Know the Etymology: 3
Place Name of the Day: Wednesday, 01 February 2017

Vali-kāmam, Mallākam

வலிகாமம், மல்லாகம்
Vali-kāmam, Mallākam


The sandy village

The village named after a person having the title Malla

Kāmam village (Eezham Tamil place names, Tamil inscription, 11th century CE, Velgam Vihāra, Trincomalee, Indrapala, 2006, plate 27, p. 389; Chola inscription, 1175 CE, EI, xxii, 14); Kirāmam: Brahmin village (Tamil, c. 5th century CE, Manimēkalai, 13: 103; Pallava inscription, SII, iii, 43); Grāma: troop, village (Sanskrit, Rig Vedic, CDIAL 4368); Gāma: village (Pali, Prakrit, CDIAL 4368); village-name endings in early inscriptions of Amarāvati, Andhra (Indrapala, 2006, p. 389); Gama: village (Early Brahmi inscriptions of the island); Gama, Gam: village, endowment village such as Nińda-gama, place, community or caste (Sinhala, Sorata). See column 36 and box on Gama 1
Kam village, shortened form of Kāmam (Jaffna place names). See box on Kāmam, and Gama/ Gam in column 36
Vali sandy (Eezham Tamil place names); Vẹli: sand, gravel (Sinhala, Clough); Vẹlla: sandy place, sand, sandbank, seashore (Sinhala, Clough); Veli: sand (Dhivehi/ Maldivian, DBF); 1. Vālukā: sand, gravel (Sanskrit, CDIAL 11580); sand (Pali, CDIAL 11580); Vālukam: white sand, sand dune (Tamil, Cilappatikāram, 6: 131; 13: 161); Vāl-ekkar: sandbank, sand dune, white sand of the seashore or riverbank (Tamil, Caṅkam diction, Kalittokai, 124: 4); Vāl: whiteness, purity, abundance (Tamil, DED 5364, Caṅkam diction); Pāl: milk known for its whiteness (Tamil, DED 4096); 2. Vēlā: limit, boundary, time, shore (Sanskrit, probable Dravidian origin cited, CDIAL 12115); Vēli: boundary, seashore as it makes boundary between land and sea (Tamil, DED 5538, Caṅkam diction, Kuṟuntokai, 345: 7; Porunarāṟṟuppaṭai, 246-247); Vēlai: sandy seashore, seashore, sea (Tamil, Caṅkam diction, Paripāṭal, 19: 18; Cilappatikāram, 6: 131). See column 207
Malla adjective of Mallaṉ: title of royal personalities noticed since 7th century CE, as in Mā-mallaṉ, from the meanings: wrestler, great, famous man (Tamil, DED 4730); Mal: wrestling, boxing (Tamil, DED 4730); Malla: wrestler by profession (Sanskrit, Tamil/ Dravidian origin noted, CDIAL 9907); wrestler (Sinhala, Sorata); title or name suffix of royal personalities as in Niśśaṅga-malla, Sāhasa-malla (Sinhala)

Kāmam, meaning village and coming as suffix in some Tamil place names in the North and East of the island, is not a word of current usage in Eezham Tamil. But the toponymic use of the term in Eezham Tamil could be dated back to at least 11th century CE.

The notable examples are Vela-kāmam found in the Tamil inscriptions of 11th century at Rājajājap Perumpaḷḷi (Velgam Vihāra) in Trincomalee and Valli-kāmam (Vali-kāmam) noted as a place in the north of the island in a 12th century Chola inscription at Tiruvālaṅkāṭu (Epigraphia Indica, XXII, 14).

In meaning a village, the Eezham Tamil word-form Kāmam corresponds to Grāma in Rig Vedic Sanskrit and Gāma in Pali/ Prakrit. Gama is the form found in the early Brahmi inscriptions of the island and continued into Sinhala, while Gāma is the form noticed in the early Amarāvati inscriptions of Andhra. Kirāmam was the Tamilized form seen in Maṇimēkalai (c. 5th century CE) and in early medieval inscriptions of Tamil Nadu, to mean a Brahmin village.

Kāmam differs from all of them in word-form. The few surviving Kāmam-related place names are perhaps examples of Eezham Tamil displaying its own linguist traits in adopting Prakrit/ Sanskrit influences at a given time.

The Kam suffix noticed in a few place names in Jaffna seems to be a shortened form of Kāmam, or may be a direct cognate of Gam in Sinhala.

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See box above and column 207 for etymological discussion on Vali/ Vẹli meaning sand. Usage examples in Tamil and related place names in Sinhala are given under column 207.

Looking at some other place name examples in the island, the prefix Malla in Mallākam seems to be a personal name, title or professional/ clan identity. The Pallavas and some medieval rulers of the island had it as their title or as part of the name. CDIAL traces the etymology of Malla in Sanskrit to Tamil/ Dravidian (CDIAL 9907). Mallaṉ, basically meaning a wrestler from the root Mal, was also applied to mean a great person (Tamil, DED 4730)

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Vali-kāmam, which was originally the name of a particular village, (Ūr) as we see it in the Chola inscription of 12th century, has become the identity of a division in the colonial times. Along with Vaṭamarāṭci, Teṉmarāṭci, Paccilaippaḷḷi and Tīvuppaṟṟu, Valikāmam became one of the five major divisions of the Jaffna Peninsula. The exact location of the original village is not known today.

Mallākam is a place in Valikamam North division of Jaffna district.

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Some related place names:

Vīmaṉ-kāmam: Valikamam North, Jaffna. Vīmaṉ: 1. a personal name; 2. identified with Minuvan-gomu noted in Nampota in the context of Minuvangomu-vihāraya (Indrapala, p. 254). Note another locality name Vīma-ciṭṭi near Kollaṅkalaṭṭi in Valikamam North, Jaffna

Koṭi-kāmam: Thenmaratchi, Jaffna. 1. See Koṭi-gamuva and Koṭi-gam-goḍa: Koṭi: enclosure, fortress, "Koṭuva" (Sorata); Kōṭu: stronghold (Tamil, DED 2207a). 2. Koṭi and Koṭṭi have many meanings of toponymic relevance in Tamil, but application of them is uncertain in the absence of other place name examples

Tampa-kāmam: Pachchilaippalli, Jaffna. Note other place names Pokkaḷan-tampai, Tampa-ciṭṭi, Tampālai etc. Tampa may be related to Daṁbu: a slash and burn cultivation field (Codrington); see Damana,

Paṉaṅ-kāmam: Manthai East, Mullaiththeevu. Paṉai: palmyra palm (Tamil, DED 4037)

Ampa-kāmam: Oddusuddan, Mullaiththeevu. The prefix may mean a canal. Note place names like Ampaṉ and Ampaṉai

Iṟak-kāmam: Irakkamam/ Eragama, Amparai. Ira: tax, revenue, rent (Sinhala, Sorata); Iṟai: tax on land, duty (Tamil, DED 521)

Tampala-kāmam: Thampalakamam, Trincomalee. 1. Tampalam: betel leaf (Tamil, Caṅkam diction, Kalittokai, 65: 13); Tāmbūla: betel, betel leaf (Sanskrit, Austro-Asiatic origin noted CDIAL 5776); note place names like, Tampala-vattai in Poratheevuppattu, Batticaloa and Taṁbala-gama in Neluwa, Galle. 2. Tampal: mud, mire, "Cēṟu" (Tamil, Kathiraiver Pillai); hardening of rice fields after heavy rain (Tamil, DED 3083; MTL cites Jaffna Dictionary); Dammu: mud, mire, wet ground, irrigation (Telugu, DED 3083); Tampal-aṭittal: to plough a field after rains (Tamil, MTL); Tampal-āṭutal: making muddy, "Cēṟākkutal" (Tamil, Kathiraiver Pillai). The meanings connected to mud and paddy field preparation are more appropriate to the context of Tampala-kāmam. Note other place names Tampilu-vil, Taṁbala-vẹva and Tampalā-vela

Mēṉ-kāmam: Moothoor, Trincomalee. Mēṉ, Mēl: upper, superior, west, (Tamil, DED 5086)

Katir-kāmam: Moneragala, Badulla. A place considered sacred to a God there by the Vedda aborigines; considered sacred to God Murukaṉ by Tamils and considered sacred to Kumāra (equated to Murukaṉ) by Sinhalese. The form of the place name is noticed in Tamil in 15th century (Tiruppukaḻ); Katira-malai: the sacred hill at Katir-kāmam (Katira-malaip-paḷḷu, 16th century); Katara-gama: a place on the banks of Mẹṇik-gańga (Sinhala, Sorata); Katara-gama-devi: Skanda-kumāra-deviyā, the presiding deity of Katara-gama (Sinhala, Sorata); Katir: (verb) to shine, glow; (noun) ray of light, light (Tamil, DED 1193); katir-vēl: the spear of God Murukan (Tamil)

Paḻu-kāmam: Porativuppattu, Batticaloa. The place is an old village that formally headed a division. Its location provides one of the shortest ferry points to cross the Batticaloa lagoon. Therefore it was an important settlement on the western side of the lagoon, in the communication route between Batticaloa and the Kingdom of Kandy. Paḻu: probably a changed form of Paḻa: old (Tamil, DED 3999, cognates in 16 Dravidian languages); note the example of an ancient village Paḻu-ūr in Tamil Nadu; Paḷamu: first, former, prior, previous, before, past, gone by (Sinhala, Clough)

Uṟu-kāmam: Eravurpattu, Batticaloa: Uru: big, great; "Mahat, Praśasta" (Sinhala, Sorata); Uṟu: (verb) to be numerous, (adjective) much, abundant (Tamil, DED 711); Uruvu: magnitude, largeness, bigness, great, big (Telugu, DED 711)

Poru-kāmam: Porativuppattu, Batticaloa

Ceṅ-kāmam: Thirukkoyil, Amparai

Cā-kāmam: Thirukkoyil, Amparai. The place is called Sagama in Sinhala

Iḷa-kāmam: a place in Karaṇavāy, Vadamaratchi Southwest, Jaffna, (Balasundaram, p. 267). Iḷa: young (Tamil, DED 513); means small in the context of place names, as in Iḷavālai, Iḷa-marutaṅ-kuḷam, Iḷa-kantai etc.

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Paṇṇākam: Valikamam West, Jaffna. Paṇṇā: probably related to the community Pān, Pāṇar (Tamil, DED 4068); or to Paṇ: service, work (Tamil, DED 3884)

Cuṇṇākam: Valikamam south, Jaffna. Cuṇṇam: powdered lime (Tamil, Caṅkam diction, Maturaikkāñci, 399); Cūrṇa: anything ground, lime powder (Sanskrit, CDIAL 4889); Cuṇṇa: powder (Pali, Prakrit, CDIAL 4889); lime plaster (Pali, CDIAL 4889); Suṇu, Huṇu: powdered lime (Sinhala, Sorata). Note another place name Cuṇṇā-vil

Karampakam: Karampa-kam: Thenmaratchi, Jaffna. Karampu, Karampai: waste land (Tamil, DED 1285, Caṅkam diction, Kuṟuntokai, 400: 4-5, inscription, 789 CE, SII, ii, 99); Karaṁba: a thorny shrub that is commonly found in arid wasteland, Carissa carandas, Carissa spinarum (Sinhala, Clough); salty water, "Kara-diya" (Sinhala, Sorata, the second meaning in Sinhala is related to Kari as verb meaning 'to be saltish to the taste' and Kārppu meaning saltness in Tamil, DED 1466)

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Valit-tuṇṭal: a coastal locality near Kīrimalai, Valikamam North, Jaffna. Tuṇṭal, Tuṇṭi: a detached piece of high land left waste (Tamil, DED 3310)

Vali-kaṇṭi: a locality in Kuṭattaṉai, Vadamaratchi Northeast, Jaffna. Kaṇti: 1. a piece of land; 2. a paddy field (Tamil, both are applicable to the context of the locality)

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Mallavacci-goḍa: Mallavārācci-goḍa?: Walallavita, Kalutara. Ārācci: a village official (Sinhala)

Mallā-gama: Walapane, Nuwara Eliya. In this context Mallā may also mean hill in this context

Mallava-piṭiya: Mallawapitiya, Kurunegala. The place name could mean a ground where wrestling competitions take place, as in Aň-keḷi-piṭiya, Porapol-piṭiya etc.

Niśśaňga-malla-pura: Thamankaduwa, Polonnaruwa. This is a modern place name given after the name of a medieval king.

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Traditional regions of the Jaffna peninsula
Traditional regions of the Jaffna peninsula

Example of Eezham Tamil word-form Kāmam in a 11th century CE inscription at Velgam Vihāra in Trincomalee [Image courtesy: Indrapala, K., 2006, plate 27]

Valli-kāmam (Valikāmam) noted as a place in the north of the island in a 12th century CE Chola inscription [Image courtesy- Sadasiva Pandaraththar, History of Cholas Vol II]

Revised: Wednesday, 01 February 2017, 20:30

First published: Friday, 15 June 2007, 01:00

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