People, places and particulars: a glossary
ACHARYA: character, a camel-driver, crucial to Book One.
ADDAI: also known as Thaddeus, who proselytized in the region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Tigris River valley.
AL DEWANIYA: fictional clan of vaguely Bedouin origin.
AMADOU: a third gender character, a shaman. Reflective of the nature of shamans in many societies.
AMCHI: the local name for shamans in Five Dragons Realm.
ATERI-PRAJAT: An isolated haven in the Northeast of Five Dragons Realm, along the border with the Great Desert, home to conjurers, acrobats, and human oddities.
AYAPPAN: and also Murugan, Meenakshi, Naga, local deities still revered in India.
BARTANGIS: cf. Kolis, Gypsies, etc., fictional nomadic group.
BOSLONIUS: fictional character, geographer to whom I have attributed the compiling of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
CHRIST: from kristos, the Greek term for "the risen one," or "the anointed one."
CHARAX: also Spasinou Charax, the name of the port established by Alexander where the Tigris and Euphrates empty into the Persian Gulf, now buried under silt.
CHERA: a dynasty ruling South India, established trade with Rome by 2nd century AD.
DALIT: a marginalized population, most shamefully classified as "untouchables," but who may have their origins in the remnants of defeated armies who sought shelter among nomadic wanderers.
DAMASCUS: one of the oldest extant cities. But I know of no evidence that an "Indian Quarter" ever existed in this venerable city.
DAMBATTA: a fictional people belonging to a fictional valley in South India.
DILMUN: modern day Bahrain.
EUNUCH: Letters to Cephas features several characters, only one of which is a castrated eunuch (Daria, in Book Two). The others are hermaphrodites or ambiguous regarding their gender.
FIVE DRAGONS REALM: An obscure kingdom north of the Himalayas, west of the Han Empire and east of Khwarezem, and lies on the northern Silk Road.
GUNDARPHA: also Gondophernes, Gundafar, hereditary title of kings who ruled the Saka Empire, in what is now northwestern India and Pakistan.
HARI: Shaman and teacher.
HOLI: Indian festival, held in spring, celebrating love and life.
INDRAPRASTHA: an honorary title bestowed on Thomas, perhaps the origin of the "Prester John" legends.
ILBIRS: a Buddhist monk who features prominently in the latter part of Book Three.
JAINS: the founder of Jainism, Mahavira, was a contemporary of Gautama Buddha. There were several movements aimed at reforming what we now know as "Hinduism," of which these two became the most prominent. Kundakunda Padmanandi (Book Two) was one of the greatest Jain theorists, and flourished about the time that Thoma was present in India.
KOLIS: a fictional tribe of wanderers, who form one clan in a confederation that became referred to as "Gypsies," a term derived from "Egyptian." After the publication of Book One, the author became aware of the existence of a small tribe in South India called the Koli. Any resemblance therefore is purely and coincidentally unintentional. The Roma language has many words of Indian origin, some characteristically South Indian.
LEOPARDS: a group of couriers and agents, masked behind false identities and anonymity, who on occasion work as hired assassins.
MADHU: A shaman, and along with her spouse Varman, an occasional companion of Thoma.
MALABAR: South India's southwestern coast, bounded by the ocean and the mountain range called the Western Ghats. Pepper, teak, sandal and many other spices and woods are indigenous to the Malabar Coast. Separated from the northern part of the subcontinent, it was not influenced heavily by the northern Persian, Tatar, Greek and other invasive cultures. At the time of Thoma's arrival, it was enjoying a golden era, most noted by the publication of the epic poem, Shillapadikaram, by the poet king Ilango Adigal (Prince Adigal actually lived some years after Thoma's arrival in India, but the Letters to Cephas narratives make them contemporaries). Malabaris were, and are, widely travelled -- there is a reference to two Malabari students in Germany around AD 700, and were certainly residents of port communities in China, Arabia and Africa. Communities of Jewish traders had been established in Malabar and elsewhere along the South Indian coast for generations before Thoma travelled there.
MALGUDI FOUNDATION: a fictional foundation established in R.K. Narayan's fictional Malgudi, wherein are stored the trove of copper-plate and palm-leaf documents that help build the narrative in Book Three.
MUCHIRIPATTNAM: also Muziris, ancient port in Malabar.
NAVARATRI: 9-day festival celebrating the avatars of Goddess Durga, which include Kali and Lakshmi.
PALLIVEEDU MATHEN: a historical figure in the establishment of the Christian Church in South India, but definitely not a contemporary of Thoma. The narrative places them in proximity only for the sake of the story. The towns mentioned in the final chapter of Book One are real, and where the Christian communities were first established.
POTHEN: scribe and companion of Thoma. Any resemblance to a historical figure named Bishop Pothinus is purely coincidental.
RUSSET DRAGON GATE: A secretive location in Five Dragons Realm, a storehouse for knowledge.
SUNDARPA: a tribal people inhabiting the steppes of Five Dragons Realm. Associated with Maynjian and Aymi'sji, part of a confederation with Hushangpa and Karimpa people to control Five Dragons Realm.
TAXILA: a historic city famed for its universities and centers of learning, and the court of King Gundarpha.
THOMA: also known as Doubting Thomas (the first scientist mentioned in the Bible?), Thomas the Twin, Thomas Didymus; and in Hebrew, as Yehuda, or Judas, brother of Jesus of Nazareth.
UJJAIN: also known as Ujjaini, another of the still-extant Indian cities that traces it founding to more than two thousand years ago as a religious center.
UMA: high priestess of the Dambattas.
VELIAPPAN PANNIKAR: Patriarch of a fictional trading family, crucial to Book One.
XANSHU: a variant of Sensei.
YESHUA: Jesus. The Letters to Cephas narratives refer to Jesus and his companions by their Hebrew names: Yohanan (John), Yaakov (James), Shimon (Simon), Miriam (Mary), Yosef (Joseph), Moise (Moses), and so on.