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Calicut, India

CALICUT, port on Malabar Coast, W. India. Shaliat and Flandrina, both close to Calicut, are mentioned by Muslim and Christian geographers of the 12th and 13th centuries as having Jewish settlements. With the coming of the Portuguese to India, travelers such as G. Sernigi (1499) refer to the Jewish association with Calicut. L. di Varthema (early 16th century) mentions a Jew in Calicut who had built a fine galley and had made four iron mortars. Abraham *Farissol in his Iggeret Orḥot Olam (completed in 1524; printed Venice, 1587) alluded to the presence of Jews in Calicut and the neighboring islands. While the Portuguese historian Correa speaks in 1536 of the great number of Jews in Calicut, the Yemenite traveler Zechariah b. Saadiah (16th century) looked in vain for coreligionists there. Half a century later Pyrard de Laval lists Jews among the various religious groups in Calicut with their own quarter and synagogue. The outstanding Calicut Jew in the 18th century was Isaac *Surgun (d. 1792), a wealthy merchant who hailed from Constantinople.


Fischel, in: REJ, 126 (1967), 27–53. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: J.B. Segal, A History of the Jews of Cochin (1993).

[Walter Joseph Fischel]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.