Know the Etymology: 133
Place Name of the Day: Thursday, 20 August 2009
- Land divided by ridges for cultivation
- Cultivation land or village, paying tax in cash
- Land of no produce but paying tax in cash
1. Coinage that was in use in the 13th -14th centuries (Tamil inscriptions); This usage derived from original meanings for the term in Dravidian languages: mould, type, impression, sign, stamp etc (Dravidian Etymological Dictionary 47, also Achchuwa in Sinhala); unjust tax paid for a land when crops failed (Kannada, DED 216); to be in dept, owe (Telugu, DED 216); Achchaaram: Earnest money, advance money or representative money paid (Tamil, DED 5); Achchu-vari: A tax paid in the coinage of Achchu (Tamil inscription dated 1223 CE, Glossary of Tamil Inscriptions); Achchu-polichai: A tax paid in the coinage of Achchu (Tamil inscription, 1224 CE, GTI); Achchu-vatkam: Kinds of taxes paid in the coinage of Achchu (Tamil inscription, 1281 CE, GTI); Veali-kaal-achchu: Tax paid as quarter an Achchu per Veali of land (Tamil inscription, 1248 CE, GTI); Achchu: 2. Ridge in a field (Dravidian Etymological Dictionary 49); The usage probably derived from another set of meanings, axle, axis etc (Changkam and modern Tamil); Aksha: Axle, axis (Sanskrit); Achchuk-kaddu: To form a ridge around a field, field with ridges, land divided into beds to admit and retain water for cultivation of paddy (Tamil, DED 49); to make a ridge along the boundary (Telugu, DED 49); A land made suitable for cultivation by making ridges (Tamil inscription, 1389 CE, GTI)
A measure of cultivation land (Changkam Tamil diction, inscriptions); Land (Old Lexicons, Pingkalam 4:30, Choodaama’ni, 5:6); Land equivalent to roughly five acres (Tanjavur Tamil, Winslow); Village, also an affix to the name of some villages (Old Lexicons, Thivaakaram 5:97, Pingkalam 4:28, Choodaama’ni 5:35, Winslow); As cultivation lands and villages are enclosures or demarcated with boundaries, the usages cited above derived from the original meaning of the word: fence, hedge, wall etc, made of (Veal) thorns, thorny bushes, sticks (Tamil, Malayalam, Changkam diction, Dravidian Etymological Dictionary 5538); Velaa: Limit, boundary, boundary of sea and land, coast, shore (Sanskrit / Prakrit); Vealai: Sea (Changkam Tamil); Veal-aazhi: Sea making a boundary (Changkam Tamil); Welala: Sea shore, bank of a river (Sinhala); Wella: Ridges made in the paddy fields (Sinhala); Wela: Paddy field (Sinhala); Welaa: Boundary, limit, sea shore (Sinhala); Vealik-kaasu: A tax paid per Veali of land (Tamil inscription 1069 CE, GTI)
is a term that indicated a measure of cultivation land right from the times of Changkam
Tamil literature, besides meaning fence, hedge, wall etc.“Veali aayiram vi’laika nin vayalea”
(Let your paddy fields produce a thousand measures per Veali
of land – Pu’ranaanoo’ru 391:21)“Chaali nellin Chi’raiko’l veali aayiram vi’laiyooddu aaka”
(Let a Veali
of land, enclosing paddy crop, produce a thousand measure – Porunaraattuppadai 246-247)
From 19th century usages of the word, especially in the Tanjavur district of Tamil Nadu, we come to know that one Veali
was roughly equivalent to five acres of land (20,000 square metres).
As cultivation fields are protected by enclosures, obviously, this shade of meaning for the word derived from the original meaning, fence, hedge, etc in which sense the word is commonly used in Tamil even today. A fence was usually made of thorny bushes, spiky material etc (Veal
is spike of spear). Veali
in this sense is taken as a Dravidian word (DED 5538), even though similar shades of meanings are found for the word Velaa
in the Sanskrit / Prakrit diction.
Some cultivation villages in Tamil Nadu are known to have the affix Veali
in their names, at least since 7th century CE, as references appear by that time for the toponym, Nel-veali.
Old Tamil lexicons (Nika’ndu
), dating from 8th century CE, note village as one of the meanings for the word Veali
Veali is found as an affix in many Tamil place names in Tamil Nadu and in the island of Sri Lanka.Veali
has to be compared with the Sinhala word Wela
, which means a paddy field. A vast number of Sinhala place names of cultivation villages have the suffix Wela (See column on Bandarawela
The prefix of the toponym Achchu-veali could possibly have three meanings based on inferences found in Tamil inscriptions and language usage.
One possible meaning is that it was a land surrounded or divided by ridges to allow water for cultivation.
The phrase Achchuk-kaddu
is bund), cited by Dravidian Etymological Dictionary 49, and other dictionaries give the above meaning in Tamil and Telugu.
An inscription dated 1389 CE, cited in the Glossary of Tamil Inscriptions, (GTI), Santi Sadhana, 2002, compiled by Prof. Y. Subbarayalu, is a relevant evidence for the meaning of the phrase Achchuk-kaddu:“Kudiyum eatti karampum tiriththi achchuk-kaddaakki payit cheyya kadavaraakamum,”
meaning, “let them bring in population, clear the hard scrubby land, make ridges (to make it arable) and cultivate it.” (South Indian Inscriptions, Vol. VIII, 72)
Even though this shade of meaning for Achchu
is listed in the Dravidian Etymological Dictionary, it has also cognates in the Sanskrit diction (see table).
Another possible meaning for the prefix of the place name, equally evidenced by inscriptions, is that the lands or the village (Veali
) was paying tax in cash.Achchu
meant a coin and it was the name of a particular coinage that was in use, especially in the 13th century. (See table for the phrases derived after this coinage)
In Kannada usage Achchu
is an undue tax paid when a land has no yield, as in such cases tax cannot be paid in kind and has to be paid in cash. In Telugu the word means owing money.
Hence, the third possibility is that Achchu-veali was unproductive stretch of land but was paying tax in cash.
Even though there are paddy fields in the eastern part of Achchuveali, large parts of the village are in fact uncultivable and some decades back the place was marked for an industrial estate.
As coins are minted, the coinage meaning of Achchu
came from original meanings of the word in Dravidian languages: mould, type, impression, print, stamp etc (DED 47), and Achchuwa
) is a Sinhala cognate. Achchu
also has a metaphysical meaning in Tamil. Soul is Achchu
as it can take different forms in different births, but not losing its traits. In a related sense the word is often used to refer to genetic resemblances. Achchu-veali
is a large place of three GS areas and is an important market town in the Valikaamam East division of Jaffna district.Some related place names: Kaddai-veali:
The cultivation land of bunds. (Kaddu:
bund). The meaning is similar to that of one of the meanings of Achchuveali. This is a village of paddy fields in the Valikaamam Southwest division of Jaffna district Neer-veali:
The water logged cultivation land (Neer:
water). The place is low-lying and is considered suitable for banana cultivation. This is a village in the Valikaamam East division of Jaffna district.Changku-veali:
The cultivation lands endowed to the Buddhist monastery (Sangha
). The place is adjacent to the archaeological site of Kantharoadai, having Budhhist remains. Another possible meaning is, cultivation lands of shell-earth. This is a village in the Valikaamam South division of Jaffna district.Thiru-nel-veali:
The village of paddy fields or the land of paddy fields. The place name is often colloquially pronounced as Thi’n’na-veali. But the original form is found referred to in the 15th century literature Vaiyaa Paadal. The place is in the Nalloor division of Jaffna district.Achchezhu, Oorezhu, Eezhaalai:
(Achchu-eazhu, Oor-eazhu, Eazhu-aalai). The three adjacent places were probably parts of a seven-settlements complex. The unproductive part yet paying tax was Achchu-eazhu; the village part was Oor-eazhu and the hamlet part was Eazhu-aalai (Eazhu
means seven. See Vangkaalai
for the meaning of Aalai). These neighbouring villages are in the Valikaamam East and South divisions of the Jaffna district.
, for Sinhala place names ending with Wela
First published: Thursday, 20 August 2009, 13:19