Know the Etymology: 224
Place Name of the Day: Tuesday, 18 September 2012


Pamu'nu-gama, Aava'nam


Pamuṇugama, Āvaṇam

Pamu'nu+gama
Aava'nam


The village in an endowment land or assigned land of hereditary right

The business place of stalls and services, or the place assigned by a deed


Pamu地u Belonging (Sinhala, Clough); Pamu地u-kota: Assigned to (Sinhala, Clough); Pamu地u: An estate possessed in perpetuity by a family in hereditary succession or by an institution like a monastery or a hospital (Sinhala, inscriptions, University of Ceylon History of Ceylon, 1, 1:375); Pamaa地a: Quantity, law, authority, measure, limit, boundary (Sinhala); Pramaa地a: Measure of any kind, principal, capital, authority (Sanskrit); Piramaa地am: Decided extent of land to be assigned (Tamil, inscriptions, SII, iv, 223)
Aava地am Market, bazaar, street, right to property, ownership, slavery, bondage, service, bond, deed (Tamil, Changkam diction, old lexicons, MTL); Awunu: Place where fish is sold, meat market (Sinhala); Aapa地a: Market, shop, commerce, trade (Sanskrit)


The word Pamu地u, in the context of Sinhala place names, means a defined extent of land that was endowed for hereditary possession of a family, of a people, or of institutions such as a monastery, hospital etc.

Pamu地u generally means belongingness in Sinhala and there is a related phrase Pamu地u-kota that means something that is assigned to.

The toponymical meaning of Pamu地u, i.e., an assigned-land, could be seen in a number of Sinhala inscriptions related to land endowments (University of Ceylon History of Ceylon, 1, 1: 375).

Another related word Pamaa地a in Sinhala means a quantity, authority, limit, boundary etc.

Both the Sinhala words, Pamu地u and Pamaa地a, derived from Pramaa地a of Sanskrit, meaning measure of any kind, authority etc.

Tamil inscriptions show that the Tamilized form Piramaa地am was also used in a sense similar to Pamu地u, to mean a defined land-assignment.


適u地ameanakaipuram en池ea池ina nakaraththukku piramaa地appadi ko地da nilan (1036 CE, South Indian Inscriptions, iv, 223)

குணமே நகைபுரம் என்றேறின நகரத்துக்கு பிரமாணப்படி கொண்ட நிலன் (1036 CE, South Indian Inscriptions, iv, 223)

The land acquired according to Piramaa地am, for the town settlement called Ku地ameanakai-puram




* * *


The word Aava地am was used in two different meanings in the earliest corpus of Tamil literature.

In one meaning, it stood for a commercial place (Akanaanoo池u 122: 3-4) and in the other meaning it stood for written, legal or administrative documents (Akanaanoo池u 77: 7-8).

Later literature come out with additional meanings such as a street, deriving from the first meaning, and right to property, ownership, slavery, bondage, service, bond, deed etc., deriving from the second meaning.

In its first meaning, Aava地am is obviously a cognate of the Sanskrit word Aapa地a, meaning market, shop, commerce or trade.

Awunu is a related word in Sinhala, meaning a fish or meat market.

Aava地am in its second shade of meaning, i.e., legal or administrative document, is not related to Sanskrit.

* * *


Early meanings for the word Aava地am:

Commercial place:


溺allal Aava地a ma池uku udan madiyin Val uraik kadugn chol annai thugnchaa値 (Akanaanoo池u, 122: 3-4)

மல்லல் ஆவண மறுகு உடன் மடியின் வல் உரைக் கடுஞ் சொல் அன்னை துஞ்சாள் (அகநானூறு, 122: 3-4)

Even if the prosperous market place along with its streets goes to sleep, my mother having high voice and harsh words will not sleep




Legal or administrative document:


適ayi池u pi地ik kuzhichi oalai ko地maar Po池i ka地du azhikkum aava地a maakka値in (Akanaanoo池u, 77: 7-8)

கயிறு பிணிக் குழிசி ஓலை கொண்மார் பொறி கண்டு அழிக்கும் ஆவண மாக்களின் (அகநானூறு, 77: 7-8)

Like the people (officials) of documents, who verify the seal of the rope-tied, pot-container of palm-leaf documents brought to them and draw out the leaves




Other shades of usages found in later literature and inscriptions:


填rimai, angkaadi, theru, punarpoosam, ivai oru naankum Aava地am enpa (Pingkala Nika地du 10:119)

உரிமை, அங்காடி, தெரு, புனர்பூசம், இவை ஒரு நான்கும் ஆவணம் என்ப (பிங்கல நிகண்டு 10:119)

Ownership, commercial place, street and the constellation Punarpoosam (Castor and Pollux) these four are called Aava地am (the twin stars Castor and Pollux gained the name as they were compared to a street)


鄭ava地aththaal en thannai aad ko地daan kaa地 (Appar Theavaaram 6:24:3)

ஆவணத்தால் என் தன்னை ஆட் கொண்டான் காண் (அப்பர் தேவாரம் 6:24:3)

See! He (God Siva) enslaved me by right (as by a bond-deed)


天ilaiyaava地a oalai ezhuthi vittu (771 CE, South Indian Inscriptions, xiv, 19)

விலையாவண ஓலை எழுதி விற்று (771 CE, South Indian Inscriptions, xiv, 19)

Sold by writing a sales deed


* * *


The village by the name Aava地am, located near Naanaaddaan in Mannaar, is specialized in the service of washing clothes.

This is a village largely settled by the community of washers and they virtually serve the entire region of Mannaar, informs Dr. A.S. Sosai of the University of Jaffna.

There could be two possibilities for the village getting the name: either it was once a textile market run by a guild of dyers who later became washers, or it was a settlement established by a deed for the occupation of the service community of washers.

The guild of textile dyers (Chaayakkaarar), who were once flourishing in the island due to abundant availability and demand for natural dye, took to washing clothes with the decline of native textile industry and advent of chemical dye in British times.

As the name suggests, the small town Naanaaddaan of today, which is located just two km from Aava地am, was probably a major centre of the famous medieval trade guild, Naanaa-theasi (Naa-naadu is a synonym), under which several guild communities of various crafts were functioning.

* * *


Pamu地u-gama as a village name is found in Wattala division of Gampaha district, Bandaragama division of Kalutara district and in Mahaoya division of Ampaa池ai district.

Aava地am is a village in Naanaaddaan division of Mannaar district.

* * *


Some related place names:

Maha-pamu地u-gama: The big village in the endowment land of hereditary right; Wattala division, Gampaha district

Pamu地u-vila: The pond of the endowment land of hereditary right; Biyagama division, Gampaha district

Pamu地u-watta: The endowment grove of hereditary right; Mirigama division, Gampaha district

Pamu地uwa: The endowment land of hereditary right; Yatawatta division, Matale district; Udunuwara division, Kandy district; Maharagama division, Colombo district

Deena-pamu地uwa: The land endowed with hereditary right to poor, distressed or needy; Attanagalla division, Gampaha district

Nam-pamu地uwa: The new endowment land of hereditary right; Kesbewa division, Colombo district. Nawaya > Namaya > Nam

Kirigam-pamu地uwa: The milk-producing village endowed with land of hereditary right; Homagama division, Colombo district

Gal-pamu地a: The rocky land endowed with hereditary right; Malimbada division, Matara district

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Aava地ak-karuththan: Probably the tank or land of a person called Ka池uththaan from the place Aava地am (The neighbouring places have the names of people like, Saibu, Noor and Vaaththiyaar. There is an abandoned tank and a small plot of paddy field at this place); Musali division, Mannaar district

First published: Tuesday, 18 September 2012, 19:28

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