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A tribute to bravery of Chola period guards

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The Chola-period Tamil inscription found at Malampatti near Tiruchi.
The Chola-period Tamil inscription found at Malampatti near Tiruchi.

S. Ganesan

Further research could throw light on the

socio-economic activities of merchant sub-groups

TIRUCHI: A rare Tamil inscription of the merchant community of the Chola period, dating back to 11th century AD, has been found at Malampatti village near Thuvarankurichi, about 60 km from here. The inscription on a slab that was worshipped as ‘Natta Kallu Ayyanar’ by the locals was found by M.Nalini, Reader, Seethalakshmi Ramaswami College, and research scholar of the Dr.M.Rajamanikkanar Centre for Historical Research, Tiruchi, during a field study conducted in and around Thuvarankurichi recently.

The slab, about four-and-a-half feet in height, was found in a bushy terrain. Smeared in ash (thiruneeru) and vermilion (kumkum), the slab has inscriptions on all four sides with deep cut letters.

Since it was worshipped by the villagers, the inscription had been well preserved, according to R.Kalaikkovan, Centre Director.

The 88-line inscription has been created by two merchant sub-groups, ‘Kodumbalur Veerapattnam’ and ‘Madurai Adikittanam,’ from the ‘Thisai Ayirattu Ainurruvar,’ a distinguished mercantile community of the period. It was to honour the bravery exhibited by private guards owned by traders to protect themselves from robbers.

The inscription records guards killing two persons, who were probably causing trouble to the trading community. One of the two, Viran Nadalvan, was killed by eight guards. The other, Agappinji, was killed by 14 guards.

The inscription records the names of all the 22 men who were engaged in the fight.

Some of these private guards had the names of Chola Kings such as Rajaraja and Rajendra as prefix to their names. Suffixes such as ‘Kandali,’ ‘Kavarai,’ ‘Velaikkaran,’ ‘Singam,’ ‘Valangai,’ and ‘Chetti,’ reveal the titles of the sub-divisions that existed in the cavalry.

Though inscriptions recording activities of such cavalry forces of merchant communities have been found elsewhere, this inscription is important, as it mentions the names of the guards involved.

Further research could throw light on the socio-economic activities of the merchant sub-groups, Dr.Kalaikkovan said.

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