Know the Etymology: 82
Place Name of the Day: Sunday, 09 October 2016


Valańciyaṉ-veḷi, Ainūṟṟuvaṉ-vaḷavu, Veḷańda-goḍa, Ūrvaṇikaṉ-paṟṟu

வலஞ்சியன்-வெளி, ஐநூற்றுவன்-வளவு, வெளந்த-கொ₃ட₃, ஊர்வணிகன்-பற்று
Valańciyaṉ-veḷi, Ainūṟṟuvaṉ-vaḷavu, Veḷańda-goḍa, Ūrvaṇikaṉ-paṟṟu

Valańciyaṉ+veḷi
Ainūṟṟuvaṉ+vaḷavu
Veḷańda+goḍa
Ūr+vaṇikaṉ+paṟṟu


The open place of a member of the Vaḷańciyar merchant community

The premises of a member of the Ainūṟṟuvar merchant community

The mercantile village or the bank that has a mart/market place

The part under the control of a merchant of Ūrvaṇikaṉ identity


Valańciyar also Vaḷańciyar, Vaḷaińceyar, Vīra-vaḷańceyar: a medieval South Indian merchant guild that was operating along with Ainūṟṟuvar, or as part of Aiṉūṟṟuvar, which was a South Indian umbrella merchant guild (Tamil, inscriptions, 985 CE, SII, xix, 459; 1020 CE, SII, v, 449; 1150 CE, AVNM, 9, pp. 33-34); Teṉṉilaṅkai-valańciyar: a section of the said merchant guild that was operating in Ilaṅkai or was originating from the Ilaṅkai; literally meaning the Valańciyar of Ilaṅkai in the south. The identity figured in an inscription in Tamil Nadu along with Ańcuvaṇṇam and Maṇikirāmam that were other merchant guilds (Tamil, Tītāṇḍatānapuram inscription, 1269 CE, ARE, 1926-27, p. 93); Balańja: a merchant community that was operating in medieval Andhra, between c. 1300 and 1600 CE; considered as part of Aiyavōlai/ Ainūṟṟuvar (Sundaram, K., Journal of Oriental Research, Madras, XXX, i-iv, 1963); Vīra-balańja-dharma: code of conduct of Balańja (ibid.); Baṇajiga: merchant community (Kannada); Vaṇij: trader (Sanskrit, Rig Vedic, CDIAL 11230); Vaṇija: trader (Sanskrit, lexicons, CDIAL 11231). Note the Ṇ/ Ḷ change
Veḷańda trader, "Vāṇijayā" (Sinhala, Sorata); Veḷańdam-pala: market, place for trading, mart (Sinhala, Clough); Vaṇij, Vaṇija: trader (Sanskrit, CDIAL 11230, 11231); 1. see box on Vaḷańciyar for the Veḷańda word-form and note Ṇ/ Ḷ and J/ D changes; 2. Vilaińar: those who sell, traders (Tamil, Caṅkam diction, Kuṟuntokai, 117: 69; from Vil: (verb) to sell, put on sale (Tami, DED 5421); Bele: price (Kannada, Tulu, DED 5421); Vela: price (Telugu, DED 5421); Viṟka, Vikka: to sell (Tamil, DED 5421); Vikuṇanavā: (verb) to sell (Sinhala, Clough)
Aiṉūṟṟvar also Aiṉṉūṟṟuvar, Aińńūṟṟuvar: literally meaning the 500; a medieval South Indian merchant guild (Tamil, c. 900 CE, AVNM 10, p. 16; 1050 CE, AVNM 2, pp. 6-8); Aiyapoḻil: another term of identity for Aiṉūṟṟuvar; from the place Aiyapoḻil (Aihoḷe) in Karnataka (Tamil, 1142 CE, SII, xiv, 251); Nānā-tēciyt-ticaiyāyirat-taiń-nūṟṟuvar: literally meaning the 500 of the different directions and various countries; an umbrella organisation of various merchant guilds (Tamil, 985 CE, SII, xix, 459); Nāṉku-ticaip-patiṉeṇ-pūmi-nāṉā-tēcit-ticai-āyirat-tainnūṟṟuvar: literally meaning the 500 of the thousand directions, various countries and 18 lands of the four cardinal points; an umbrella organisation of various merchant guilds (Tamil, 1050 CE, AVNM, 2, pp 6-8); Ain-nūru, Aiń-ńūṟu: 500 (Tamil, DED 2826). See columns on Nāṉāṭṭāṉ, Tāvaḷam, Ańcaṇat-tāḻvu, Cittira-mēḻi, Āvaṇam, Vīrakoḍiyāna and Niyaňgama
Ūrvaṇikaṉ probably a section of merchant community, local merchant community or non-urban merchant community; Ūr: village, town, city (Tamil, DED 752); local (Tamil usage); Vaṇikaṉ, Vāṇikaṉ: merchant (Tamil, Puṟanāṉūṟu, 134: 1-2; Cilappatikāram, 2: 76; Tamil Brahmi inscriptions, Mahadevan, p. 676); Vaṇij: trader (Sanskrit, Rig Vedic, CDIAL 11230). See box on Vaḷańciyar.


Vaḷańciyar, as found in Tamil inscriptions dating from c. 10th century CE, is the identity of a medieval South Indian merchant guild. The identity was either associated with or was part of the Ainūṟṟuvar/ Aiyapoḻil guild. The term Vaḷańciyar is sometimes found used as a synonym of Ainūṟṟuvar/ Aiyapoḻil.

It is also noticed that the Vaḷańciyar were sometimes putting on regional identities like Tirunelvēli Vaḷaińceyar (1020 CE), Teṉṉilaṅkai-vaḷańciyar (1269 CE) etc. The latter must be a guild that was either operating in Ilaṅkai or was one that originated in the island and was operating in South India.

A cognate Balańja is found used between 1300 and 1600 CE for a Telugu merchant guild. The members of this guild also called themselves as Ayyāvaḷi Svāmi, indicating Aiyapoḻil (Aihoḷe in Karnataka) connections.

The epithet, Vīra-vaḷańceyar, noticed in Tamil inscriptions (1150 CE) and the code of conduct of the guild getting the term Vīra-balańja-dharma in Telugu, show that military was a constituent part of the merchant guild. Telugu sources note that the regular army of the Balańja merchants was called Mummari-daṇḍa (Mūṉṟu-kai, probably meaning three-pronged regiments, was a term used in Tamil for medieval militaries, including mercantile militaries. An inscription of the 'Mūṉṟu-kai' was recently found in Vaṉṉi also).

While Ainūṟṟuvar and Aiyapoḻil are specific identities, the terms Vaḷańciyar and Balańja in their etymological origin seem to be general identity of merchants that later gained guild identity when associated with the said guilds. Baṇajiga in Kannada generally means merchant community.

Phonetic change patterns in South Asian languages would show that Vaḷańciyar in Tamil, Veḷańda in Sinhala, Balańja in Telugu and Baṇajiga in Kannada are cognates of Vaṇij in Rig Vedic Sanskrit meaning trader (Note the Ṇ/ Ḷ; V/ B; J/ C; J/ D changes and Ń addition).

Significantly, the usage Vaḷańciyar in Tamil is noticed only in the medieval merchant guild inscriptions. It doesn't come in Tamil literary usage, while the terms Vaṇikaṉ and Vāṇikaṉ were in use in Tamil literature and inscriptions since very early times. There is a strong probability that the Vaḷańciyar word-form with the Ṇ > Ḷ change is of Kannada origins, coming with the Aiyapoḻil merchant guild.

Veḷańda in Sinhala, meaning trader, corresponds to Vaṇija in Sanskrit, but in word form it is closer to Vaḷańciyar of the trade guild usage.

On Ainnūṟṟuvar, inscriptions specifically using that term of identity are found in various parts of the island. One inscription is found in Sinhala language too (Indrapala, p. 285). Presence of merchants in the island with the Ainnūṟṟuvar identity continued to 15th century, as could be seen from the Ainnūṟṟuvar Kāḷi inscription found in Kalutara. The term Ainnūṟṟuvar, meaning 'The 500', is of Tamil/ Dravidian etymology (DED 2826).

See other columns for the etymology of Veḷi, Vaḷavu, Goḍa and Paṟṟu.

* * *


Vaḷańciyar:

"Vaḷańciyarum nana tēciyt ticaiyāyirataińńūṟṟuvarum" (985 CE, South Indian Inscriptions, xix, 459)

"வளஞ்சியரும் நானா தேசிய்த் திசையாயிரத்தைஞ்ஞூற்றுவரும்" (985 CE, SII, xix, 459)

Vaḷańciyar and (Nānā-tēci-ticai-āyirattu-aińńūṟṟvar) The 500 of the 1000 directions of various countries

Vīra-vaḷańceyar:

"Veyya cuṭar neṭu vēl vīra vaḷańceyar patineṭṭup paṭṭinamum" (1150 CE, AVNM 9, p. 33-34)

"வெய்ய சுடர் நெடு வேல் வீர வளஞ்செயர் பதினெட்டுப் பட்டினமும்" (1150 CE, AVNM 9, p. 33-34)

The eighteen port cities (a reference meaning numerous cities) of the valorous Vaḷańceyar of long and fiercely shiny spears

* * *


Valańciyaṉ-veḷi is a place in Puthukkudiyiruppu division of Mullaiththeevu district.

Ainūṟṟuvaṉ-vaḷavu is a locality name in Jaffna City, Jaffna district (Balasundaram, p. 52).

Veḷańda-goda is a place in Malimbada division of Matara district. There is another place by the same name in Walasmulla division of Hambantota district.

Ūr-vaṇikaṉ-paṟṟu is in Pachchilaippalli division of Kilinochchi district.

* * *


Some related place names:

Valanciyaṉ: Karaithuraippattu, Mullaiththeevu

Veḷeńdava: Yakkalamulla, Galle




Revised: Sunday, 09 October 2016, 21:34

First published: Saturday, 01 March 2008, 11:22

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