History Of Turmeric
The earliest reference about turmeric can be seen in Atharvaveda (6000 BC) in which turmeric is prescribed to charm away jaundice. It was also prescribe in the treatment of leprosy.
Reference to turmeric has also been made in Yajnavalkyasamhita (4000 BC) at the time of the epic Ramayana.
Turmeric was listed as a coloring plant in an Assyrian herbal dating about 2600 BC.
Marco Polo, in 1280 AD, mentioned turmeric as growing in the Fukien region of China.
Evidence indicate that turmeric was under cultivation India from ancient times, but whether the turmeric that they used was C. longa or some other species having yellow rhizome, is not known.
In 1879, Fluckiger and Hanbury wrote “several varieties of turmeric distinguished by the name of the countries or districts in which they are produced are found in the English market; although they represent differences that are sufficiently appreciable to the eye of the experience dealer, the characters of each sort are scarcely so marked or so constant as to be recognizable by mere verbal descriptions.”
In 1964 one writer states that “the distribution and uses of turmeric in domestic sites outside India, especially in Celebes, the Moluccas and Polynesia indicates their antiquity and suggests an early cultural connection between the people of these areas and the indigenous pre-Aryan cultivators of India....the indigenous use of turmeric in magical rites intended to produce fertility then became an important part of the established Hindu ceremony and as such was taken to the Hinduized Kingdoms of Southeast Asia.”
The used of Turmeric by Betsiko people of the Malagasy Republic suggests that the introduction was of Malayo-Polynesia origin.
There is a suggestion that turmeric reached East Africa in the eight century and West Africa in the 13th century: it is used in the latter area only as a dye. It was introduced into Jamaica by Edwards in 1783, where it has become naturalized.
It seems that the true turmeric (C. longa) came to India from the ancient regions of Cochin China or China either though the movement of the ancient tribal people during their migration to the Northeast region of India, or through the Buddhist monks and ancient travelers who reached India during the post-Buddha era.
To the ancient turmeric was not a spice but was a dye and a remedy for many ailments.
The travelers might have been carrying turmeric rhizomes as a remedy for two of the most common ailments that they were usually subjected to – wounds and stomach troubles.
It possibly might have been introduced into cooking for preservation food products and subsequently used to impart color to the dishes.
History Of Turmeric
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