Know the Etymology: 222
Place Name of the Day: Tuesday, 28 August 2012




The paddy fields irrigated by a system of ridges

The paddy fields of the dam

The paddy fields of the river Maavali Kangkai

Kangku Ridge to retain water in paddy fields, dam (Tamil, DED 1085); Limit, boundary (Tamil, Pu’ranaanoo’ru 396:25); Locality adjacent to a bank or bund (Tamil, Thivaakaram Lexicon 5:220, Pingkalam Lexicon 10:230); River Ganga (Tamil, Theavaaram 7:30:9)
Veali Paddy field in the context of place names (Tamil); Fence, hedge (Tamil, DED 5538, cognates found in Malayalam, Kota, Kannada, Kodagu, Tulu, Telugu, Kolami, Gondi and Konda); Limit, boundary, measure of cultivation land, agricultural tract, paddy field (Tamil, Changkam Diction); Village (Tamil, Pingkalam Lexicon); Wela: Paddy field (Sinhala). See columns on Achchu-veali and Bandarawela

The Kangkuveali village, its tank and the expanse of paddy fields having ridges [Satellite image courtesy: Google Earth, Legend by TamilNet]

Kangku-veali, normally written in English as Kankuveli, is a village having a tank and an expanse of paddy fields.

Veali means paddy field.

Kangku, in the context of the place name Kangku-veali, seems to be an agrarian technical term related to hydraulics.

The Dravidian Etymological Dictionary in its entry (No. 1085) for the Tamil word Kangku, gives the following meanings: ridge to retain water in the paddy fields, dam.

In the Changkam diction the word is found used in the meaning, limit (Pu’ranaanoo’ru, 396:25). Later literature of 11th century CE has used the word in the meaning of a barrier. But the lexicons Thivaakaram of 8th century CE and Pingkalam of 10th century CE are specific with the agrarian-hydraulics meaning that Kangku is land besides a cultivation field ridge/ balk/ bank/ bund (Varappu aruku).

The word Kangku is also found used in the meaning Ganga or river in old Tamil literature (Sundarar Theavaaram). Related to this stem there are some usages in Sinhala too, such as Gang-kanda (bank of a river), Gang-tera (bank or border of a river) and Gang-bada (border or edge of a river).

Kangku-veli village and the expanse of paddy fields are located roughly 4 km from the Maavali-kangkai (Mahaweli Ganga) River. But Kangku-veali paddy fields have their own tank for irrigation, with dams on three sides.

Of all the possible meanings for the toponym, the most appropriate one seems to be related to the system of ridges to retain water in the paddy fields.

In this connection, another Eezham Tamil place name Achchu-veali (Achchu: ridge in a field, DED 49) seems to be a synonym of Kangku-veali. See column on Achchu-veali.

* * *

Note the following usage examples of the word Kangku:

Kangku as field adjoining ridge/ balk/ bund/ bank:

“Kangku varampu arukea” (Thivaakara Nika’ndu 5:220)

“கங்கு வரம்பு அருகே” (திவாகர நிகண்டு 5:220)

Kangku is field adjacent to ridge/ balk/ bund/ bank

Kangku as millet as well as field adjoining ridge/ balk/ bund/ bank:

“Karunthinaiyum varampin arukum kangku enal” (Pingkala Nika’ndu 10:230)

“கருந்தினையும் வரம்பின் அருகும் கங்கு எனல்” (பிங்கல நிகண்டு 10:230)

Dark variety of the millet Panicum italicum and location adjacent to a bank/ bund/ ridge are called Kangku (note that in Sinhala too the millet is called Kangu or Kanggu)

Kangku as bank of a river:

“Akal vaan nathiyin kangkil po’ri viddathu” (Villi Paaratham 45:212)

“அகல் வான் நதியின் கங்கில் பொறி விட்டது” (வில்லி பாரதம் 45:212)

The line broke at the bank of the wide river

Kangku as dam or barrier of a waterbody:

“E’ri aazhiyai mun kangkea vakuththa kuloaththungka choazhan” (Oddakkooththar, Kuloaththungkan Koavai 481)

“எறி ஆழியை முன் கங்கே வகுத்த குலோத்துங்க சோழன்” (ஒட்டக்கூத்தர், குலோத்துங்கன் கோவை 481)

The Chozha king Kuloaththungkan who earlier fixed the waving sea at the boundary/ dam

Kangku as limit:

“Emmoar aakkak kangku’ndea” (Pu’ranaanoo’ru 396:25)

“எம்மோர் ஆக்கக் கங்குண்டே” (புறநானூறு 396:25)

Is there a limit for our prosperity?

Kangku as River Ganga

Kangku aarntha vaar chadaika’l udaiyaanai (Suntharar Theavaaram 7:30:9)

கங்கு ஆர்ந்த வார் சடைகள் உடையானை (சுந்தரர் தேவாரம் 7:30:9)

The one (Siva) who has hair locks from which Kangku (River Ganga) flows

* * *

The Tamil word Veali, which has an entry in the Dravidian Etymological Dictionary (5538), primarily means a fence or hedge. The word possibly originated from Veal for a spike, as hedges or enclosures of fields are usually thorny.

Deriving from the meaning enclosure, the word Veali was also used in Tamil to mean a measure of paddy field or a paddy field itself. Earliest usage examples could be found dating back to the times of the Changkam diction of the dawn of the Common Era. Later, the Tamil lexicons list the word as meaning a village too.

The Sinhala cognate of Veali is Wela and it is used widely in the Sinhala place names to mean a paddy field or an associated village.

See columns on Achchu-veali and Bandara-wela.

* * *

Note the following usage examples of the word Veali in the Changkam literature:

Veali as a measure of paddy field:

“Veali aayiram vi’laika nin vayalea” (Pu’ranaanoo’ru 391:21)

“வேலி ஆயிரம் விளைக நின் வயலே” (புறநானூறு 391:21)

Let your paddy fields produce a thousand measures per Veali of land

Veali as enclosure of paddy field, measure of paddy field and as the paddy field itself:

“Chaali nellin chi’raiko’l veali aayiram vi’laiyooddu aaka” (Porunaraattuppadai 246-247)

“சாலி நெல்லின் சிறைகொள் வேலி ஆயிரம் விளையூட்டு ஆக” (பொருநராற்றுப்படை 246-247)

Let the Veali that bounds the paddy crop, produce a thousand measure (here, Veali is enclosure, measure of land as well as the paddy field that produces).

* * *

Kangku-veali is an ancient village in the Moothoor division of Trincomalee district.

The village has the ruins of a historical Sivan temple and there are several other ruined sites located around the village. A literature, Thiruk Karaisaip Puraa’nam composed on the temple comes from medieval times. It was brought to print in 1890 by Akilesapillai of Trincomalee.

The location of Kangkuveali village and the stretch of paddy fields at the delta of Maavali Kangkai River [Satellite image courtesy: Google Earth, Legend by TamilNet]

First published: Tuesday, 28 August 2012, 19:28

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