Know the Etymology: 26
Place Name of the Day: Thursday, 27 April 2017

Aṇṇamār-tiṭal, Mayila-kas-tiṭar, Paṟaiya-tiṭṭi, Tīṭai/ Tiruṭai

அண்ணமார்திடல், மயிலகஸ்திடர், பறையதிட்டி, தீடை/திருடை
Aṇṇamār-tiṭal, Mayila-kas-tiṭar, Paṟaiya-tiṭṭi, Tīṭai/ Tiruṭai

Tīṭai/ Tiruṭai

The raised ground of the deity Aṇṇamār

The raised ground having Mayilai trees or shrubs

The raised-ground settlement of Paraiyar community

The sandbank islet or shoal (in the Adamas Bridge reef)

Tiṭṭi raised ground (Tamil, DED 3221); place name component meaning a raised ground (Tamil, Brahmi inscriptions, ETE, 33, 58); Tiṭṭu: rising ground, bank, elevation, hillock (Tamil, DED 3221); Tiṭṭai: rising ground, bank, elevation, raised floor (Tamil, DED 3221, Paṭṭiṉappālai, 60): Tiṭal, Tiṭar: rising ground, bank, elevation, island, rubbish heap, prominence, protuberance, (Tamil, DED 3221); Tiṭaṟu: mound (Tamil, DED 3221); Tiraṭu: mound, raised ground (Tamil, Tirunelveli usage, Putumaippittaṉ, Aṉṉai Iṭṭa Tī); Tiṇar: (verb) to form a thick layer, be crowded, dense, close (Tamil, DED 3222); Tiṇi: (verb) to be crowded, dense, close (Tamil, 3222); Tiṇṭu: bank, shoal (Malayalam, DED 3221); Dīṇṭu: rising ground, hillock (Kannada, DED 3221). See columns on Iṭṭi, Ciṭṭi, Piṭṭi and Puṭṭi in Tamil and Piṭiya and Hiṭiya in Sinhala
Tiṭal also Tiṭar: rising ground, bank, elevation, island, rubbish heap, prominence, protuberance, (Tamil, DED 3221). See box on Tiṭṭi
Tīṭai also Tiruṭai: sandbank islets and shoals in the Adam's Bridge reef between Talaimaṉṉār and Rāmēsvaram (Eezham Tamil, Jaffna and Maṉṉār usage). See box on Tiṭṭi
Aṇṇamār a folk deity, mostly associated with the community of agricultural workers called Paḷḷar; wooden clubs and poles are placed at the shrines of this deity; considered as guardian of villages and dams; the plural form of the name suggests that it is a collective deity, probably coming from the cult of ancestor heroes (Eezham Tamil, observations in Jaffna, rituals associated with the dam of the Kantaḷāy tank, Trincomalee, Tirukkōṇācala Vaipavam, 1889); a minor village deity (Tamil, MTL, appendix); Aṇṇamār, Aṇṇaṉmār: the cult of two ancestor-hero brothers, Caṅkar and Poṉṉar (folk cult noticed in the Koṅku region of Tamil Nadu); seems to be from Aṇṇal+mār: the heroes, great people, deities, those who are in heaven; from Aṇṇal: great man, king, god, greatness, exaltation, superiority (Tamil, DED 110, Kuṟuntokai, 260: 5; Naṟṟiṇai, 236:8; 273: 7; Puṟanāṉuṟu, 32: 1; 129: 5); Siva, Vishṇu, Brahma, Murukaṉ, Jina, Buddha, elder brother, chief of the forest tract (Tamil, literary usages); Mār: plural affix (Tamil, Tolkāppiyam, 490); Aṇ: upper part (Tamil, DED 110); Aṇar: (verb) to rise, move upwards (Tamil, DED 110); Aṇavu: (verb) to go upward, ascend (Tamil, DED 110); Aṇṇaṉ: ancestor, royal predecessor (Malayalam, DED 110); elder brother (Tamil, DED 131); Aṇṇā: father (Tamil, Brahmin usage, MTL appendix); Aṇṭar: deities in heaven (Tamil, Tēvāram, 1: 53: 4; 3: 13: 7)
Paṟaiyar community of drummers (Tamil, Puṟanāṉūṟu, 335: 7-8; DED 4032); Paṟaic-cēri: hamlet of the community of drummers (Tamil, inscriptions, 960 CE, SII, iii, 202); Paṟai: 1. (verb) to speak, say; (noun) word, saying, statement (Tamil, DED 4031, Tēvāram, 7: 15-16); 2. (noun) the percussion instrument drum in general (Tamil, DED 4032, Kuṟuntokai, 7: 4-5; 15: 1); Para: 1. outcaste (Sinhala, Clough); "Nīcayā" (Sinhala, Sorata); 2. sound, noise, voice, uproar, thunder; "Ghoṣāva, Hanḍa" (Sinhala, Sorata)
Mayilai various shrubs and trees, either from the leaf resembling peacock's foot, or resembling the eye of peacock's feather or from the flower resembling peacock's crest; 1. Tascan jasmine, "Iruvāṭci," Jasminum sambacflore-manoraepleno (the bifurcated leaf resembles the centre of peacock's feather); 2. Scarlet ixora, "Veṭci," (the flower resembles peacock's crest); 3. Tall chaste tree, "Kāṭṭu-nocci," Vitex altissima, Vitex leucoxylon (the leaf resembles peacock's foot); 4. Peacock's foot tree, Vitex alata (Tamil, MTL); a flowering shrub, Iruvāṭci, see 1 above (Tamil, Cilappatikāram, 5: 191; Piṅkalam, 10: 902); Mayilaṭi: Mayil+aṭi: literally meaning the peacock's foot; 1. Tall chaste tree, "Kāṭṭu-nocci", Vitex altissima, Vitex leucoxylon; 2. Downey Peacock's foot tree, Vitex pubescens (Tamil, MTL); Mayilaṭik-kuruntu: False peacock's foot tree, Nicbuhvira linearis (Tamil, MTL); Mayilaṭi-nocci: Tall chaste tree, see 1 above (Tamil, MTL); Mayilam: 1. Indian acalypha, Acalypha indica; 2. a kind of coarse cotton, leaf compared to peacock's foot (Tamil, MTL); Mayila: 1. a tree; 2. Bauhinia racemosa (Sinhala, Clough); "Enam gas jātiya" (Sinhala, Sorata); leaf of Bauhinia racemosa is similar to Iruvāṭci, see Iruvāṭci; Mayil: peacock (Tamil, DED 4642, cognates in 15 Dravidian languages); Mayir: hair of human beings or animals, fur, fleece, down of birds (Tamil, DED 4707); Mayura: peacock (Sanskrit, etymology traced to Dravidian or Austro-Asiatic, CDIAL 9865)

Tiṭal, Tiṭar and Tiṭṭi in Tamil (DED 3221) basically mean a raised ground. They may also mean a raised-ground plain as in Viḷaiyāṭṭut-tiṭal (playground), a bank, low mound, sandbank, shoal, vacant islet etc. Tīṭai and Tiruṭai (variation of Tiṭaṟu) are in the latter shades of meanings. They are terms used by the fisher folk of Jaffna and Mannar to call the sandbank islets and shoals in the Adam's Bridge reef.

The terms are etymologically connected to the verbs Tiṇi and Tiṇar in Tamil (Ṇ/ Ṭ change), meaning to be dense and to form a thick layer (DED 3222). Note the word form Tiṇṭu in Malayalam meaning bank or shoal.

Tiṭi (Tiṭṭi) is a form noticed as place name suffix meaning a raised ground in Tamil Brahmi inscriptions. The form Tiṭṭai could be found in Caṅkam diction.

* * *

Usage of Tiṭṭai in Caṅkam literature:

"வரி மணல் அகன் திட்டை" (பட்டினப்பாலை, 60)

"Vari maṇal akaṉ tiṭṭai" (Paṭṭiṉappālai, 60)

The broad, raised ground formed by deposits of sand

Usage of the verb Tiṇi:

"உரவுத் திரை பொரு திணி மணல் அடை கரை" (குறுந்தொகை, 175: 2)

"Uravut tirai poru tiṇi maṇal aṭai karai" (Kuṟuntokai, 175: 2)

The shore of thickly packed sand deposits, dashed against by strong waves

* * *

The folk cult of Aṇṇamār or Aṇṇaṉmār, as observed by sections of Eezham Tamils, is different from the cult of the same name seen in the Koṅku region of Tamil Nadu.

In Tamil Nadu, the myth behind the cult centres around two ancestor-hero brothers, Poṉṉar and Caṅkar, and their younger sister. Hence, 'elder brothers' is the common explanation given to Aṇṇaṉmār in Tamil Nadu and the open-place cult centres usually have huge seated images of the two brothers.

No such story is heard in the Eezham Tamil observations of Aṇṇamār cult.

In Jaffna, the community of agricultural workers called Paḷḷar mostly patronizes the Aṇṇamār shrines. Wooden clubs or poles are usually placed on the walls of the shrine to propitiate the deity. According to historiographical literatures of Trincomalee, Aṇṇamār was among the deities placed as guardians of the Kantaḷāy reservoir.

Between Tamil Nadu and Ilaṅkai, the cult is related only in concept.

As the plural form of the term Aṇṇamār implies, the deity seems to be a collective one. A specific case has gained prominence with an associated literature called Aṇṇamār Katai in the Koṅku country. But Aṇṇamār in concept, seems to be collectively standing for all the ancestor heroes or warrior heroes, remembered by certain sections of the society that were engaged in cultivation as well as in soldiery.

The term Aṇṇamār (from Aṇṇal+mār) has the shades of meanings such as, great men, leaders, those who have ascended to heaven, deities etc. In relating Aṇṇamār to Aṇṇaṉ+mār, note Aṇṇaṉ meaning ancestor or royal predecessor in Malayalam (DED 110). See box above on Aṇṇamār for etymology.

In the folk religion of Eezham Tamils, the other examples of collective deities are Kūṭṭattār (literally meaning, 'the members of the group'), Cēvukar (literally meaning 'the people in the service') and Nāccimār (as in the cult of Vaṉṉi-nāccimār).

* * *

Paṟaiyar is one of the old identities noticed in Tamil literature and inscriptions. The etymology is related to Paṟai meaning the percussion instrument drum, and in turn related to the verb form of the word meaning to speak, say, tell etc. (probably announce in this context).

The drum meaning, the expression meaning and the community meaning for the cognates of Paṟai could be seen in Malayalam also. The drum and community meanings are seen in Koṭa. While the drum and expression meanings are found in some other Dravidian languages, the community meaning is not seen in them (DED 4031, 4032). Community and loud-sound meanings are seen in Sinhala for the word Para (Clough, Sorata).

Reference to the community of Paṟaiyar:

"துடியன் பாணன் பறையன் கடம்பன் என்று இந்நான்கு அல்லது குடியும் இல்லை" (புறநானூறு, 335: 7-8)

"Tuṭiyaṉ pāṇaṉ paṟaiyaṉ kaṭampaṉ eṉṟu innāṉku allatu kuṭiyum illai" (Puṟanāṉūṟu, 335: 7-8)

(In this place) there are no communities recognizable other than the four communities, Tuṭiyaṉ, Pāṇaṉ, Paṟaiyaṉ and Kaṭampaṉ

* * *

The components Mayilai and Mayila respectively come in a number of Eezham Tamil and Sinhala place names.

Inferences coming from usages such as Mayilaṅ-kūṭal (Kūṭal: collection of trees, grove), Mayilaṅ-kāṭu (Kāṭu: forest) etc. in Eezham Tamil place names, and the usage Mayila-gas in Sinhala (Gas: tree, shrub), show that Mayilai/ Mayila mean a shrub or tree in the context of place names.

Various trees and shrubs are called by the terms Mayilai, Mayilam and Mayilaṭi in Tamil. In an early usage example seen in Cilappatikāram, Mayilai was meaning a flowering shrub called Iruvāṭci. In Sinhala, Mayila means a tree or a flowering shrub Bauhinia racemoca. (See box above).

In all these instances, the leaf or flower of the shrub/ tree is compared to an attribute of a peacock.

For instance, in Mayilai (Iruvāṭci) and in Mayila (Bauhinia Racemosa), the bifurcated leaf resembles the eye in a peacock feather. In Mayilai (scarlet ixora), the flower is compared to the crest of a peacock. In the other shrubs/ trees having Mayilai-related names (mostly Nocci-related Vitex species) the leaf is compared to peacock's foot.

Mayil meaning peacock in Tamil is listed as a word of Dravidian etymology (DED 4642). See box above.

* * *

Mayilai as a flowering shrub:

"இல்வளர் முல்லை மல்லிகை மயிலை" (சிலப்பதிகாரம், 5: 191)

"Ilvaḷar mullai mallikai mayilai" (Cilappatikāram, 5: 191)

Mullai, Mallikai and Mayilai growing in house premises [Mayilai in this context means Iruvāṭci, the bifurcated leaf of which is compared to the eye of peacock's feather]

* * *

Aṇṇamār-tiṭal is a place in Tampalakāmam in Trincomalee district. Some rituals related to the Tampalakāmam Kōṇēcar temple used to take place at this site. At present there is a Piḷḷaiyār temple. The place is also noted as Aṇṇaṉmār-tiṭal (V. Almanac, 13-14, p. 101).

Mayila-kas-tiṭar is in Pottuvil division of Amparai district. The place name is a combination of Tamil and Sinhala components. (Kas: from Gas in Sinhala)

Paṟaiya-tiṭṭi is a locality in Maṇṭai-tīvu Island of Jaffna district (Balasundaram, p. 155)

Tīṭai/ Tiruṭai are sandbank islets and shoals in the Adam's Bridge reef, between Talaimaṉṉār and Ramēsvaram. There are 11 such islets and many shoals.

* * *

Some related place names:


Antaṇaṉ-tiṭal: near Kapputū, Jaffna OIS. Antaṇaṉ: Brahmin (Tamil, Malayalam, DED 148, Puṟanāṉūṟu, 200: 13); Antaṇmai: Brahmanhood (Tamil, DED 148)

Vērat-tiṭal: Vēmpirāy, Point Pedro OIS. The place has sand dunes. Vēr: Chaya-root

Ilantait-tiṭal: Mantuvil, Point Pedro OIS

Māḷikait-tiṭal: Manthai West, Mannar

Paṭṭit-tiṭal: Moothoor, Trincomalee

Kaḷa-veṭṭit-tiṭal: Kandavalai, Kilinochchi. Kaḷa-veṭṭi: threshing floor

Muḷḷit-tiṭal: Mannar Town, Mannar

Ciṅkaḷat-tiṭal: Eravurpattu, Batticaloa

Kiṟaval-tiṭal: Poratheevuppattu, Batticaloa. Kiraval: Gravel (from English)

Muṉmārit-tiṭal: Kiṇṇiya, Trincomalee OIS

Periya-tiṭal: Kiṇṇiya, Trincomalee OIS

Cippit-tiṭal: Kiṇṇiya, Trincomalee OIS

Kākkāc-cippit-tiṭal: Kiṇṇiya, Trincomalee OIS

Karaiccit-tiṭal: Kiṇṇiya, Trincomalee OIS

Vaṉṉicciyā-tiṭal: Kiṇṇiya, Trincomalee OIS

Vaṇṇā-mēṭu-tiṭal: Kiṇṇiya, Trincomalee OIS

Vaṇṇā-tiṭal: Kiṇṇiya, Trincomalee OIS

Vaṭuvup-pirappan-tiṭal: Kiṇṇiya, Trincomalee OIS

Konēriyā-tiṭal: Kiṇṇiya, Trincomalee OIS

Naṭut-tiṭal: Mūtūr, Trincomalee OIS

Tōpput-tiṭal: Mūtūr, Trincomalee

Paḷḷit-tiṭal: Medirigiriya, Polonnaruwa. Also noted as Palliya-goḍella in Kaudulla OIS

* * *


Kaṉṉā-tiṭṭi: Jaffna City, Jaffna. See column 469

* * *


Paṟaiya-kaṇṭi: Karainagar, Jaffna

Paṟaiya-kuḷam: Mantai West, Mannar

Paṟaiya-kaṭavai: Valikamam Southwest, Jaffna, (Balasundaram, p. 427)

Paṟaiyaṉ-kāṭu: Valikamam south, Jaffna, (Balasundaram, p. 427)

Paṟaiyaṉālaṅ-kuḷam: Paṟaiyaṉ+ālaṅ+kuḷam: Veñkalacceṭṭikuḷam, Murunkan OIS

* * *

Mayilai: (Tamil)

Mayiliṭṭi: Valikamam North, Jaffna

Mayilaṅ-kūṭal: Iḷavālai, Valikamam North, Jaffna

Mayilaṅ-kāṭu: Ēḻālai South, Valikamam South, Jaffna (V. Almanac)

Mayiliyap-pulam: Caravaṇai East, Kayts, Jaffna (V. Almanac)

Mayilappai: Mayilaip+pāy: Māviṭṭapuram, Valikamam North, Jaffna

Mailiyāt-taṉai: Valveṭṭittuṟai, Jaffna (Balasundaram, p. 93)

Mailiyōṭai: Mayili+ōṭai: Kōppāy, Jaffna (Balsundaram, p. 93)

Mayilaṅ-kuḷam: Vannathivillu, Puttalam

Maha-mayilaṅ-kuḷam: Vavuniya South, Vavuniya

Mayila-vaṭṭavāṉ: Eravurpattu, Batticaloa

Mayilampā-veḷi: Mayilam+pā+veḷi: Eravurpattu, Batticaloa

Mayilantaṉai: Koralaippattu West, Batticaloa. See Mailiyāt-taṉai

Mayilaṅ-karaicci: Koralippattu, Batticaloa. Vakeneri OIS

* * *

Mayilai: (Sinhala)

Mayila-valāna: Dompe, Gampaha

Mayila-piṭiya: Pathahewaheta, Kandy

Mayilattāva: Mayila+attāva: Dambulla, Matale

Mayila-gas-tẹnna: Walapane, Nuwara Eliya; Badalkumbura, Moneragala

Mayila-vẹva: Gomarankadawala, Trincomalee

Mayilệva: Giribawa, Kurunegala

Mayilāva: Nattandiya, Puttalam

Mayila-gas-vẹva: Kekirawa, Anuradhapura, Galenbindunuwewa, Anuradhapura

Tōrava-mayilệva: Kurunegala (Paranavitana, 1970, p. xi)

* * *

Eye of peacock feather
Eye of peacock feather
Peacock's foot
Peacock's foot
Peacock's crest
Peacock's crest
Leaf of Bauhinia racemosa
Leaf of Bauhinia racemosa
Vitex altissima
Vitex altissima
Vitex altissima five leaved
Vitex altissima five leaved
Scarlet ixora
Scarlet ixora

* * *

Revised: Thursday, 27 April 2017, 20:15

First published: Sunday, 08 July 2007, 01:00

Previous columns:


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