Know the Etymology: 147
Place Name of the Day: Wednesday, 14 July 2010




The reservoir in the locality of Thampanai trees (Mischodon zeylanicus)

ThampanaiA tree peculiar to Sri Lanka and South India, known by the botanical synonyms, Mischodon zeylanicus, Mischodon thwaites or Mischodon zeylanicus thwaites; Tammanaa: The Sinhala name of the tree.
Ku'lamPond, tank, lake, reservoir (Tamil / Malayalam, Dravidian Etymological Dictionary 1828); Ko'la, Ko'lahe, Ko'na: Equivalent to Ku'lam (Kannada); Ku'la: Equivalent to Ku'lam (Tulu); Kolanu, Kolaaku, Kolaakuvu: Equivalent to Ku'lam (Telugu). The cognates of this word are found in several other Dravidian languages too. Also note the following related words: Kuddam: Pond (Tamil, DED1669); Kuddai: Small pond (Tamil, DED 1669); Ku'ndam: Pond, waterhole (Tamil, DED 1669); Kooval: Well (Tamil, DED 1909); Kuzhi: Pit, pond, well (Tamil, DED1818); Ku'lama: Sinhalicised form of Ku'lam. See column on Oddan Kaddu Ku'lam for other etymological discussions

Mischodon zeylanicus Thwaites
Thampanai (Mischodon zeylanicus Thwaites). [Image courtesy: Das Pflanzenreich, IV.50, Leipzig, 1922, p 293, Biodiversity Heritage Library]

Thampanai is a rare and little known species of tree peculiar to the island of Sri Lanka and South India.

Its botanical synonyms are, Mischodon zeylanicus, Mischodon thwaites or Mischodon zeylanicus thwaites. The species is placed under the family of Euphorbiaceae and sometimes under Picrodendraceae.

The Sinhala name for the tree is Tammanaa.

It is described as a long leathery, linear-oblong obtuse-leaved tree. Spolia Zeylanica (1909, p 153) says that this tree occurs sparingly by the rivers.

The tree may grow up to 30-40 feet high.

Its wood, pink or pinkish white in colour, is moderately hard and is used for building. The wood also is said to be durable in water (The Philippines Journal of Science, 1909, p.486).

The tree sprouts twice a year in February and in September and the young foliage is brownish red in colour.

Ku'lam is a widely used Tamil word for pond, lake, tank, reservoir etc. It has cognates in many Dravidian languages. The etymology of the word is connected to concavity of the landscape of lakebed. (See table and also see column on Oddan-kadduk-ku'lam)

Thampanaik-ku'lam lies north of Ne'luk-ku'lam and north of the Vavuniyaa-Mannaar Road in Vavuniyaa district.

The reservoir has rendered the name for the adjacent village that is called Thampanai or Periya Thampanai.

Some related place names:

Tammane: (The locality of) Tammanaa / Thampanai trees. This is a place east of Tantrimalai along Medavaachchiya – Mannaar Road, on the border of Anuradhapura and Vavuniyaa districts.

Tammanewa: Tammane-weva: The tank in the locality of Tammnaa / Thampanai trees. This is a place west of Mihintale along the Anuradhapura - Trincomalee Road, in Anuradhapura district.

Taman-kaduva: Name of a region between Kantha'laay and Minneari tanks bordering Polonnaruwa, Trincomalee and Anuradhapura districts. This district of Kandyan times was called in Tamil as Thampan-kadavai, which means the Pass of Thampanai trees.

First published: Wednesday, 14 July 2010, 10:49

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