Know the Etymology: 7
Place Name of the Day: Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Cuṇṭik-kuḻi, Āmaik-kuḻi, Tāmarak-kuliya, Mudalak-kuliya

சுண்டிக்குழி, ஆமைக்குழி, தாமரக்குலிய, முத₃லக்குலிய
Cuṇṭik-kuḻi, Āmaik-kuḻi, Tāmarak-kuliya, Mudalak-kuliya


The pond of the aquatic plant, Cuṇṭi

The tortoise pond

The lotus pond

The crocodile pond

Kuḻi pond, usually a small pond is the main meaning in Eezham Tamil place names; also, waterhole, well, pit, hollow, cavity, depression, excavation (Tamil, DED 1818); (verb) to sink hollow, to be hollowed out (as a hole, pit, cavity), to form pits, hollows, cavities, sink, excavate (Tamil, DED 1818); cognates in 18 Dravidian languages including Brahui (DED 1818); Kuḷam, Kuṭṭai, Kuṇṭu: pond (Tamil, DED 1828, 1669; the pond meaning of the terms come from hollowness; the verbs of them mean to hollow out; note the common root, Ku, and the Ḻ/ Ḷ/ Ṭ/ Ṇ variations)
Kuliya meaning pond in place names found in North Western and Western provinces; Sinhala form of Kuḻi, noting provenance and language change patterns in many of the related place names (Sinhala, see Kuḻi for etymology and see related place names); Kuḷī: tank, tank neighbourhood; "Vẹva, Vẹvaṭa āsanna predeśaya" (Sinhala, Sorata); Kulī: tank, tank neighbourhood; "Kuḷama, Vẹva hō vẹva asala pedesa" (Sinhala, Sorata); Kūla: declivity (Sanskrit, Rig Vedic, CDIAL 3416); Kulyā: small river, canal, ditch (Sanskrit, Rig Vedic, possible Dravidian origin noted, CDIAL 3352); Kūlā, Kūla: pond, tank (Sanskrit lexicons, possible Dravidian origin noted, CDIAL 3352, see box on Kuḻi in Dravidian); Kuḷi: village (Sinhala, Sorata cites Sīgiri Padyā and notes with a question mark); probably from pond names coming as village names; or related to, Kuḻi: general term for paddy field (Tamil, inscription, 731 CE, SII, viii, 331; probably related to paddy field being a shallow land, see box on Kuḻi)
Cuṇṭi sensitive plants of several species (Tamil, Winslow); the leaves of such plants close up when touched; from Cuṇṭu: (verb) to contract (Tamil, MTL); (verb) to tap with the thumb or finger (Tamil, DED 2663); Nīrc-cuṇṭi, Cuṇṭik-kīrai: water mimosa, Desmanthus vergatus (Tamil, MTL); Neptunia oleracea (for the term Cuṇṭaik-kīrai, MTL, Appendix); Vaṟaṭ-cuṇṭi: floating sensitive plant, Mimosa triquetra (Tamil, MTL); Nidi-kumba: species of the sensitive plant, Mimosa pudica (Sinhala, Clough, from Nidi: sleep, disposition to sleep); Toṭṭāl-ciṇuṅki, Toṭṭāl-curuṅki, Toṭṭāl-vāṭi: Mimosa pudica (Tamil, MTL, all forms related to the attribute of closing up at touch)
Āmai also Yāmai: turtle, tortoise (Tamil, DED 5155); cognates in 12 Dravidian languages (DED 5155); probably related to Am, Ām: water (Tamil, DED 187)
Mudala from Mutalai: crocodile (Tamil, DED 4952)
Tāmarai lotus (Tamil, DED 3163); see Tāmarai-villu in column no. 5

The term Kuḻi commonly means a pit or depression in Tamil/ Dravidian (DED 1818). Kuḻi itself is a verb meaning to sink hollow. Coming from this basic meaning, Kuḻi also means a small pond and it is in this shade of meaning the term is mostly found used in Eezham Tamil place names. Note the other terms in Tamil/ Dravidian for pond, such as Kuḷam, Kuṭṭai Kuṇṭu etc., also having the Ku root, but Ḻ/ Ḷ/ Ṭ/ Ṇ variations.

In Sinhala, Sorata lists two words, Kuḷī and Kulī as meaning a tank or tank neighbourhood. They are closer cognates of Dravidian Kuḻi than of Sanskrit Kulyā and Kūla, which the CDIAL traces to possible Dravidian origins (CDIAL 3352).

Kuḷi is also found as a place name suffix in Sigiri Graffiti. With a question mark, Sorata gives the meaning 'village'. Considering the pattern of pond names becoming village names, it is very likely that Kuḷi here means a pond. Also note Kuḻi meaning paddy field in general in the Tamil inscriptions of roughly the same period (731 CE), probably from the shallow landscape of paddy fields. Again, paddy field names becoming village names was also a toponymic pattern of the past.

However, today's Sinhala place names having the component Kuliya are confined to Puttalam, Kurunegala, Gampaha and Colombo districts. Many of them obviously being pond names, traces of recent Sinhalicisation being found in them and their confinement to the said districts should be noted.

* * *

Kuḻi meaning pit:

"நீடு குழி அகப்பட்ட … கொல் களிறு" (புறநானூறு, 17: 15-17)

"Nīṭu kuḻi akappaṭṭa…kol kaḷiṟu" (Puṟanāṉūṟu, 17: 15-17)

The killer elephant that got trapped in the big pit

The usage of Kuḻi meaning a small pond:

"குழி வாய் நெய்தல்" (பெருங்கதை, 48: 48)

"Kuḻi vāy neytal" (Peruṅkatai, 48: 48)

The small species of water lily blossomed in the small pond or pool

"பறைச் சேரியும் வண்ணாரச் சேரியும் பறைக் குளக் குழியும்" (Tamil, inscription, 1014 CE, SII, ii, 4)

"Paṟaic cēriyum vaṇṇārac cēriyum paṟaik kuḷak kuḻiyum" (Tamil, inscription, 1014 CE, SII, ii, 4)

The hamlet of the drummers, the hamlet of the launderers and the pond used by the drummers (the phrase Kuḷak-kuḻi was used here to mean a small pond)

* * *

Cuṇṭi in Tamil is a general term for sensitive plants, the leaves of which close up at touch. The noun corresponds to the verb Cuṇṭu in Tamil, meaning to contract and to tap with the thumb or finger (DED 2663). Some species of Cuṇṭi like the Water Mimosa are aquatic and are also edible. Cuṇṭik-kuḻi is perhaps connected to such a species of Cuṇṭi. Also note another place name Cuṇṭik-kuḷam for the association of Cuṇṭi with water bodies.

Āmai, Mutalai and Tāmarai respectively mean turtle/ tortoise, crocodile and lotus that are found in water bodies. They are listed as Tamil/ Dravidian (DED 5155, 4952, 3163)

* * *

Cuṇṭik-kuḻi is a place in Jaffna city of Jaffna district. There is another place by the same name in Muruṅkaṉ, Nanaddan division of Mannar district.

Āmaik-kuḻi is near Pālāvi in Puttalam division of Puttalam district (One Inch Sheet)

Tāmarak-kuliya is in Dankotuwa division of Puttalam district

Mudalak-kuliya is in Anaimadu division of Puttalam district

* * *

Some related place names:


Kumiḻaṅ-kuḻi: Kayts, Jaffna. Kumiḻ: Gmelina arborea (DED 1742)

Nāvaṟ-kuḻi: Thenmaradchy, Jaffna. Nāval: Eugenia jambolana (DED 2914)

Pālaik-kuḻi: Manthai West, Mannar; Musali, Mannar. Pālai: Mimusops kauki (DED 4100)

Āttik-kuḻi: Nanaddan, Mannar. Ātti: Bauhinia racemosa (DED 372b)

Karaṭik-kuḻi: Musali, Mannar. Karaṭi: bear (DED 1263)

Kaṇṭal-kuḻi: Alayadivempu, Amparai. Kaṇṭal: mangrove (DED 1171)

Kaṟ-kuḻi: Chavakachcheri, Jaffna (Balasundaram, p. 128). Kal: stone, rock (DED 1298)

Navadan-kuli: Puttalam, (Kalpitti One Inch Sheet; the exact spelling not verified)

* * *


Maṭṭak-kuliya: Colombo, Colombo. The muddy pond, see Maṭṭak-kaḷappu

Baṁbu-kuliya: Katana, Gampaha. Paṁpa/ Pampai: a reed found in ponds; see Paṁbu-raṇa

Viti-kuliya: Kobeigane, Kurunegala

Kanda-kuliya-kuḍāva: Kalpitiya, Puttalam. Probably Kaṇṭal; see Kaṇṭal-kuḻi

Sērāk-kuliya: Vannathivillu, Puttalam. Sērā: wild duck (Sinhala, Clough); Tārā: duck (Tamil, DED 3169); Cēṟu: mud (Tamil, DED 2020)

Maduran-kuliya: Mundel, Puttalam. Madura: Terminalia arjuna in Batticaloa and in Puttalam Tamil usage; Marutu (DED 4718) > Madura

Sembu-kuliya: Mahakumbukkadawala, Puttalam. Cempai: an aquatic plant; Cēmpu: Colocasia antiquorum (Tamil, DED 2004)

Gal-kuliya: Mahakumbukkadawala, Puttalam. See Kaṟ-kuḻi

Karuk-kuliya: Arachchikkattuwa, Puttalam; probably Karuṅ-kuḻi, the dark pond

Singak-kuliya: Dankotuwa, Puttalam

Mōruk-kuliya: Dankottuwa, Puttalam

Vini-kuliya: Kobeigane, Kurunegala. Vini: forest

Tiruppan-kuliya: Puttalam One Inch Sheet (the exact spelling not verified)

* * *

Kuliya: (prefix)

Kuliyā-piṭiya: Kuliyapitiya, Kurunegala

* * *


Cuṇṭik-kuḻam: Vadamaratchi East, Jaffna district; Tanaṅkiḷappu, Tenmaratchi, Jaffna district (One Inch sheet)

* * *


Mutalaik-kuṭā: The crocodile backwaters or sea-arm; Manmunai South West, Batticaloa

Mutalai-kutti: The place where crocodiles were killed; Mannar Town, Mannar

Mutalaip-paḷḷat-toṭuvāy: The sandbar-ford or touching sandbar at the shallow ground of crocodiles; Cuṇṭikkuḷam, Vadamaratchi East, Jaffna (One Inch Sheet)

Neptunia oleracea
Neptunia oleracea [Courtesy:]

Revised: Wednesday, 21 December 2016, 22:47

First published: Tuesday, 19 June 2007, 01:00

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