Know the Etymology: 8
Place Name of the Day: Friday, 10 March 2017


Cammān-tuṟai, Hampan-toṭa

சம்மாந்துறை, ஹம்பன்தொ[ட்]ட
Cammān-tuṟai, Hampan-toṭa

Cammāṉ+tuṟai
Hampan+toṭa


The port frequented by Campāṉ/ Hampan type of vessels

Cammāṉ from Campāṉ: a kind of sailboat or sailing ship (Tamil); skiff, a type of vessel (Tamil, MTL, Pañcarattiṉat Tiruppukaḻ); from San-Pan: Chinese or Chinese modelled Southeast Asian sailboats/ cargo vessels (Chinese); Muslim ships were also often called by the same term; Campāṉ-ōṭṭi: master of a skiff, pilot (Tamil, MTL, Winslow); Campāṉi: cavalry soldiers sent in ships (Tamil, inscription, 1435 CE, SII, vii, 778); Tampāṉ: large cargo boat (Tamil, inscription, 1524 CE, TAS, vi, 128; note the C/ T change)
Hambāna (singular), Hambān (plural): large boat, Malabar vessel, dhoney (Sinhala); from San-Pan: (Chinese, S/ H change, see box on Campāṉ); Hambān-kārayā: boatman, one who voyages in a dhoney, coast Moorman (Sinhala)


Campāṉ or Sampāṉ in Tamil and Hambān in Sinhala (S/ H change), mean a kind of sailboat or sailing ship.

From the name one could relate it to the Chinese-modelled San-Pan that was either coming directly from China or was used by Southeast Asians who had adopted the Chinese model.

Direct presence of Chinese vessels and even fleets in this part of South Asia has been recorded from the beginnings of 15th century. The word Campāṉ in Tamil literature and inscriptions also appears from that time onwards. An alternative form Tampāṉ (C/ T change) could also be noted in Tamil inscriptions.

Hambān meaning a Malabar (Tamil cum Malayalam) vessel and Hambān-kārayā meaning a Muslim in Sinhala, might have come from the wide use of this type of vessel by Tamil Muslim and Malay Muslim traders of that time.

* * *


Campāṉ meaning a sea-going vessel:

"குரை கடலுக் கொரு சம்பானாய் வரு வடி வேலா" (பஞ்சரத்தினத் திருப்புகழ், 15th century CE)

"Kurai kaṭaluk koru campāṉāy varu vaṭi velā" (Paňcarattinat Tiruppukaḻ, 15th century CE)

The God Murukan who comes (to his devotees) as a ship (saviour) in a roaring sea


Campāṉi meaning cavalry soldiers coming in ships:

"இழம் அழிக்கை காரியம் ஆக சம்பானி வெனயமைத்த குதிரை மனித்தர்" (Tamil inscription, 1435 CE, South Indian Inscriptions, VII, 778)

"Iḻak aḻikkai kāriyam āka campāṉi venayamaitta kutirai manittar" (Tamil inscription, 1435 CE, South Indian Inscriptions, VII, 778)

The cavalry people who were assigned with the work of going in ships for the task of conquering Izham (Eezham)


The alternative form Tampāṉ meaning a commercial cargo boat or ship:

"ஏற்று இறக்கு உரு ஒன்றுக்கு பணம் ஒன்றாகவும் விலை விற்ற தம்பானுக்கு பணம் ஒன்றாகவும்" (Tamil inscription, 1524 CE, Travancore Archaeological Series, VI, 128)

"Ēṟṟu iṟakku uru oṉṟukku paṇam oṉṟākavum vilai viṟṟa tampāṉukku paṇam oṉṟākavum" (Tamil inscription, 1524 CE, Travancore Archaeological Series, VI, 128)

One Paṇam of money (as tax) for one Uru, which is the export-import type of vessel, and one Paṇam of money for the Tampāṉ type of vessel that has sold out its commodities

* * *


Cammān-tuṟai is a divisional headquarters in Amparai district. There is another Cammān-tuṟai in the Tampalakāmam Bay of the Kinniya division of Trincomalee district (One Inch Sheet). The bay has two opposite and adjacent ports, Kappal-tuṟai and Cammān-tuṟai, indicating that Kappal and Campāṉ were different types of vessels.

Hamban-toṭa is the headquarters of the district by its name in the Southern Province.

* * *


Related place names:

Cāmaṇan-tuṟai: a coastal locality in Alvāy, Vadamaratchi Southwest, Jaffna. Cāmaṇan: probably related to Cammāṉ/ Campāṉ


Revised: Friday, 10 March 2017, 21:39

First published: Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 01:00

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