to the different uses for which they are intended, ranging from fairly fine and sheer to those of coarser and stronger textures.
The first voyage
Da Gama sailed from Lisbon on July 8, 1497, with a fleet of four vessels–two medium-sized three-masted sailing ships, each of about 120 tons, named the “São Gabriel” and the “São Rafael”; a 50-ton caravel, named the “Berrio”; and a 200-ton storeship.
They were accompanied to the Cape Verde Islands by another ship commanded by Bartolomeu Dias, the Portuguese navigator who had discovered the Cape of Good Hope a few years earlier and who was en route to the West African castle of São Jorge da Mina on the Gold Coast (now Ghana). With da Gama’s fleet went three interpreters–two Arabic speakers and one who spoke several Bantu dialects. The fleet also carried padrões (stone pillars) to set up as marks of discovery and overlordship.
Passing the Canary Islands on July 15, the fleet reached the São Tiago in the Cape Verde Islands on the 26th, remaining there until August 3. Then, to avoid the currents of the Gulf of Guinea, da Gama took a circular course through the South Atlantic to the Cape of Good Hope, reaching Santa Helena Bay (in modern South Africa) on November 7.
The expedition departed on November 16, but unfavourable winds delayed their rounding of the Cape of Good Hope until November 22. Three days later da Gama anchored in Mossel Bay, erected a padrão on an island, and ordered the storeship to be broken up. Sailing again on December 8, the fleet reached the coast of Natal on Christmas Day. On Jan. 11, 1498, it anchored for five days near the mouth of a small river between Natal and Mozambique, which they called the Rio do Cobre (Copper River).
On January 25, in what is now Mozambique, they reached the Quelimane River, which they called the Rio dos Bons Sinais (the River of Good Omens), and erected another padrão. By this time many of the crews were sick with scurvy; the expedition rested a month while the ships were repaired.
On March 2 the fleet reached the island of Mozambique, the inhabitants of which believed the Portuguese to be Muslims like themselves. Da Gama learned that they traded with Arab merchants and that four Arab vessels laden with gold, jewels, silver, and spices were then in port; he was also told that Prester John, the long-sought Christian ruler, lived in the interior but held many coastal cities. The Sultan of Mozambique supplied da Gama with two pilots, one of whom deserted when he discovered that the Portuguese were Christians.
The expedition reached Mombasa (now in Kenya) on April 7 and dropped anchor at Malindi (also now in Kenya) on April 14, where a pilot who knew the route to Calicut, on the southwest coast of India, was taken aboard. After a 23-day run across the Indian Ocean, the Ghats Mountains of India were sighted, and Calicut was reached on May 20. There da Gama erected a padrão to prove he had reached India. Welcomed by the Zamorin,