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Updated: April 27, 2014 02:06 IST

Copper plate dating back to 1655 CE found

T. S. Subramanian
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P. Mathiazhagan with the copper plate, near Usilampatti, Madurai district. Photo: K.T. Gandhirajan
The Hindu
P. Mathiazhagan with the copper plate, near Usilampatti, Madurai district. Photo: K.T. Gandhirajan

It was issued by Thirumalai Nayak, who ruled Madurai from 1623 CE to 1659, and is now in possession of his descendent

A copper plate charter issued by Thirumalai Nayak, who ruled Madurai from 1623 CE to 1659, on his donating land to a person belonging to the Piramalai Kallar community, has been found in possession of that person’s descendants.

The charter is with P. Mathiazhagan (44) of Vellaiamlaipatti village in Tamil Nadu’s Madurai district, who belongs to the lineage of Pillai Thevan, who received the grant of land from Thirumalai Nayak in 1655 CE. The plate, 18 cm long and 12.5 cm broad, has an inscription in Tamil on both its sides that talks about the king’s gift. The script runs to 28 lines on one side and 11 on the other.

On being told that a copper plate was in the possession of Mathizagan, a farmer, a team comprising K.T. Gandhirajan, who has discovered several rock art sites in Tamil Nadu, A.K. Alagarsamy, P. Mohan Kumaramangalam and Paraman reached the house of Mathiazhagan at Vellaimalaipatti village and he showed it to them. Mathiazhagan’s family, unaware of the historical value of the copper plate charter, was safekeeping it in a trunk, taking it out once a year and worshipping it, said Mohan Kumaramangalam.

The inscription talks about how Pillai Thevan of Urappanoor village met Thiumalai Nayak with gifts of “a parakeet figurine made of gold, and silver and gold flowers.” This gladdened the king, who donated gold and also wet and dry land to Pillai Thevan, and told him to be the kaval ambalam (protector of the Urappanoor village and the surrounding area). The charter specifically mentions the boundaries on the four sides of the land gifted. Manickam Achari inscribed the plate, it says.

According to Mr. Gandhirajan, the plate can be dated to June 1655 from the Tamil year, Manmatha, and the month, Avani, and the date mentioned in the charter.

Another copper plate, found recently in the area, also talked about Thirumalai Nayak talked about his gifting land to Adhi Thirumalai Pinna Thevar of Keezh Urappanoor village, he said. This plate and the latest discovery with a similar charter, indicated that Thirumalai Nayak, perhaps, wanted to forge an understanding with the martial Piramalai Kallar community that lived in the area, Mr. Gandhirajan added.

Both Mohan Kumaramangalam, a schoolteacher, and Alagarsamy, a college teacher, said several copper plate charters, issued by Thirumalai Nayak, have had been found in the area.

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