Know the Etymology: 326
Place Name of the Day: Tuesday, 18 February 2014


Thaava'lai, Thawalama, Thaavadi

தாவளை, தவலம, தாவடி
Tāvaḷai, Tavalama, Tāvaṭi

Thaava'lai
Thawalama
Thaavadi


The trade station of merchant guilds

The town or mart of merchants travelling and operating in distant territories

The military camp or cultivation camp


Thaava'lai From Thaava'lam: A mercantile town, settlement or station, maintained by a trade guild or corporate (Tamil, inscriptions, 1050 CE, AVNM, 2, p 6-8); Kadikaith-thaava'lam: permanently constructed and guarded market place or trade centre (Tamil, inscriptions, 1050 CE, AVNM, 2, p 6-8); Vikkarama-kadigai-thaava'lam: A permanent and protected trade centre, named after Vikkarama, and existed as a part of the town, Pathi alias Aipo'lil-veera padda'nam (today's Padaviya): both were guarded by 18-bhumi-veerakkodi, the warrior guards of the mercantile corporate called Aiyaavo'le/ 18-bhumi/ The 500 (Eezham Tamil inscription, c. 1150 CE); Thaava'lam: Lodging, place of residence, town or city of the agricultural tract (Tamil, MTL, Thivaakaram, 5: 108); Town (Tamil, Pingkalam, 4: 179); Encampment of a moving military (Tamil, Villi Paaratham, 32: 9); Thaava'lam-poaduthal: To quarter oneself unnecessarily in another's house (Tamil, MTL); Thaava'lak-kaarar: Traders from distant parts, those who keep oxen for carrying burdens (Tamil, Winslow, MTL). See columns on Padaviya, Veerakkodiyaana, Valagnchiyan-ve'li, Naanaaddaan and Kazhuthaava'lai
Thawalama (singular), Thawalam (plural): Number of oxen laden with merchandize, mart or station on the frontiers for the sale or exchange of commodities (Sinhala)
Thaavadi War camp (Thirumoolar 181); Movement of an invading military (Tamil, inscriptions, SII, vii, 863); Deployment of invading military (Tamil, inscription, 1068 CE, SII, iii, 30); Journey (Tamil, Jaffna Dictionary, MTL); Battle, fight, skirmish (Tamil, Jaffna Dictionary, MTL); Thaavadi-poathal: Making a military expedition (Tamil, MTL, Nannool 51, Mayilainaathar commentary); Thaavadith-thoa'ni: Boat going near the shore to cut out the vessels of an enemy (Tamil, Winslow, MTL); Thaavadam: Lodging, place of residence, equivalent to Thaava'lam (Tamil, Jaffna Dictionary, MTL); Thaavaadi: A ruined tank, the fields of which are cultivated by people who do not live there, but travel from other places (Tamil, Vanni usage, Mayilangkoodal P. Nadarajan, 2012, p. 59)
Thaavu (verb) To jump up, leap, skip over, leap over, cross, spring upon, attack, fly, spread, be luxuriant; (noun) Jumping, leaping, moving, going, galloping (Tamil, DED 3177); Thaavu: Resting place, lodging, shelter, harbour (Tamil, Winslow, MTL); Thaava'lam: Thaavu+a'lam: literally meaning the place to hop, transit, cross etc. (Tamil; a'lam: place, stretch of land); Thaavadi: Thaavu+adi: Literally meaning the location to hop, transit, cross etc. (Tamil; Adi: locative suffix); Dhaava: Act of running (Sanskrit, Pali, CDIAL 6800)


Thaava'lam is a term that was widely used in the Tamil trade guild inscriptions to mean a trading station or township of the umbrella trade corporate called Aiyaavo'le/ Aiyyapozhil/ 18-Bhumi/ The-500/ etc.

Another associated term found in the inscriptions is Kadikaith-thaava'lam, probably meaning a protected mart or market place, as the word Kadikai in Tamil/ Dravidian is related to protection (DED 1127, Subbarayalu 2012, p.196).

The-500 corporate was trading in southern South Asia and in Southeast Asia. They were also sometimes found titled as Naanaa-theasi-thisai-aayiraththu-ainoottuvar, meaning The 500 of every country and of a thousand directions.

By 11th century, the corporate inscriptions used to come out with a formula, that they run 18 cities, 32 harbours and 64 protected trading stations (Kadikaith-thaava'lam).

Various sub guilds of the corporate were mentioned as inmates of a Thaava'lam, where they all maintained the code of conduct of the corporate.

The Thaava'lams were guarded by the corporate's own warrior guards, who had their own guilds. Veerakkodiyaar was one of them.

* * *


The etymology of Thaava'lam is probably connected to the Tamil/ Dravidian root verb Thaavu (DED 3177) and the noun A'lam/ Ka'lam (DED 299, 1376), meaning a place to hop, cross over, transit etc.

As a noun Thaavu itself means a lodging, shelter or harbour in Tamil (Wislow, MTL).

A town in general, or a settlement of the agricultural tract was also called a Thaava'lam, as noted respectively by the old Tamil lexicons, Pingkalam (c. 10th century CE) and Thivaakaram (c. 8th century CE). But inscriptions are specific that Thaava'lam was a township or station maintained by merchants, with caravans and merchants coming and going.

Even after the decline of the medieval trade guilds and their townships by 15th century CE, the usage of the word Thaava'lam seems to have continued to mean a designated place served as a market camp of traders coming from distant places. The practice of traders coming in bullock cart caravans, or coming with oxen and donkeys laden with commodities, continued to early decades of the 20th century.

Winslow's 19th century Tamil dictionary notes Thaava'lak-kaarar as traders from distant parts or those who keep oxen for carrying burdens.

Thawalama in Sinhala, meaning, a number of oxen laden with merchandize, or a mart or station on the frontiers for the sale or exchange of commodities, is obviously a cognate of Thaava'lam in Tamil.

* * *


Thaava'lam and Kadikaith-thaava'lam meaning a trading station in mercantile corporate inscriptions:

“Pathineddup padda'namum muppaththira'ndu vea'laapuramum a'rupaththu:naanku kadikaith thaava'lamum thaava'laththirunthu samaiyath thanmai inithu nadaathirukkin'ra cheddiyum cheddipuththiranum kava'raiyum kaamu'nda suvaamiyu..” (Tamil, inscription, 1050 CE, Aava'nam, 2, pp. 6-8)

“பதினெட்டுப் பட்டணமும் முப்பத்திரண்டு வேளாபுரமும் அறுபத்துநான்கு கடிகைத் தாவளமும் தாவளத்திருந்து சமையத் தன்மை இனிது நடாதிருக்கின்ற செட்டியும் செட்டிபுத்திரனும் கவறையும் காமுண்ட சுவாமியு..” (Tamil, inscription, 1050 CE, Aava'nam, 2, pp. 6-8)

The 18 cities, the 32 Vea'laapuram (harbour towns), the 64 protected market places, and the sub-guilds (of the umbrella corporate called The 500) called Chetti, Chetti-puththirar, Kava'rai, Kaamu'nda Suvaami etc., who are stationed in the mercantile settlements and smoothly implement the code of conduct (of the corporate)


Thaava'lam meaning a village of the agricultural tract:

“…Koaddam…thaava'lam…marutha nilaththu oorp peyar” (Thivaakara Nika'ndu, 5: 108)

“…கோட்டம்…தாவளம்…மருத நிலத்து ஊர்ப் பெயர்” (திவாகர நிகண்டு, 5: 108)

Koaddam, thaava'lam etc., mean a village of the agricultural tract


Thaava'lam meaning a general name for township:

“…Thaava'lam…puramea nakarap pothup peyar aakum” (Pingkala Nika'ndu 4: 179)

“…தாவளம்…புரமே நகரப் பொதுப் பெயர் ஆகும்” (பிங்கல நிகண்டு 4: 179)

Thaava'lam, puram etc., are general names for town


Thaava'lam meaning a camp:

“Cheanai tharippu a'ravea tham thaava'lam uttana” (Villi Paaratham, 32: 9)

“சேனை தரிப்பு அறவே தம் தாவளம் உற்றன” (வில்லி பாரதம், 32: 9)

The military, without stopping, reached its camp

* * *


Thaavadi and Thaava'lam are etymologically related words coming from the root Thaavu, but in usage the shades of meaning were different, the former was used in the context of military camps or in the movement of an invading military while the latter was used to mean a lodging or station of travelling traders.

MTL cites Jaffna Dictionary in equating Thaavadam with Thaava'lam, in meaning a lodging or residence.

Thaavadi could either be a cognate of Thaava'lam, by D/ L interchange, or it could have come from the components Thaavu+adi; either meaning 'feet on move' (Adi: foot, DED 72), or 'the location for lodging', as Thaavu itself is lodging and Adi is locative suffix.

In Vanni, the term Thaavaadi means paddy fields cultivated under ruined tanks, where people don't live, but come from another place just to cultivate, records Mayilankoodal P. Nadarajan (Thinakaran, 24-03-1963).

The place name Thaavadi discussed in this column could have come from a military camp that might have existed there in the historical times, or it could have come from the location serving a lodging in the past for people who came to cultivate the fields of the just adjacent Nanthaavil tank.

* * *


Thaavadi meaning encampment of parties at war:

“Moovadi thaa en'raanum…piramanum thaavadi idduth thalaippu eythumaa'rea” (Thirumoolar 181)

“மூவடி தா என்றானும்…பிரமனும் தாவடி இட்டுத் தலைப்பு எய்துமாறே” (திருமூலர் 181)

The one who asked for three feet of land (Vish'nu), and Brahma, laid out their battlefield camps to engage in war


Thaavadi meaning the passage of a military:

“Chakkarakkoaddaththappu'raththa'lavu meavarunthaanaith thaavadi cheluththi” (1068 CE, SII, iii, 30)

சக்கரக்கோட்டத்தப்புறத்தளவு மேவருந்தானைத் தாவடி செலுத்தி (1068 CE, SII, iii, 30)

Conducting the march of the undefeatable military beyond (the place called) Chakkarak-koaddam

* * *


Thaava'lai is a place near Vara'ni in Thenmaraadchi division of Jaffna district. It is combined with another village called Iyattaalai and is known in the official records as Thaava'lai–Iyattaalai. It is a historical place, located adjacent to an extensive archaeological site, known today as Kalva'lai (Koaddai-vaasal-pi'l'laiyaar koayiladi), where a hoard of Roman coins, datable to 4th century CE, and archaeological remains of the following centuries have been found in the 1980s.

Thawalama today is the headquarters of a division by its name in the Galle district

Thaavadi is a junction location on the highway between Kokkuvil and Koa'ndaavil in the Nalloor division of Jaffna district. The location also faces a large pond, called Nanthaavil and its cultivation fields.

* * *


Some related place names:

Thawalam-pitiya: The plain where market of travelling traders is held; Mirigama division, Gampaha district

Thawalan-thenna: The high ground plain where market of travelling traders is held; Panvila division, Kandy district

Thawalan-koya: Thawalang-oya: The river (side) where market of travelling traders is held; Ukuwala division, Matale district

Thawalama-mookalana: The forest of the trade-guild town; Thawalama division, Galle district. Mooka'laana: Large jungle, forest (Sinhala); Probably related to the root Mu meaning old and Kæle meaning forest (Sinhala); Muthaiyal: Wild jungle, ancient forest (Tamil, DED 4954); Muthu-kaadu: literally meaning old forest, cremation ground (Tamil)

Thawalu-vila: The pond or tank, in the fields of which, Thawaalu paddy is cultivated; Ambalantota division, Hambantota district. Thawaalu: A kind of paddy (Sinhala)

Kalu-thaava'lai: Kazhu-thaava'lai: The market place of travelling traders in the grassland; or the cultivation village in the grassland; Ka'luvaagnchikkudi division, Batticaloa district

Thawalam-pola: The market of travelling traders; or the open place where the market of travelling traders is held; Uva Paranagama division, Badulla district

Thawalan-halmillewa: A combination of two place names: Thawalam and Halmilla-wewa: The town of the trade guild + The tank of Halmilla trees; Horowpothana division, Anuradhapura district

First published: Tuesday, 18 February 2014, 06:53

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