Know the Etymology: 30
Place Name of the Day: Friday, 28 April 2017


Kaṭṭu-muṟivu/Kaṭṭu-muṟivuk-kuḷam, Pūpālak-kaṭṭu, Maṟicca-kaṭṭu/Maṟiccuk-kaṭṭi, Uṭaiyār-kaṭṭu/Uṭaiyār-kaṭṭuk-kuḷam, Veḷḷāḷak-kaṭṭu, Cāvaṟ-kaṭṭu

கட்டுமுறிவு/கட்டுமுறிவுக்குளம், பூபாலக்கட்டு, மறிச்சகட்டு/மறிச்சுக்கட்டி, உடையார்கட்டு/உடையார்கட்டுக்குளம், வெள்ளாளக்கட்டு, சாவற்கட்டு
Kaṭṭu-muṟivu/ Kaṭṭu-muṟivuk-kuḷam, Pūpālak-kaṭṭu, Maṟicca-kaṭṭu/ Maṟiccuk-kaṭṭi, Uṭaiyār-kaṭṭu/ Uṭaiyār-kaṭṭuk-kuḷam, Veḷḷāḷak-kaṭṭu, Cāvaṟ-kaṭṭu

Kaṭṭu+muṟivu
Kaṭṭu+muṟivu+kuḷam
Pūpālaṉ+kaṭṭu
Maṟicca+kaṭṭu
Maṟiccu+kaṭṭi
Uṭaiyār+kaṭṭu
Uṭaiyār+kaṭṭu+kuḷam
Veḷḷāḷar+kaṭṭu
Cāval+kaṭṭu


The breached dam (tank) or the tank of the dam that bends the course of the river

The residence building or enclosure of Pūpālaṉ (the chieftain of Trincomalee temple)

The boundary barrier

The part of land belonging to Uṭaiyār (chief or landlord)/ the tank in the said part; or the tank of Uṭaiyār's dam

The settlement-part or enclave of Veḷḷāḷa community

The place to bet for cockfight or the stage for cockfight


Kaṭṭu1 (noun) dam, causeway; (verb) to tie, fasten, build, shut up, store, to fill as a tank with water (Tamil, DED 1147, MTL); (verb) to dam, shut, obstruct, build (Kannada, DED 1147); (noun) dam, "Vẹv-niyara" (Sinhala, Sorata); Aṇaik-kaṭṭu: dam, embankment (Tamil, DED 122+ 1147); Kaṭṭai: dam (Tamil, DED 1147); Keṭṭu: dam, bank (Malayalam, DED 1147); Kaṭṭe: embankment, dam, causeway (Kannada, DED 1147); bund of tank (Kodagu, DED 1147); Kaṭṭa: dam (Tulu, Telugu, Naikri, DED 1147); cognates in 16 Dravidian languages. See columns 170 and 228
Kaṭṭu2 (noun) a large house with enclosed premises, house of a chieftain (Eezham Tamil usage); (noun) building (Tamil, DED 1147); part of a house or building (Tamil, MTL, appendix); something built (Kannada, DED 1147); (verb) to build (Tamil, Kannada, DED 1147); Kaṭṭaṭam: building (Tamil, DED 1147); Kaṭṭal: state of being surrounded (Kannada, DED 1147); Kaṭṭe: platform built under tree on village green (Kodagu, DED 1147); cognates in 13 Dravidian languages. See columns 170 and 228
Kaṭṭu3 (noun) boundary, border, limits, boundary or boundary post of a territory or country (Eezham Tamil usage, as in Kaṇṭiyak-kaṭṭu); (verb) to tie, fasten, shut up (Tamil, DED 1147); to tie, bind, shut, obstruct, be bound, be stopped (Kannada, DED 1147); to tie, bind, obstruct (Telugu, DED 1147); (noun) fortification, protection, defence (Tamil, MTL); Kaṭṭal: (noun) state of being bound, tied, surrounded (Kannada, DED 1147); Kaṭṭala: limit or boundary, "Pramāṇaya hō Sīmāva (Sinhala, Sorata); Gaṭu, Gāṭṭū: boundary (Kuwi, DED 1147). See columns 170 and 228
Kaṭṭu4 (noun) a block of land or settlement, defined area, a part of settlement, enclave (Eezham Tamil usage, as in Veḷḷāḷak-kaṭṭu); surrounding, encirclement, section, class, part of a house, bundle, side of a mountain, social relationship, family connection; (verb) to tie, fasten; (Tamil, DED 1147, MTL, MTL appendix); (noun) a part, portion, "Koṭasa"; side, flank, tribe, class, "Pakṣaya" (Sinhala, Sorata); Kaṭṭal: (noun) state of being bound, tied, surrounded (Kannada, DED 1147); related to Kaṭṭu 3. See columns 170 and 228.
Kaṭṭu5bet, wager, stake (Eezham Tamil usage, probably as in Cāvaṟ-kaṭṭu); (verb) to remit, pay up (Tamil, DED 1149); cognates in 6 Dravidian languages; See columns 170 and 228
Kaṭṭi variation of Kaṭṭu 3 (as in Maṟiccuk-kaṭṭi, Mannar and in Maricci-kaṭṭi, Puttalam); for the other usages and meanings, see columns on Kaṭṭi, Kaṭṭiya and Kẹti
Muṟivu1 a breach (Tamil, DED 5008); from Muṟi: (verb) to break (Tamil, DED 5008); Muṟiccal: breaking (Tamil, DED 5008). See column 41 on Muṟippu
Muṟivu2 course of a river bent or changed by a dam (probably, as in Kaṭṭu-muṟivu, Eezham Tamil); from Muri: (verb) to bend; (noun) curve, bend (Tamil, DED 4977); (verb) to bend, be bent, grow crooked, wind, meander; (noun) state of being bent, a bend, winding course of a river (Kannada, DED 4977); Murivu: a bend, winding course of a river (Kannada, DED 4977)
Pūpālaṉ landlord-cultivator, patron, king (Tamil, Piṅkalam, 5: 53; 10: 829); literally meaning the protector or ruler of the earth; from Bhū+Pāla > Bhūpāla: king (Sanskrit, CDIAL 9555); in the context of the place-name, a shortened title of Taṉiyuṇṇāp-pūpālaṉ: Taṉi+uṇṇā+pūpālaṉ: literally meaning, the protector of the earth who doesn't eat alone; the family title of a lord or chief, who was put in-charge of the affairs, endowments and communities attached to the Siva temple at Trincomalee in historical times (Eezham Tamil usage, Kōṇēcar Kalveṭṭu)
Maṟicca also Maṟiccu: respectively adjectival and adverbial forms of Maṟi: (verb) to stop, detain, arrest, check, to be checked (Tamil, DED 4765)
Uṭaiyār master, lord (Tamil, DED 593); from Uṭai: wealth (Tamil, DED 593, Piṅkalam, 10: 160); Uṭaimai: state of possessing, possession, wealth, property (Tamil, DED 593); Uṭaiyavaṉ: owner, possessor of wealth (Tamil, DED 593); Oḍe: possession, ownership, lordship; Oḍeya: owner, lord, master, ruler; Oḍati: female having ownership (Kannada, DED 593); Oḍayāḍu, Odayūḍu: master, lord, owner, husband (Telugu, DED 593); Oḍayurālu: female owner, mistress (Telugu, DED 593); Uṭaiyār: Title of a king or a chief (Tamil, inscriptions, c. 500 CE, Āvaṇam, 1, pp 67-69); those who have the right on a property etc., (Tamil, inscriptions, 745 CE, TAMIZ, 1970, p.122); Uṭaiyāṉ: Landlord (Tamil, inscriptions, 916 CE, SII, xix, 221)
Veḷḷāḷar also Vēḷāḷar: community of cultivators (Tamil, DED 5507); Veḷḷāṇmai, Veḷḷāmai: cultivation (Tamil, DED 5507); 1. Viḷai: (verb) to cultivate, cause to grow, to be produced (Tamil, DED 5437); 2. Vēḷ: petty ruler, chief (Tamil, DED 5545); Vēḷir: a class of ancient chiefs in the Tamil country (Tamil, DED 5545)
Cāvaṟ conjunction form of Cāval: cock (Eezham Tamil); cock, male of birds (Malayalam, DED 2818); Cāvalu: cock (Tamil, Tirunelvēli dialect, DED 2818); variation of Cēval: cock, male swan, stallion, male of birds and fowls excepting peacock (Tamil, DED 2818, Kuṟuntokai, 85: 2; 107: 1-2; Puṟanāṉūṟu, 67: 1; Tolkāppiyam, 27: 69); Cawge: cock-bird (Maltese, DED 2818)


The components, Kaṭṭu, Kaṭṭi and Kaṭṭai in Eezham Tamil place names, and Kaṭṭuva, Kaṭuva and Kẹṭiya in Sinhala place names, have varying shades of usage meanings, but they are related to one another in etymology.

Kaṭṭu in a place name like Kaṭṭu-muṟivu means a dam, in Pūpālak-kaṭṭu means a building enclosure, in Maṟicca-kaṭṭu means a boundary or border-barrier, in Uṭaiyār-kaṭṭu may mean a dam or a defined territory, in Veḷḷālak-kaṭṭu means a settlement part or enclave, and in Cāvaṟ-kaṭṭu may mean a platform or a place to bet.

In the first five of them, the meanings basically come from Kaṭṭu as a verb in Tamil meaning to tie, fasten or bind (DED 1147). In Cāvaṟ-kaṭṭu, if Kaṭṭu means a platform, it is again related to the same verb said above, but if it means betting, then it is related to Kaṭṭu as a verb meaning to remit in Tamil (DED 1149). But, note that this too is ultimately related to binding (DED 1147).

See boxes on Kaṭṭu above and compare them with boxes and place names coming under Kaṭṭuva and Kẹṭiya in Sinhala (columns 228, 182) and Kaṭṭai, and Kaṭṭi in Tamil. Also see column 170, for how the term Kaṭṭāṭi in Tamil and Sinhala is also related in a different way to Kaṭṭu (DED 1147).

* * *


The component Muṟivu, which may mean a breach in this column and Muṟippu meaning a dam or barrage discussed in column 41, come from the same verb Muṟi (DED 5008). See box above and column 41 for the relationship and differences in usage. If Muṟivu means a deviation in Kaṭṭu-muṟivu, then the verb is Muri, meaning to bend (DED 4977).

See boxes above on the components, Maṟicca, Veḷḷāḷar and Cāval.

* * *


Reference to Pūpālaṉ in the context of Trincomalee:

ஆனமதிக் குலராமன் தனியுண்ணாப் பூபாலன் தனைக் கொணர்ந்து
தேனமர்பூந் தொடைமார்பன் திரிகோணை நகரரசு செய்ய வைத்தான்
(கோணேசர் கல்வெட்டு, 11)

Āṉamatik kularāmaṉ taṉiyuṇṇāp pūpālaṉ taṉaik koṇarntu
Tēṉamarpūn toṭaimārpaṉ tirikōṇai nakararacu ceyya vaittāṉ
(Kōṇēcar Kalveṭṭu, 11)

The honey-flower garlanded one (king Kuḷakkōṭṭaṉ) brought Taṉiyuṇṇāp Pūpālaṉ of the lunar dynasty and comparable to Rama, and made him to rule the city of Trincomlee

* * *


The word Uṭaiyār in the context of Eezham Tamil usage commonly means a village head or landlord of the old times. The word was widely in use as a feudal administrative term. In Tamil literary and inscriptional usage the word stood for master, lord, ruler as well as god. In etymology, the word is of Dravidian origin, coming from the roots Uṭai meaning wealth and Uṭaimai meaning possession (DED 593).

Uṭaiyār meaning those who possess wealth:

"உடையார் முன் இல்லார் போல்" (திருக்குறள், 40: 4)

"Uṭaiyār muṉ illār pōl" (Tirukkuṟaḷ, 40: 4)

Like those who don't possess (wealth) look upon those who possess (wealth)


Some early usage examples of Uṭaiyār found in Tamil inscriptions:

"குழலூர்த் துஞ்சிய உடையார்" (c. 500 CE, ஆவணம், I, pp. 67-69)

"Kuḻalūrt tuñciya uṭaiyār" (c. 500 CE, Āvaṇam, I, pp. 67-69)

The chief who died or has been buried at Kuzhaloor 


"இப் பள்ளி உடை-ஆரை நீக்கி" (745 CE, TAMIZ, 1970, p. 122)

"Ip paḷḷi uṭai-ārai nīkki" (745 CE, TAMIZ, 1970, p. 122)

Excluding those who have rights over this shrine

* * *


Kaṭṭu-muṟivu or Kaṭṭu-muṟivuk-kuḷam is in Koralaippattu North division of Batticaloa district. The tank deviates the waters of a small river into another. The tank was also abandoned for a long time before its recent renovation. Muṟivu could mean both bend and breach in this context

Pūpālak-kaṭṭu is in Trincomalee Town and Gravets division of Trincomalee district.

Maṟicca-kaṭṭu or Maṟiccuk-kaṭṭi is in Musali division of Mannar district. Maricca-kaṭṭu is the old form noted by Leonard Woolf. This is the border barrier between Mannar and Puttalam districts and the border barrier of the Vilpattu reserved forest. There is another Maṟiccuk-kaṭṭi near Ampala-veḷi in Puttalam, noted as Maricci-kaṭṭi (One Inch Sheet).

Uṭaiyār-kaṭṭu or Uṭaiyār-kaṭṭuk-kuḷam is in Puthukkudiyiruppu division of Mullaiththeevu district

Veḷḷāḷak-kaṭṭu is a place in Nanaddan division of Mannar district

Cāvaṟ-kaṭṭu is a place in Mannar Town division of Mannar district. There is another place by the same name in Āṉaikkōṭṭai in Valikamam Southwest division of Jaffna district. Both places are known for cockfight in the past.

* * *


Some related place names:

Kaṭṭu: (as dam or bund)

Kaṭṭuk-kuḷam: Kuchchaveli, Trincomalee; Kandavalai, Kilinochchi; Thunukkai, Mullaiththeevu; Karaithuraippattu, Mullaiththeevu; Poratheevuppattu, Batticaloa

Periya-kaṭṭu: Vengalachcheddikulam, Vavuniya

Kaḷappuk-kaṭṭu: Pothuvil, Amparai. The place borders the Aṟukam-kuṭā Kaḷappu and is adjacent to a narrow sandbar that blocks the mouth of the lagoon. Kaṭṭu here could mean a part of land as well as an embankment or causeway

Mīṉōṭaik-kaṭṭu: Addalaichchenai, Amparai

Maṅkik-kaṭṭu: Manmunai West, Batticaloa

Oṭṭaṉ-kaṭṭuk-kuḷam: Puthukkudiyiruppu, Mullaiththeevu. See column 83

Pallavarāyaṉ-kaṭṭu: Tunukkai, Mullaiththeevu

Pallavarāyan-kaṭṭuk-kuḷam: Poonakari, Kilinochchi

Muttaiyaṉ-kaṭṭuk-kuḷam: Oddusuddan, Mullaiththeevu

Kaṟ-kaṭṭuk-kuḷam: Trincomalee Town and Gravets, trincomalee

Puṭavaik-kaṭṭu: Kuchchaveli, Trincomalee. The place name may be related to laying fishing nets

Kaṭṭuk-karaik-kuḷam: Tamil name of The Giant's Tank, Mannar

Kaṭaicik-kaṭṭu: near Vaṅkālai, Mantai OIS. This is the last bund of the irrigation network coming under Kaṭṭuk-karaik-kuḷam; also the last part of the paddy fields

Ceṅ-kaṭṭuk-kēṇi: Karaithuraippattu, Mullaiththeevu

Kaṭṭuṭai: Māṉippāy, Jaffna

Koṭṭaṉ-kaṭṭu: Kantarōṭai, Jaffna (Balasundaram, p. 69)

* * *


Kaṭṭuvaṉ: (Kattu in the meaning of dam or bund; Kaṭṭu+aṉ; Aṉ: attributive suffix)

Kaṭṭuvaṉ: Valikamam North, Jaffna. Kaṭṭu+aṉ (Aṉ: attributive suffix)

Puṉṉālaik-kaṭṭuvaṉ: Valikamam South, Jaffna

Kallāk-kaṭṭuvaṉ: near Cuṉṉākam, Valikamam South, Jaffna

Pallak-kaṭṭuvaṉ: Poonakari, Kilinochchi

* * *


Kaṭṭu: (as residential building, settlement-part, enclave etc. Some of them may mean a dam/ tank also)

Nāyaṉmār-kaṭṭu: Nallūr, Jaffna

Kōrakkaṉ-kaṭṭu: Kandavalai, Kilinochchi

Kaṭṭukkāraṉ-kuṭiyiruppu: Mannar Town, Mannar

Pālaip-perumāḷ-kaṭṭu: Manthai West, Mannar

Periya-valaiyaṉ-kaṭṭu: Madu, Mannar. The larger part of Valaiyaṉ-kaṭṭu, settlement of Valaiyar (fishermen); Valai: (noun) net (Tamil, DED 5288); Vala: (verb) to encircle, surround, spin as a spider its thread, plait, string in a series, tie, bind (Tamil, DED)

Ciṉṉa-valaiyaṉ-kaṭṭu: Madu, Mannar. The smaller part of Valaiyaṉ-kaṭṭu. See Periya Valaiyaṉ-kaṭṭu

Kaṭṭuk-kuṭiyiruppu: Nanaddan, Mannar

Peruccār-kaṭṭu: Nanaddan. Mannar

Cōlaiyaṉ-kaṭṭu: Nanaddan, Mannar

Iṭaik-kaṭṭu: Puthukkudiyiruppu, Mullaiththeevu; Oddusuddan, Mullaiththeevu

Kaṭaiyaṉ-kaṭṭuk-kuḷam: Karaithuraippattu, Mullaiththeevu

Ūriyāṉ-kaṭṭu: Koralaippattu, Batticaloa

Malaiyār-kaṭṭu: Poratheevuppattu, Batticaloa

Antaṇaṉ-kaṭṭu: Arachchikattuwa, Puttalam

* * *


Kaṭṭu: (as boundary, border)

Kaṇṭiyak-kaṭṭu: the boundary post of the Kandyan territories, passed through while travelling from Batticaloa (Kanthaiya, V. C)

* * *


Uṭaiyār:

Uḍayār-tōppuva: Negombo, Gampaha. Tōppu: grove

Kappuṭaiyār-paḷḷivācal: Manthai West, Mannar

* * *


Notes on Cāvaṟ-kaṭṭu:

Veḷḷaṭiyāṉ Cēval is a surviving breed of fighter cock seen in Jaffna. Veḷḷaṭiyāṉ (Veḷ-aṭiyāṉ) means, plain-legged. This breed has tall and strong legs. The term is probably an equivalent of Veṭṭuk-kāl-cēval found in Tamil Nadu. 

Veḷḷaṭiyāṉ might have got that name, because it was pitted without fixing knives on its spur. The breed is useless for its meat because of its extraordinary toughness.

Cāvaṟkaṭṭu in Āṉaikkōṭṭai was a centre for cockfight during British times. The place name survives, and now there is a small fish market in the spot of the old cockfight pit. In 19th century British Ceylon, conducting cockfights was leased to contractors for an annual payment.

* * *


Memorial Stela for a fighting cock
A memorial stone for a fallen cock in a cockfight, inscribed in Tamil Brahmi, evidences the prevalence of the game in ancient Tamil culture. The legend of the inscription, giving even the name of the cock as “Poṟ-koṟṟi” (golden goddess of war), says that the cock fought on behalf of the western quarter of the village Mukaiyūr. “Mukaiyuru mēr [c]ēri[ku] yāṭik karukiya kōḻi” [Tamil Brahmi inscription, Aracalāpuram, Mahadevan I., ETE, 2003, p. 467, 530]





Revised: Friday, 28 April 2017, 17:50

First published: Friday, 13 July 2007, 01:00

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