Know the Etymology: 211
Place Name of the Day: Monday, 30 April 2012


Viyaapaari-moolai, Hetti-mulla

வியாபாரி மூலை
ஹெட்டி முல்ல

Viyāpāri mūlai
Heṭṭi mulla


Viyaapaari+Moolai
Heṭṭi+mulla


The merchant’s corner

Moolai Corner, intermediate point of compass (Tamil, Dravidian Etymological Dictionary 5044); Mulla:Corner, angle (Sinhala); Moola: Same as in Tamil (Malayalam, DED 5044); Corner, point of compass, direction (Telugu, DED 5044); Moole: Corner, point of compass (Kannada, DED 5044); Point of compass, direction (Tulu, DED 5044); Mul: Corner (Kota, a Dravidian language, DED 5044); Mullu: Corner (Koraga, a Dravidian language, DED 5044). Cognates are found in many other Dravidian languages too; Muli: Also Mulai, Mulla in island names: The corner point, promontory, headland, projection (Dhivehi/ Maldivian); Moola: Root, basis, foundation, cause, origin (Sanskrit/ Prakrits)
Viyaapaari Merchant, trader; Viyaapaaram: Trade (Tamil); Vyaapaara: Occupation, employment, business, profession, function (Sanskrit)
Heṭṭiyaa, Heṭṭi-raala A member of the Chetty (merchant) community man (Sinhala, H/S interchange); Cheddi: A male member of the merchant community or guild (Tamil, Chilappathikaaram 30:49); Eddi: A title bestowed on a merchant by the king (Old Tamil, Chilappathikaaram, 15:163); S’reshṭhin: Chief, a person of rank or authority, an eminent artisan, the head or chief of an association following the same trade or industry, the president or foreman of a guild (Sanskrit); Chireaddi: Cheddi (Tamil, Thivaakaram Lexicon; Prakrit); Seṭṭhi: A millionaire (Pali/ Prakrit); Sheṭṭi: A member of the merchant community (Tulu, Konkani, Kannada); Shēṭ: A member of the merchant community (North Indian languages)


Moolai in Tamil and Mulla in Sinhala are commonly found place name cognates of identical meaning.

They mean a corner, and as in the English usage of the word in the context of place names, they mean a region or an area of a place, like the toponyms Hyde Park Corner in London or Parry’s Corner in Chennai.

The Tamil word Moolai, meaning corner, is classified as a word of Dravidian origin by the Dravidian Etymological Dictionary, entry number 5044.

Cognates of the word, such as Moola, Moole, Mul and Mullu, meaning corner, are found in several Dravidian languages (see table).

In the Dhivehi language and in the island names of Maldives too, cognates such as Muli, Mulee, Mulai, Mulaa and Mulla, mean a corner or a point (see table and the examples below).

Sanskrit and Prakrits have a similar word Moola, but it doesn’t give the meaning, corner or angle. (See table)

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The word Viyaapaari, commonly used in Tamil to mean a trader, is of Indo-Aryan origins. Vyaapaara in Sanskrit means, occupation, employment, business, profession, function etc.

Viyaapaari is not found used in the early Tamil literature, but it comes in the Tamil inscriptions from c. 9th century onwards (Glossary of Tamil Inscriptions Vol I and II):

Viyaaparikka: To do trade (Tamil inscription 849 CE, Travancore Archaeological Series II p67-68).

Va’ndi ku’nanthangkaadiyilum mathilum viyaaparikkap pe’ruvar

வண்டி குணந்தங்காடியிலும் மதிலும் வியாபரிக்கப் பெறுவர்

Viyaapaaram: Buying and selling commodities (Tamil inscription, 864 CE, Madras Christian College Magazine VIII p98-104).

Ellaa viyaapaaramum kadai ea’ri vaa’nikam cheyya

எல்லா வியாபாரமும் கடை ஏறி வாணிகம் செய்ய

Viyaapaari: Merchant (Tamil inscription, 872 CE, South Indian Inscriptions XIII 18)

Karuppoor viyaapaari kaari thoaddam

கருப்பூர் வியாபாரி காரி தோட்டம்

Viyaapaarichchi: Female merchant (Tamil inscription, 1120 CE, Chenthamizh, XVII p314-15)

Raajaraajapuraththilirukkum viyaapaarichchi choalamaa’ni Thean nangkaikkuch chamainthu

ராஜராஜபுரத்திலிருக்கும் வியாபாரிச்சி சோலமாணி தேன் நங்கைக்குச் சமைந்து

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The Tamil word Chetti and the Sinhala word Hetti are cognates, meaning a man of the merchant community. CH/ S > H interchange is common between Tamil and Sinhala.

Both the words in Tamil and Sinhala are of Indo-Aryan origin, connected to S’reashthin in Sanskrit that originally meant a senior or a chief of a guild.

The Tamilized form Cheddi and another form Eddi were used in Tamil as early as from the times of Chilappathikaaram (early centuries of the CE). A Prakrit form Chireaddi is also found noted in the earliest Tamil lexicon Cheanthan Thivaakaram, dateable to c 9th century CE (see table).

In an early Tamil inscriptional usage of 1150 CE (Glossary of Tamil Inscriptions Vol I), the word Cheddi is used to mean one of the constituent bodies of an umbrella trade guild of the Chola times called, The Five Hundred (Ainnoottuvar).

The traditional Cheddi community of the Eezham Tamils in Jaffna were known as the Vea’laa’n-Cheddika’l. They were different from the Naadduk-koaddai or Nakaraththaar Chettika’l of Tamil Nadu.

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Viyaapaari-moolai is a locality in Paruththith-thu’rai (Point Pedro) town of the Vadamaraadchi North division of Jaffna district.

Hetti-mulla is a place in Divulapitiya division, Gampaha district. The place name is also found in Beruwala division of Kalutara district, and in Kegalle division of Kegalle district.

Note the context and usage of Moolai and Mulla in the following examples of place names in Tamil and Sinhala. The distribution of the component Mulla is largely found in the Sinhala place names of West and Northwest of the island and some of them were obviously Sinhalicization of Tamil place names.

* * *


Some other examples for the suffix Moolai in Eezham Tamil place names:

Moolaith-thoaddam: The garden in the corner; Mannaar Town division, Mannaar district

Kumpakar’nan-moolai: The corner named after the epic character Kumpakar’nan; Karaithu’raippattu division, Mullaiththeevu district

Maa-moolai: The big corner; Karaithu’raippattu division, Mullaiththeevu district

Alli-moolai: The lotus corner; Ninthavoor division, Ampaa’rai district

Kumpu’ru-moolai: The paddy-field corner; Koa’ra’laippattu division, Batticaloa district

Uthayan-moolai: The corner named after a person Uthayan; Ea’raavoor Pattu division, Batticaloa district

Vanthaa’ru-moolai: The corner of black-faced monkeys; Ea’raavoor Pattu division, Batticaloa district. See Vanduraa-mulla below.

Theangkaay-moolai: The coconut corner; Nalloor division, Jaffna dstrict

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Some examples for the suffix of Moolai in the place names of Tamil Nadu:

Koaddai-moolai: The Fort-side corner; Sivagangai, Tamil Nadu

Aava’ni-moolai-theru: The street of the corner named after the month Aava’ni; Madurai, Tamil Nadu

Kodimaraththu-moolai: The flag-mast corner; Thajavur, Tamil Nadu

Ka’l’lukkadai-moolai: The toddy-shop corner, Thiruvenney Nallur, Tamil Nadu

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Some examples of Malayalam place names in which Moolai turns into Moola:

Naimar-moola: The corner of Naimar; Kasaragod district, Kerala

Illam-moola: The house corner; Kannur district, Kerala

Vaidyar-moola: The physician’s corner; Edappal, Malapuram district, Kerala

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Some recently Sinhalicised place names with the suffix Mulla in the West and North-West of Sri Lanka:

Periya-mulla: Periya-moolai: The big corner; Negombo division, Gampaha district

Ambala-mulla: Ampala-moolai: The public-place corner; Katana division, Gampaha district

Andi-mulla: Aa’ndi-moolai: The hermit’s corner; Divulapitiya division, Gampaha district

Nariya-mulla: Nari-moolai: The side (corner) frequented by foxes; Divulapitiya division, Gampaha district

Sayakkara-mulla: Saayakkaarar-moolai: The dyers’ corner; Divulapitiya division, Gampaha district

Parappan-mulla: Parappaan-moolai: The flood-plains corner; Chilaapam division, Puththa’lam district

Mote-mulla: Moaddai-moolai: The pond-corner; Dankotuwa division, Puththa’lam district

Pila-katu-mulla: Pilak-kaaddu-moolai: The cultivation-field corner; Nattandiya div., Puththa’lam district

Ka’luwachchi-mulla: Kazhuvaaychchi-moolai: The corner to get grass sods; Dankotuwa division, Puththa’lam district. Kazhuvaay, Kazhup-pattai: The field to collect grass sods to feed cattle (Tamil). Also see the place name Kazhuvaagnchik-kudi (The settlement in the grass field) in Batticaloa

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Some place names of Mulla suffix in Sinhala, with prefixes of trees, geographical features etc that have been already explained in the previous columns: (Divisions and Districts are given in the brackets)

Hal-mulla (Kol., Col.); Mee-thota-mulla (Kol., Col.); Sala-mulla (Kol., Col.); Mee-gas-mulla (Kadu.,Col.); Jambu-gas-mulla (Maha., Col.); Battara-mulla (from Badara: jujube tree?; Kadu., Col.); Hora-gas-mulla (Divul., Gam.); Were-goda-mulla (Divul. Gam); Kele-piti-mulla Divul. Gam.); Ellala-mulla (Miri., Gam.); Kele-piti-mulla (Div., Gam.); Welle-vila-mulla (Miri., Gam.), Mede-mulla (Minu., Gam); Wathu-mulla (Min., Gam.); Ya-goda-mulla (Min., Gam.); Wel-kada-mulla (Wat., Gam.); Gal-thota-mulla (Gam., Gam.); Gane-mulla (Gam., Gam); Katu-wala-mulla (Gam., Gam.); Wal-gam-mulla (Att., Gam.); Para-kada-mulla (Dom., Gam.); Endera-mulla (Mahara, Gam.); Mala-mulla (Pa., Kal.), Palli-mulla (Pan., Kal.); Thanthiri-mulla (Pan., Kal.); Dodam-mulla (Kal., Kal); Kaduru-gas-mulla (Ber., Kal.); Pussala-mulla (Mathu., Kal.); Egoda-mulla (Poo., Kan.); Palle-mulla (Har., Kan.); Uda-mulla (Har., Kan.); Bulu-mulla (Yati., Kan.); Waraka-mulla (Ben., Gal.); Kos-mulla (Nel., Gal.); Madawala-mulla (4Gr., Ga.); Bokkara-mulla (4Gr., Ga.), Etamba-gas-mulla (Ak., Gal.); Jula-mulla (Ang., Ham.); Walas-mulla (We., Ham.); Yak-gas-mulla (Wee., Ham.); Ullala-mas-mulla (Kam., Mat.); Bandara-mulla (Weli., Mat.); Hena-mulla (Kuru., Kuru.); Mada-kumburu-mulla (Kuli., Kuru.); Kota-mulla (Ela., Rat.); Mugunu-mulla (Muguna-gas; Kotapola division, Matara district)

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Some other Sinhala place names having the suffix Mulla:

Pu’luna-gas-mulla: The corner of Silk Cotton trees; Padiyathalawa division, Ampaa’rai district. (Pu’lun: Silk Cotton; Pi’lun-imbul: Silk Cotton tree (Sinhala); Poolaa: Silk Cotton tree (Tamil)

Moratta-mulla: The corner of a species of cassia shrub or the corner of the plant Sanseviera zeylonica (Niyanda in Sinhala or Kurumpai in Tamil); Bibile division, Moneragala district

Webada-mulla: The corner to get bamboo soot (an edible vegetable); Mirigama division, Gampaha district

Hunu-mulla: The limestone-corner; Divulapitiya division, Gampaha district

]Bendiya-mulla: The bound corner or the enclosed corner, Gampaha division, Gampaha district

Liyanage-mulla: The corner named after a liyanage (a surname for a person coming from the household or family of clerks); Katana division, Gampaha district

Vithana-mulla: The village headman’s corner; Miniwangoda division, Gampaha district

Maharachchi-mulla: Mahaa-aaraachchi-mulla: The great chief’s corner; Alawwa division, Kurunegala district

Angurukara-mulla: The charcoal maker’s corner (Negombo division, Gampaha district)

Karanayaka-mulla: The business corner; Gampaha division, Gampaha district

Wadu-mulla: The carpentery-corner; Minuwangoda division, Gampaha district; Balapitiya division, Galle district

Weda-mulla: The physician’s corner; Kelaniya division, Gampaha district; Kotmale division, Nuwara Eliya District

Kuruppu-mulla: The Kuruppu’s corner; Panadura division, Kalutara district. Kuruppu is clan name in Sinhala, analogous to the same as a caste surname in Malayalam.

Bamunu-mulla: The Brahmin’s corner; Bandaragama division, Kalutara district

Bem-mulla: The building-corner; Attanagala division, Gampaha district. Bæmma: Building, structure (Sinhala)

Panni-mulla: The weaving corner or the handicraft corner; Neluwa division, Galle district. Pannam: Weaving, plaiting etc (Sinhala); Pinnu: (verb) To weave, knit, plait etc (Tamil, DED 4207)

Epita-mulla: The far-away corner; Bandaragama division, Kalutara district; Rattota division Matale district

Wandura-mulla: The corner of black monkeys; Attanagala division Gampaha district. Vanduraa: Generic name for black monkey (Sinhala). Four species are found in the island. Probably meaning ‘the bent one’, from, Bandhura: Bent, inclined (Sanskrit); Root Vanai; Vaangku: Bending, curving, inclining (Tamil, DED 5335); Vanthi: paying obeisance by bowing down (Tamil/ Sanskrit). Kurangku: a general name for monkey in Tamil is also of an analogous etymology in meaning, as the word as a verb means, to bend, incline etc (DED 1767, 1768)

Waka-mulla: The place (corner) frequented by cranes, or the corner of a tree of that name (Æschynomene grandiflora); Angunakola pelessa division, Hambantota district

Parapa-Mulla: Paraapa-mulla: The flood-plains corner; Mulatiyana division, Matara district. Paraapa: Place from which water has retired (Sinhala); Parappu: Expanse, expanse of water (Tamil, DED 3949)

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The forms, Muli, Mulee, Mulla, Mulaa and Mulai, found in the Maldivian island names:

Muli: (The island at) the corner or point; Mulaku Atoll, Maldives

Faru-muli: The corner of the reef; Miladhunmadulu South Atoll, Maldives

Mulee-huraa: The islet at the corner; Miladhunmadulu North Atoll, Maldives

Muli-dhoo: The island at the corner or point; Thiladhunmathi Atoll, Maldives

Muli-kede: The corner end: Addu Atoll, Maldives

Mulla-fushi: The island at the corner; Maalhosmadulu Atoll, Maldives

Mulai-dhoo: The island at the corner; Huvadhoo South atoll, Maldives

Voda-mulaa: The corner getting enlarged through accumulation of sand/ The corner of boats; Huvadhoo North Atoll, Maldives

Vom-muli: The corner point in the forefront/ The corner getting enlarged through accumulation of sand; Nilandhe South Atoll, Maldives

First published: Monday, 30 April 2012, 20:41

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