Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Sugarcane in Sangam Literature

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Sugarcane is a tall perennial, thick-stemmed, colourful, soft and juicy, plant growing erect even up to 5 to 6 meters. Botanically the genus Saccharum is in the family Poaceae, sub-family Panicoidae, in the major group Angiosperms (Flowering plants). "In 1753, Linnaeus established this genus Saccharum along with the other crop plants in his master-piece Species Plantarum." There are around 200 species under genus Saccharum. Six species have been identified in the genus Saccharum viz., S. officinarum, S. barberi, S. sinense, S. robustum, S. edule and S. spontaneum. Saccharum officinarum is the type species of sugarcane. Approximately 70% of the sugar produced globally comes from S. officinarum and hybrids using this species. "The word saccharum owes its origin to the Sanskrit word 'sarkara' or 'sakkara' meaning sugar. This became 'sukkar' in Arabic and 'Sakharon' in Greek."

History of Sugarcane is 8000 years old. When people migrating from the Indochina area to New Guinea in the South Pacific during ancient times they discovered wild sugar cane. New Guinean farmers domesticated different species of sugarcane i.e., Saccharum edule and Saccharum officinarum.  The crop was probably first cultivated in the island of New Guinea. Originally, people chewed sugarcane raw to extract its sweetness. From about 8000 B.C. on, people migrated from New Guinea to the nearby Solomon Islands, the New Hebrides and then to New Caledonia taking a cultivated form of sugarcane with them. About 2000 years later sugarcane reached Indonesia, the Philippines, and then Northern India. From Northern India sugarcane species (Saccharum barberi) spread to China around 800 B.C. Sugarcane has a very long history of cultivation in the Indian sub-continent. The earliest reference to it from Atharva Veda (1500 - 800 B.C.). The text is shown below:

“This plant is born of honey, with honey do we dig for thee. Of honey thou art begotten, do thou make us full of honey!
At the tip of my tongue may I have honey, at my tongue’s root the sweetness of honey! In my power alone shalt thou then be, thou shalt come up to my wish!
Sweet as honey is my entrance, sweet as honey my departure. With my voice do I speak sweet as honey, may I become like honey!
I am sweeter than honey, fuller of sweetness than licorice. Mayest thou, without fail, long for me alone, (as a bee) for a branch full of honey!”
I have surrounded thee with a clinging sugarcane, to remove aversion, so that thou shalt not be averse to me!”

The word "Chakara" was frequently referred in many Sanskrit texts. Ayurvedic authors Charaka and Susruta mentioned the sugarcane in many places. Susruta samhita listed 12 varieties. The best of which were called Vamshika (with thin reeds) and Paundraka (which came from the Bengal region).
The sugarcane bow and the five flower arrows are described as the weapon of the god Kamadeva.

Sugarcane was originally grown for the sole purpose of chewing. Extraction of sugarcane juice and preparation of sugar by boiling the juice commenced from India. during first million B.C. According to Jain legend their first Thirthankara Rishabadeva (Adi Nath) was the one who taught the people of extraction of sugarcane juice. Machines (jiantra) for crushing sugarcanes are mentioned in a description of the winter season in the Upamitibhava prapancha katha, a Jain literature in Sanskrit..
The sugarcane plant and the cane-sugar are frequently mentioned in the Institutes of Manu. The earliest known production of crystalline sugar began in northern India around 400 B.C. Indus Valley civilization shows evidence on their knowledge about sugarcane and sugar extraction. Indus Valley people used crystallized sugar. .The sugar technology was commercially perfected around 700 A.D.

Sugarcane was also found in Persia in 510 B.C. and the Persian military expedition records have information about sugarcane. Nearchos, the admiral of Alexander the Great also confirms the same.
Vedic Aryans in India cultivated barley, rice and sugarcane.

Tamil Sangam Literature

Sangam literature abounds in reference to the sugarcane.  Agriculture was the main occupation of Sangam Tamils and importance of agriculture in Tamilakam was well recognized through Eight anthologies and Ten idylls. There was a steady progress in the reclamation of forests and wastelands during Sangam era. Chola king Karikala is considered as the pioneer in ancient Tamilakam to initiate the task of reclamation. In Pattinappalai poet Kadiyalur Urithirankannanar vividly describe the act of reclamation of king Karkalan.

காடு கொன்று நாடாக்கிக்
குளம் தொட்டு வளம் பெருக்கி 
(Pattinappalai 283 - 284 poet Kadiyalur Urithirankannanar)
Karikalan destroyed forests and made them habitable, dug ponds, expanded his capital city of Uranthai,

The fertility of the lands watered by the Cauvery is a recurring theme of Tamil poets. Cultivation was apparently carried on in the time tested methods by the peasants of Tamilakam. The natural forest produce of Pari's principality included bamboo, rice, jack-f ruit, the valli root, and honey. Ragi, sugarcane, pepper, turmeric and cotton were cultivated. Sugarcane was cultivated in the prosperous 'Marutam' fields surrounded by water as a wet crop along with the paddy.

ஆர் குருகு உறங்கும் நீர் சூழ் வள வயல்
கழனிக் கரும்பின் சாய்ப் புறம் ஊர்ந்து
பழன யாமை பசு வெயில் கொள்ளும்
நெல்லுடை மறுகின் நன்னர் ஊர
Akananuru 306, Mathurai Koolavankian Seethalai Sathanar,
 What the heroine’s friend said to the unfaithful hero, refusing him entry: Oh man from the fine town, where a heron eats and sleeps on a mango tree whose tender sprouts gently rubs its body, and a field tortoise rests in the warm sun on the side where sugarcanes are leaning in the prosperous field surrounded by water!

Athiyaman Neduman Anji was one of the most powerful Tamil Velir cheiftain of the Sangam period. Poet Avvaiyar was his court poet. It is established from Avvaiyar's Purananuru poem 99 that Atiyars have introduced sugarcane cultivation in the Tamil country.

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Athiyaman Neduman Anji and Poet Avvaiyar PC: Wikimedia
அமரர்ப் பேணியும் ஆவுதி அருத்தியும்
அரும் பெறல் மரபின் கரும்பு இவண் தந்தும்
நீர் அக இருக்கை ஆழி சூட்டிய
தொல் நிலை மரபின் நின் முன்னோர் போல
Purananuru 99 Poet Avvaiyar sang to Athiyaman Neduman Anji
Like your ancestors of ancient tradition who served the gods and offered oblations to secure the gift that is hard to obtain, sugarcane for this land,

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Athiyaman neduman Anji Introduced Sugarcane. Museum @ Dharmapuri
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...  அந்தரத்து
அரும் பெறல் அமிழ்தம் அன்ன
கரும்பு இவண் தந்தோன் பெரும் பிறங்கடையே.
Purananuru 392 Poet Avvaiyar sang to Athiyaman Neduman Anji's son Poruttu Elini
that great heir (Atiyan) who brought us sugarcane, precious to obtain like divine nectar, from the land beyond.

கரும்பு நடு பாத்தி அன்ன
பெருங்களிற்று அடி வழி நிலைஇய நீரே.
Kurunthokai 262: 7 - 8, Cheraman Palai Padiya Perunkadunko,
Elephant foot prints are compared to like the garden beds (பாத்தி) of sugarcane planting holes

இலங்கு பூங்கரும்பின் ஏர் கழை இருந்த
வெண் குருகு நரல வீசும்
Akananuru 13, Perunthalai Sāthanar,
white herons call from the beautiful sugarcanes with bright flowers

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Thick - stemmed white flowers of tall sugarcane
... ... ... .... .....    ......   அகல் வயல்
நீடு கழைக் கரும்பின் கணைக்கால் வான் பூக்
கோடைப் பூளை யின் வாடையொடு துயல்வர
Akananuru 217:3-5, Kalarkeeran Eyitriyanar,
In the vast fields, thick- stemmed, white flowers of tall sugarcane sway in the northerly winds like the poolai flowers of summer.

இரும் பல் மெல் அணை ஒழிய கரும்பின்
வேல் போல் வெண் முகை விரியத் தீண்டி
Natrinai 366:7-8, Mathurai Eelathu Poothan Thevanar,
The cold northern wind blows, opening the spear-like white buds of sugarcanes,

The Chola wet land received water from Cauvery river and water irrigation was abundant to raise paddy. They have also cultivated sugarcane around the paddy fields. The sugarcane provided a fence to the paddy field. It is also learned that the Chola farmers cultivated double crop.  

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Sugarcane flower கரும்பின் வெண்பூ
அலங்கு கதிர்க் கனலி நால்வயின் தோன்றினும்
இலங்கு கதிர் வெள்ளி தென்புலம் படரினும்
அம் தண் காவிரி வந்து கவர்பு ஊட்டத்
தோடு கொள் வேலின் தோற்றம் போல
ஆடு கண் கரும்பின் வெண்பூ நுடங்கும்
Purananuru 35: 6 - 9   Poet Vellaikudi Nakanār sang to Cholan Kulamutrathu Thunjiya Killivalavan
Your country alone is truly a country where lovely, cool Kāviri flows and feeds the land, and appearing like spears, dancing flowers of sugarcanes with nodes sway!

செய் தொழிலான் வியர்ப்பு அறியாமை
ஈத்தோன் எந்தை இசை தனது ஆக
வயலே நெல்லின் வேலி நீடிய கரும்பின்
பாத்திப் பன்மலர்ப் பூத் ததும்
Purananuru 386: 8 - 11   Poet Kovur Kilar sang to Cholan Kulamutrathu Thunjiya Killivalavan
The Chola king's fields are full of flowers that bloom among the patches of sugarcane that are fences for the paddy fields,

முரசுடைச் செல்வர் புரவிச் சூட்டும்
மூட்டுறு கவரி தூக்கியன்ன
செழுஞ்செய் நெல்லின் சேயரிப் புனிற்றுக் கதிர்
மூதா தின்றல் அஞ்சிக் காவலர்
பாகல் ஆய் கொடிப் பகன்றையொடு பரீஇக்
காஞ்சியின் அகத்துக் கரும்பு அருத்தி யாக்கும்
Akananuru 156: 1 - 6   Poet Avur Moolankilar 
Oh man from the town with sweet streams, where thick, fine paddy grows, high like lifted tufts adorning the horses owned by rich kings with drums, and field guards protect the tender paddy grains from old cows by tying them to kānji trees with ropes made from the vines of beautiful bittermelon and pakandrai, and feeding them sugarcane!

In Purananuru poem 42: 13 -14  (அறைநர் கரும்பிற் கொண்ட தேனும்)  Arainar or the person responsible for cutting sugarcane and also responsible for extracting sap from the sugarcane stems. Puranauru poem 322: 7 - 10 describes vividly the mechanical equipment to make sugarcane juice. Please note the use of term  (எந்திரம்) for sugarcane press. The farmers also discovered how to crystallize sugar,probably carried out through the simple process of crushing cut-pieces of cane by a heavy weight and boiling the juice extracted and stirring until solids formed.These solids being of uneven shapes and sizes were called jaggery 

கரும்பின் எந்திரம் சிலைப்பின் அயலது
இருஞ்சுவல் வாளை பிறழும் ஆங்கண்
தண் பணை ஆளும் வேந்தர்க்குக்
கண்படை ஈயா வேலோன் ஊரே.
(Purananuru 322: 7 - 10 Poet Avur Kilar,)
In the wasteland city, whose leader is a spearman who grants no sleep to kings of cool cities where the loud sounds of a sugarcane press in the hard land cause a vālai fish with a thick neck to leap nearby.

கரும்பின் எந்திரம் களிற்று எதிர் பிளிற்றும்
தேர் வண் கோமான் தேனூர் அன்ன இவள்
நல் அணி நயந்து நீ துறத்தலின்
பல்லோர் அறியப் பசந்தன்று நுதலே.
Ainkurunuru 55, Poet Orampokiyar, 
What the heroine’s friend said to the hero: You desired my pretty friend who resembles Thenur, where the king donates chariots, and sugarcane presses roar like bull elephants. Since you abandoned her, her forehead has become pale, and many have noticed it.

மழை விளையாடும் கழை வளர் அடுக்கத்து
அணங்குடை யாளி தாக்கலின் பல உடன்
கணம் சால் வேழம் கதழ்வுற்றாங்கு
எந்திரம் சிலைக்கும் துஞ்சாக் கம்பலை
விசயம் அடூஉம் புகை சூழ் ஆலைதொறும்
கரும்பின் தீம்சாறு விரும்பினிர் மிசைமின்
 (Perumpanatruppadai 257-262 Poet Kadiyalur Urithirankannanar king Thondaimān Ilanthiraiyan)
Sugarcane Juice in the Sugar Mills: The unending, roaring sounds of equipment in every sugarmill where sugarcane juice is boiled, surrounded by smoke, are like the screams of many
elephants that are attacked by an āliin the bamboo growing mountains where clouds play.   There you can drink sweet sugarcane juice as much as you desire.

The fertility of the soil of Cauvery delta was the pet theme of poets of Sangam era.  The land of Chola had plenty of water for irrigation and was known as 'Punal Nadu' (the land well irrigated). In the idylls of Pattinappalai, poet Kadiyalur Urithirankannanar speaks about the prosperity of agricultural lands in Kaviripoompattinam, the capital city of Chola land ruled by king Karikala is thus described vividly:  

வான் பொய்ப்பினும் தான் பொய்யா
மலைத் தலைய கடல் காவிரி
புனல் பரந்து பொன் கொழிக்கும் 
விளைவு அறா வியன் கழனி 
கார்க் கரும்பின் கமழ் ஆலைத்
தீத் தெறுவின் கவின்
வாடி நீர்ச் செறுவின் நீள் நெய்தல்
பூச்சாம்பும் ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
(Pattinappalai 1 - 12, Kadiyalur Urithirankannanar king Cholan Karikalan)
Kaviri’s Pride: Kaviri, which starts in the mountains and ends in the ocean, does not fail. Its flowing water spreads and showers abundant prosperity. There are continuous yields from wide fields. Fragrant smells waft from sugar mills and heat from their fires wilt the waterlilies in nearby fields, making them lose their beauty.

பொங்கழி ஆலைப் புகையொடும் பரந்து
மங்குல் வானத்து மலையிற் றோன்றும்
Silappatikaram Nadukan Kathai  150 - 152
The smoke of sugarcane pressing factory spreads around the mountain heap of straw and appear like the dark cloud.

  1. Adhiyaman Neduman Anci Wikipedia
  2. Agricultural Practices as gleaned from the Tamil Literature of the Sangam Age. Srinivasan TM. Indian Journal of History of Science. 51.2.1 (2016). 167 - 169pp.  http://www.insa.nic.in/writereaddata/UpLoadedFiles/IJHS/Vol51_2016_2_1_Art01.pdf
  3. History of Sugar http://www.sugarhistory.net/who-made-sugar/history-of-sugar/
  4. Sugarcane Wikipedia
  5. Sugarcane : Classification http://agropedia.iitk.ac.in/content/sugarcane
  6. Sugarcane: History and Cultivation of Sugarcane http://www.biologydiscussion.com/economic-botany/sugarcane/sugarcane-history-and-cultivation-of-sugarcane/52864
  7. Sugar History Willem H. Kampen http://www.lsuagcenter.com/portals/communications/publications/agmag/archive/2002/fall/sugarcane-history
  8. The Sugarcane Bow. Phil Hine. http://enfolding.org/wikis-4/tantra-wikiwikis-4tantra-wiki/tantra_essays/the-sugarcane-bow/
  9. The Sugarcane Mystery: Indus valley and the Ikshvaku Dynasty. Tamil and Vedas. https://tamilandvedas.com/2011/11/19/the-sugarcane-mystery-indus-valley-and-the-ikshvaku-dynasty/
  10. What is Sugarcane? History of Sugar Cane http://www.chewingcane.com/sugarcane_history.html
  11. பண்டைத் தமிழ் இலக்கியங்களில் கரும்பு. வெ பெருமாள்சாமி http://www.valaitamil.com/old-tamil-literature-is-sugarcane_9464.html

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Kolli Hills: Ancient Hill of Valvil Ori, a Sangam Chieftain

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Kolli Hills (கொல்லி மலை), the "Mountains of Death," is a small mountain range located in Kollimalai taluk, Namakkal district, Tamil Nadu, India. Most parts of the Kolli hills are located in Namakkal district and few parts are situated in Tiruchirapalli district. The Kolli Hills forms part of the Eastern Ghats. It is also forming part of the Trichy & Namakkal Forest Division of Tamil Nadu. The geographical coordinates of Kolli mountain ranges are 10°12' - 11°7'N latitude and 76° - 77°56'E longitude and the hill is 305 m (1000 feet) high from sea level and spans an area of 280 sq.km. It is located 24 km towards east from Namakkal, 27.4 km from Rasipuram, 40 km from Karur, 53 km from Salem, 67 km from Attur, 107 km from Tiruchirapalli, 200 km from Coimbatore, 258 km from Banagluru and 331 km from Chennai. There are several villages located in this hill range. The postal head office is Semmedu PIN code 637411 and the village comes under Valavanthi Nadu Panchayat.  This popular village in Kolli hills has few shops, hotels, primary health center and telephone exchange. Also there is a statue of Valvil Ori, renowned Sangam chieftain. Namagiripettai, Thammampatti, Namakkal and Rasipuram are the nearby towns to Kolli Hills.

Tourist Attractions

Kolli Hills is an unspoilt , unknown Hill station with a pleasant cool climate which never rises above 30ºC or falls below 13ºC.  It is one of the few places that still retains its natural beauty and is untouched by commercial activities and exploitation. Located on the Eastern Ghats, Kolli Hills offers the most splendid of the surrounding greenery. It is an ideal nature's retreat for tourists and locals. It has 72 hair pen bends to reach the top of the hills. To enjoy the salubrious climate plan a holiday to this nature’s destination soon.

The Kollihills is connected by road and you can easily reach there from Namakkal or Salem or Attur. Nowadays the Bus service is provided up to Arappaleeswarar Temple. BSNL (earlier DOT) established the first Telecommunication networks (LDPCO) in 1977 and afterwards the Telecom facilities are continuously expanded depending upon the requirements at Kolli hills.

Kolli Hills attractions include the spectacular Agasagangai water falls, Arappaleeswarar temple, and Ettukkai Amman temple. The hill also has spectacular view points and the visitors should not miss while at this hills. They include Belukurichi tract, Hairpin Bend view points at 34, 35, 37, Masilla falls, Namma Falls, Boat House and State Botanical Garden. Get clear views of valley side at Sirumalai View Point, Selur Wireless view point, Seekuparai viewpoint and Binnam View Point. Other favorite destinations could be the ancient ruins of Britisher Bungalow, Wood House & Jain statue and Puranikadu Sat Dharma sangam ashram

Agasagangai Waterfalls PC: Wikimedia
Agasagangai: Agasagangai, the waterfall of the Aiyaru river, is truly the spectacular sight as the water cascades down from 300 feet, covering all around. The visitor needs to climb down the 1000 and odd steps along the mountain edge leading to the waterfalls. It is very close to Arapaleeswarar temple.

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Arappaleeswarar Temple PC: Dinamalar
Arapaleeswarar temple: The Arapaleeswarar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva,  is popularly believed to have been built by Valvil Ori around first or second century A.D. The temple is located in Periyakoviloor close to Agasagangai waterfall. The temple bear inscriptions dating back to the Chola period. Megalithic burial site was also discovered closer to the temple.

Siddha Caves: It is widely believed that Tamil Siddhars (yogic saints) dwell in this hill. They are known for their alchemy and knowledge over medicinal herbs. Some of the important herbs found in this hill include Jothippul (ஜோதிப்புல்), Saynthadum Pavai (சாய்ந்தாடும் பாவை), Amala (black species) (கருநெல்லி), Red Aloe vera (சிவப்பு கற்றாழை), Black Banana (கருவாழை), Red Myrobalan (சிவப்புக் கடுக்காய்), Roma Virutcham (ரோம விருட்சம்) etc.,The caves of Bogar and Agastya are situated near the Agasagangai waterfalls, while Korakka Siddha and Kalaanginatha Siddhais deep inside the forest area

Semmedu: Popularly  known village to locals and is located on the main road leading to hill summit. At Semmedu the state government organizes Valvil Ori Cultural and Tourism Festival in August. The festival is being organized during August, since people from 16 villages used to assemble together to celebrate Adi (Tamil month) festival during Valvil Ori's rule.

Vaasaloorpatti: An important village on the main road. The village houses the Government Fruit Farm. is located. Paddy varieties are cultivated in the valley and a variety of hybrid and native fruits such as banana, jack fruit, oranges, coffee, pepper and spices are grown on the slopes here.

Solakkadu: Solakkadu is another important village and one of the highest points in the hills and is. located on the main road leading to hill summit.  The spectacular viewpoint inside the Highways Bungalow premises is worth visiting. 
Kollippavai “Maiden of death”

Sangam literature vividly depicts the lofty peaks of Kolli hills covered with clouds. Due to abundant rainfall Kolli Hill is blessed with fragrant flowers like iruvatchi, jasmine  and kanthal.  Kolli Hills is known for the special variety of paddy grown here.

Kolli Hills is believed to have by Kollipavai ("Maiden of death"), the local deity. The legend states that the sages chose Kolli hills for a peaceful place to do their penance. Despite, the demons marched aggressively to the hills to interrupt the penance. The sages invoked the goddess Kollipavai to save their rituals. The goddess became ferocious and annihilated the demons. The goddess Kollipavai is still being worshiped here as Ettukai Amman by the people in Kolli hills and her smile is revered by the locals. Ettukai Amman Temple is an ancient temple located four km from Kolli Hills. The small temple, a palm leaf hut not protected by doors, attracts numerous pilgrims on Amavasai or no moon days. The idol appear with eight hands and hence the name  Ettu Kai amman (Goddess with eight hands). The ideal is often covered with sandal paste to cool the ferociousness.

ettukai-amman-temple.jpg (368×364)
Ettukkai Amman Temple PC: Hindu Blog
Sangam literature and Silappatikaram have references about this deity. Kuruntokai poem 89 refers Kolli-Kutavarai  (கொல்லிக் குட வரை), a mountain slope located on western side of Kolli Hills. Kutamalai (குடமலை) means western side mountain. There was an amazing painting of Kollippavai drawn on the face of the rock. Also there was a crystal clear fountain nearby, wherein bluish Kuvalai (blue waterlily) flower just in blossom.

பெரும் பூண் பொறையன் பேஎமுதிர் கொல்லிக்
கருங்கண் தெய்வம் குட வரை எழுதிய
நல் இயல் பாவை அன்ன... ...
Kurunthokai 89: 4 - 7, Paranar, 
What the heroine’s friend said to her, as the hero listened nearby: My friend with delicate features, like the fine goddess, painted by a fierce, ancient, black-eyed god on the west side of Kolli Mountain
of Poraiyan with heavy jewels! (Poraiyan is a name used for the Chera kings).

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... குட்டுவன்
குட வரைச் சுனைய மா இதழ்க் குவளை
Natrinai 105: 7 - 8, Poet Mudathirumaran,
What the hero said to his heart: The dark-petaled, blue waterlily blossoms from Kuttuvan’s western mountain springs! (Kuttuvan is a name used for the Chera kings).

பயங் கெழு பலவின் கொல்லிக் குட வரைப்
பூதம் புணர்த்த புதிது இயல் பாவை
விரி கதிர் இள வெயில் தோன்றி அன்ன நின்
ஆய் நலம் உள்ளி வரின் எமக்கு
ஏமம் ஆகும் மலை முதல் ஆறே.
Natrinai 192, Poet Unknown 
In Kurinji terrain the hero consoles his lady love when she feared about the dangers to be encountered on their path. O beautiful, dark lady who is pretty like the new Kolli goddess that has been installed by goblins on the west side of the mountain where beneficial jack fruit trees grow! I think about your beauty like the sun with spreading rays.  It is protection to me when I come on the mountain path!

செவ் வேர்ப் பலவின் பயம் கெழு கொல்லித்
தெய்வம் காக்கும் தீது தீர் நெடுங் கோட்டு
அவ் வெள் அருவிக் குட வரையகத்து
கால் பொருது இடிப்பினும் கதழ் உறை கடுகினும்
உரும் உடன்று எறியினும் ஊறு பல தோன்றினும்
பெரு நிலம் கிளரினும் திரு நல உருவின்
மாயா இயற்கைப் பாவையின்
போதல் ஒல்லாள் என் நெஞ்சத்தானே.
Natrinai 201: 5 - 12, Poet Paranar,
Even if strong winds blow, even if heavy rains pour rapidly, even if thunder roars, even if many hindrances arise, even if the big earth swells up on the tall, faultless peaks in the western mountains with white waterfalls and jackfruit trees with red roots, protected by the benevolent Kolli Mountain goddess,

கடுங்கண் வேழத்துக் கோடு நொடுத்து உண்ணும்
வல்வில் ஓரி கொல்லிக் குட வரைப்
பாவையின் மடவந் தனளே
மணத்தற்கு அரிய பணைப் பெருந்தோளே.
  Kurunthokai 100: 4-7, Kapilar, 
The girl with wide arms like bamboo is hard to embrace, and delicate like Kolli goddess who resides on the westside of strong-bowed Ori’s mountain,

ஈங்கே வருவாள் இவள் யார் கொல் ஆங்கே ஓர்
வல்லவன் தைஇய பாவை கொல் நல்லார்
உறுப்பு எலாம் கொண்டு இயற்றியாள் கொல் வெறுப்பினால்
வேண்டு உருவம் கொண்டது ஓர் கூற்றம் கொல்
Kalitokai 56: 6 - 9
Who is this girl who has come here, her face surrounded by hair braids decorated with mature clusters of blossoms from thick, shade-providing gnālal trees near the pond in the grove in town, appearing like the wide moon with sweet beams, her locks with pollen hanging low on her shoulders? There, she is like a statue made by a skilled artist.  Was she created from beautiful parts of many women?  Is she Death that attained a woman’s form due to its hatred for men?  

Sangam Polity

Tamilakam (தமிழகம்) during Sangam period was divided among the three political powers, the Cholas, Pandyas and Cheras and the three capitals were Pukar (புகார்), Madurai (மதுரை), and Vanji (வஞ்சி). They are known as crowned kings (முடியுடை மூவேந்தர்). Whenever the crowned kings conquered the feudal territories, they never annexed them to their kingdom. Instead they  allowed the feudal to function as an autonomous states under their suzerainty. Thus there were number of feudatories or chieftaincies  in Tamilakam These chieftaincies evolved as a landed aristocracy and in course of time they might have acted as soldiers, warriors, generals and even ministers to their suzerains..

Some chieftains exercised vast powers of internal autonomy within their respective territories. However they owned some kind of nominal allegiance to one or more of the the crowned kings. Number of references can be seen about the internecine warfare between the crowned kings and the vassals in Sangam literature, The reason for these feuds  could be the breaking of personal loyalty to their over-lords and refusal to pay tribute.

The chieftains are also tribal clan in character. For example Pegan belongs to Aviyar tribe or clan, Athiyan and Ori belongs to Malavar, tribe or clan. Velir chieftains ruled various parts of Tamilakam and enjoyed the privilege giving their daughters in marriage to the crowned kings. They are celebrated personalities and treated next to the crowned kings. Those chieftains who acted as the guardians of the garrisons (known as Kurumbu) in the border areas.

Seven Great Bestowers

Sirupanatruppadai, one of the Ten Idylls,  is sung on Oyman Nalliyakodan, the chieftain Oyma nadu by Nallur Nathathanar of Idaikkazhinadu, The poem lines 84 to 112 also speaks about the greatness of the Seven Great Benefactors or Bestowers or Patrons of the last Sangam era a.k.a Kadai ezhu vallalgal (கடையேழு வள்ளல்கள்) and they include: 1. Pegan of Aviyar clan (வையாவிக் கோப்பெரும் பேகன்), 2. Vel Pari, the Lord of Parambu (வேள் பாரி), 3. Kari (மலையமான் திருமுடி காரி), 4. Ay Andiran (ஆய் அண்டிரன்), 5. Athikan (அதிகன்), 6. Nalli (நளி மலை நாடன் நள்ளி) and 7. Valvil Ori (வல்வில் ஓரி). Athikan is also known as Athiyaman.

Purananuru poem 158 sung on Kumanan (குமணன்), chieftain of Mutiram hills (முதிரமலை) by Poet Perunchithiranar (பெருஞ்சித்திரனார்) also mentions about the greatness of the Seven Great Benefactors or Bestowers or Patrons of the last Sangam era a.k.a Kadai ezhu vallalgal (கடையேழு வள்ளல்கள்). Instead Athikan (அதிகன்) at srl. no. 5, the poem includes Ezhini (எழினி), the chieftain of Kutirai hills (குதிரைமலை நாடு).

Rulers of Kolli Hills

The 16 tribal counties called as "nadu" (நாடு) once constituted the historical mountain kingdom of Kolli Hills. and they include Valavanthi nadu (வாழவந்தி நாடு), Valappur nadu (வளப்பூர் நாடு), Ariyur nadu (அரியூர் நாடு), Thinnur nadu (தின்னனூர் நாடு), Guntur nadu (குண்டூர் நாடு), Selur nadu (சேளூர் நாடு), Devanur nadu (தேவனூர் நாடு), Alandur nadu (ஆலந்தூர் நாடு), Gunduni nadu (குண்டுனி நாடு), Tirupuli nadu (திருப்புலி நாடு), Edapuli nadu (எடப்புலி நாடு), Chitur nadu (சித்தூர் நாடு), Perakkarai nadu (பெரக்கரை நாடு), Peyil nadu (பெயில் நாடு), Pallappadi nadu (பள்ளப்பாடி நாடு) and Pudukombai nadu (புதுக்கோம்பை நாடு). (The 16 countries still survive and there are about 200 villages located in Kolli Hills.). Sangam literature speaks about two rulers of Kolli Hills 1. Valvil Ori (வல்வில் ஓரி), Sangam Tamil Chieftain; and 2. Perum-cheral Irumporai, the Chera ruler. Valvil Ori picked up an enmity with Perum-Cheral-Irumporai, whose capital was Karur. Ori was killed by Malayaman Tirumudi Kari in a pitched battle .Kari gave Kolli Hills as a gift to Perum-Cheral-Irumporai and the Chera succeeded after Valvil Ori's death. 

Valvil Ori

Valvil Ori  ruled over the Kolli Hills in Tamilakam around 200 A.D. He loved music and dance. Ori's swift horse was also named as Ori. His father was known as Oothan (ஊதன்). May be for this reason Vanparanar addresses him as Athan Ori (ஆதன் ஓரி):

மழை அணி குன்றத்துக் கிழவன் நாளும்
இழை அணி யானை இரப்போர்க்கு ஈயும்
சுடர்விடு பசும் பூண் சூர்ப்பு அமை முன் கை
அடு போர் ஆனா ஆதன் ஓரி
Purananuru 153, Poet Vanparanar sang for Valvil Ori
Rain-like great generosity of Ōri who never ceases to wage murderous battles, lord of a mountain decorated by clouds, wearing curved bracelets that shoot out rays, who gives awayeach day, elephants with adornments.

He was one of the Seven Great Benefactors or Bestowers or Patrons of the last Sangam era a.k.a Kadai ezhu vallalgal (கடையேழு வள்ளல்கள்). In Sirupanatruppadai (சிறுபாணாற்றுப்படை), poet Nallur Nathathanar of Idaikkazhinadu (இடைக்கழி நாட்டு நல்லூர் நத்தத்தனார்) eulogizes Valvil Ori in the poem lines 107 - 111.
…………………….. நளி சினை
நறும் போது கஞலிய நாகு முதிர் நாகத்து
குறும் பொறை நல் நாடு கோடியர்க்கு ஈந்த
காரிக் குதிரைக் காரியொடு மலைந்த   
ஓரிக் குதிரை ஓரியும் 
(Sirupanatruppadai  107 - 111, Poet Nallur Nathathanar of Idaikkazhinadu)
Ori, owner of a horse named Ōri, who donated to dancers and musicians, fine lands with hills and young, tall surapunnai trees with dense branches bearing fragrant, bright flowers.  He fought with Kari who rode on a horse named Kari.

In Purananuru poem 158 poet Perunchithiranar praises about Valvil Ori in the poem line 5. The chieftain Valvil Ori ruled Kolli Hills.

கொல்லி ஆண்ட வல்வில் ஓரியும்
(Poet Perunchithiranar sang to Kumanan. Purananuru 158: 5)
Valvil Ori ruled Kolli Hills.

He was known for his rain like generosity (மாரி வண் கொடை). He was the 'lord of a mountain decorated by clouds and known for his murderous battles. He is popularly known for his skill in archery and therefore he was named as "Valvil Ori" meaning "great skill in archery." Vanparanar, a Sangam poet eulogises Ori's archery skill in Puranauru poem 158. Ori shot an arrow from his bow. The arrow struck down an elephant, further it went and killed a tiger, dropped a spotted stag, felled a boar and embedded in an iguana in a nearby deep hole.

வேழம் வீழ்த்த விழுத் தொடைப் பகழி
பேழ்வாய் உழுவையைப் பெரும் பிறிது உறீஇப்
புழல் தலை புகர்க் கலை உருட்டி உரல் தலைக்
கேழல் பன்றி வீழ அயலது
ஆழல் புற்றத்து உடும்பில் செற்றும்
வல் வில் வேட்டம் வலம்படுத் திருந்தோன்
புகழ் சால் சிறப்பின் அம்பு மிகத் திளைக்கும்
Purananuru 152, Poet Vanparanar sang for Valvil Ori, 
He was widely famed for his skill in killing, the one who shoots with his strong bow.  He shot an arrow that felled an elephant, killed a tiger with gaping mouth, dropped a spotted stag with hollow horns, felled a boar with head like mortar, and embedded in a monitor lizard in a nearby deep hole.  Who is the archer who shoots with such skill? 

Each day he gave away elephants with adornments. One bard sang vannam compositions on Ori. The danseuse (virali) accompanying the bard played mula drum, ellari drum, akuli drum, pathalai drum, liitle lute, and thoompu as orchestra. Twenty  one themes of musical compositions were composed in honour of Valvil Ori (Purananuru 152). Ori gifted the bards and their accomplices with water lily flower made in gold inset with sapphires and fastened to silver threads, wealth, and herds of elephants. The bards who called on Ori were not starving any more and remained without dancing to the sweet music instruments. (Purananuru 153)

Ori was eulogized for his generosity and valour in five of the eight anthologies (Ettuthokai) books such as Akananuru (அகநானுறு), Kuruntokai (குறுந்தோகை), Natrinai (நற்றிணை), Pathitrupathu (பதிற்றுப்பத்து) and Purananuru (புறநானுறு) as well as in one of the Ten Idylls (பத்துப்பாட்டு) book - Sirupanatruppadai (சிறுபாணாற்றுப்படை). Sangam poets such as Arisil Kizhar (அரிசில் கிழார்), Ilankiranar (இளங்கீரனார்), Avvaiyar (ஔவையார்), Kapilar (கபிலர்), Kalladanar (கல்லாடனார்), Kurunkozhiyur Kizhar (குறுங்கோழியூர் கிழார்), Thayankannanar (தாயங்கண்ணனார்), Paranar (பரணர்), Perunkunrur Kizhar (பெருங்குன்றூர் கிழார்), Perunchitranar (பெருஞ்சித்திரனார்), Mathurai Alakkar Gnazhalar Makanar Mallanar (மதுரை அளக்கர் ஞாழலார் மகனார் மள்ளனார்) lauded Kolli Hills and Ori. Kapilar, Nattattanaar, Paranar and Perunchitranar eulogise Valvil Ori as the benevolent ruler of Kolli Hills. Kurunkozhiyur Kizhar, Perunkunrur Kizhar and Thayankannanar glorify the Kolli Hills.

Perum-cheral Irumporai

Perum Cheral Irumporai (பெருஞ்சேரல் இரும்பொறை), the Chera monarch was the son of Selvak Kadungo Vaazi Adan (செல்வக்கடுங்கோ வாழி ஆதன்).  Eighth decad of Patitrupattu anthology narrates his seventeen years of rule. He ruled his country from Karur, the Chera capital (கருவூர் ஏறிய ஒள்வாட் கோப்பெருஞ்சேரல் இரும்பொறை). The siege of Karur by the Chola monarch Kulamutrathu Thunjiya Killivalavan (குலமுற்றத்துத் துஞ்சிய கிள்ளி வளவன்) developed a pitched battle and the Chera won the battle and assumed the title "Ko-Perum-cheral-Irumporai (கோப்பெருஞ்சேரல் இரும்பொறை). Athiyaman of Tagadur was under the overlordship of Cheras. When Athiyaman failed to accept the authority of Cheras, Perum Cheral Irumporai defeated him in a pitched battle. His invasion, destruction and victory of the city of Tagadur of Athiyaman chief Ezhni is mentioned in Tagadur Yathirai (தகடூர் யாத்திரை), a literary work and Irumporai was known as Tagadur Erintha Perum Cheral Irumporai (தகடூர் எறிந்த பெருஞ்சேரல் இரும்பொறை).

Malayaman Tirumudi Kari

Malayaman Tirumudi Kari was one of the autonomous chieftain who ruled Malainadu.  Tirukovalur, an ancient town, was his capital.  Mullur (now located in Gingee taluk, Villupuram district) was the most important town in his country. முள்ளூர் மன்னன் கழறொடிக் காரி (Akananuru 209). Kotunkal (கொடுங்கல்)  was another town of Kari located on the banks of the river Pennai. He was one of the Seven Great Benefactors or Bestowers or Patrons of the last Sangam era a.k.a Kadai ezhu vallalgal (கடையேழு வள்ளல்கள்). He was also one of the contemporary of Valvil Ori. Sirupanatruppadai (lines 91 - 95) and Purananuru poem 158 (lines 6 - 7) eulogise Tirumudi Kari.

The chieftains were subdued by the empire builders i.e., Muvendars - Chera, Chola and Pandya of ancient Tamilakam and their paramountcy was accepted. Kari was a vassal to the early Chola king Kulamutrathu Thunjiya Killivalavan. Over the period of time he broke his loyalty to the over-lord and wore a crown and declared himself as Tirumudi Kari. He was a revolting vassal and was one of the most dangerous threats to the crowned king and neighboring vassals.

Kari - Athiyaman Neduman Anci: Encounter

Athiyaman Neduman Anci was the chief of the renowned warrior clan of Malavar. Tagadur was his capital (identified with modern Dharmapuri district). Kari waged war on Tagadur against Athiyaman Neduman Anci. It was an attempt fueled by his longtime desire to become an emperor equivalent in power to the Cholas. Kari was defeated and lost Kovalur to Athiyaman.

Kari Defeated Valvil Ori 

Perum Cheral Irumporai was in agreement with Malayaman Tirumudi Kari and the Chera was expecting Kari's support in defeating Valvil Ori (வல்வில் ஓரி), the chieftain of Kolli hills (கொல்லிமலை). Kari defeated and killed Ori and took Kolli Hills. An Akananuru poem 209 and Natrinai poem 320 register this event.
முள்ளூர் மன்னன் கழல்தொடிக் காரி
செல்லா நல்இசை நிறுத்த வல்வில்
ஓரிக் கொன்று சேரலர்க்கு ஈந்த (Akananuru 209)
Mullur King Kari with warrior anklets and bracelets, owning bloody spears, gifted to the Cheras after killing Ori of unfading fame and strong bows.

"ஓரிக்கொன்றவொருபெருந் திருவிற், காரி புக்க நேரார் புலம்போற், கல்லென் றன்றாலூரே" (Natrinai.320 Poet Kapilar)
The whole town laughs with great uproar. This is like when Kāri killed Ori of ancient victories, and then entered his wide avenue which had no match, and his people raised uproars.

Kari captured the Kolli Hills and gifted it to Perum Cheral Irumporai (Akananuru poem 209). Perum Cheral Irumporai on his part defeated and killed Athiyaman and retrieved Tirukovalur and handed over to Kari. The capture of Kollik-kuurram (கொல்லிக்கூற்றம்)  and Tagadur (தகடூர்) by the Irumporai and the pitched battles are vividly referred in Patirruppattu anthology. From then on Paranar commenced addressing the Chera as "Perum Cheral Irumporai, as the Lord of Kolli hills."(who is also known as Poraiyan)  and as "Poraiyan Kolli" (பொறையன் கொல்லி) (ref. Akananuru poem 82 and Kuruntohai poem 89). Kolli-kutavarai belongs to Cheras who won battles ‘வெல்போர் வானவன் கொல்லிக் குடவரை’ (Akananuru 213). Silappatikaram also praises Perum-cheral Irumporai as the Lord of Kolli Hills (‘கொல்லியாண்ட குடவர் கோவே’)(ref. Silappadhikaram Pattumadai Chapter 24-verse 26). This suggests that Silappatikaram could have composed after Cheras captured Kollik-kuurram (கொல்லிக்கூற்றம்). 

கழை விரிந்து எழுதரும் மழை தவழ் நெடுங்கோட்டுக்
கொல்லிப் பொருந கொடித் தேர்ப் பொறைய!
Patirruppattu 73;11, Poet Arisil Kilar king Perum Cheral Irumporai
Lord of the mountain country with banners on your chariots! You are the king of Kolli Mountain where bamboo forests rise high, and clouds spread on tall peaks.

His successor Cheraman Yanaikat Chey Mantharan Cheral Irumporai (யானைக்கட்சேய் மாந்தரஞ்சேரல் இரும்பொறை) is being addressed by  Poet Kurunkoliyur Kilar as "O killer King!  Ruler of Kolli Mountain!" ஓங்கு கொல்லியோர் அடு பொருந (Purananuru 22).

How to get there?

By Bus

Kolli Hills can be reached by road from Namakkal and Salem. There are less frequent bus services to Kollimalai, Periyasamy Kovil, Arappaleeswarar Kovil, Vilaram, Mekkani Kadu. Belukkurichi is a village located at the foot of the Kolli Hills. After passing through Kalappanaikenpatti, the Ghat road begins at Nadukombai and proceeds via Karavalli to the top of Kolli Hills. There is a check-post at Karavalli. From Karavalli to Semmedu the running would be one hour or more. There are 70 hair-pin bends in this ghat route. At Solakkadu the road gets diverted to two different directions leading to Ettukkai Amman Temple and Arappaleswarar Temple.

Nearest railway station is Salem, 53 km from Kolli Hills.

Nearest Airport is at Tiruchirapalli, 90kms from here.

  1. Kolli Hills http://tamilnadu-favtourism.blogspot.in/2008/11/kolli-hills.html
  2. Kolli Hill Station http://www.tamilnadutourism.org/HillStation/Trekking/KolliHills.html
  3. Kollip-purai: An Inscribed Tamil Coin http://tamilartsacademy.com/articles/article48.xml
  4. Sangam Poems Translated by Vaidehi https://sangamtranslationsbyvaidehi.com/
  5. அபூர்வ மூலிகைகள்...சிறுதானியங்கள்...கொல்லிமலை சொல்லும் ரகசியங்கள்! http://www.vikatan.com/news/coverstory/34201.html
  6. கொள்ளை கொள்ளும் கொல்லிமலைச் சாரல். இராஜராஜேஸ்வரி http://moonramkonam.com/kolli-malai-chara/
  7. கொல்லிக் குடவரை https://ta.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E0%AE%95%E0%AF%8A%E0%AE%B2%E0%AF%8D%E0%AE%B2%E0%AE%BF%E0%AE%95%E0%AF%8D_%E0%AE%95%E0%AF%81%E0%AE%9F%E0%AE%B5%E0%AE%B0%E0%AF%88
  8. கொல்லிப்பாவை http://www.gunathamizh.com/2009/11/blog-post_12.html?m=1
  9. வல்வில் ஓரியின் கொல்லி மலை https://theekkathir.in/2016/01/25/%E0%AE%B5%E0%AE%B2%E0%AF%8D%E0%AE%B5%E0%AE%BF%E0%AE%B2%E0%AF%8D%E0%AE%93%E0%AE%B0%E0%AE%BF%E0%AE%AF%E0%AE%BF%E0%AE%A9%E0%AF%8D%E0%AE%95%E0%AF%8A%E0%AE%B2%E0%AF%8D%E0%AE%B2%E0%AE%BF-%E0%AE%AE/

Monday, June 12, 2017

Food in Sangam Literature 5: Food Habits in Five Sangam Landscapes

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Honey Harvesting using Coir Ladder
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Palai Landscape
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Cow-herd Woman Churning Curd
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Plowman in Marutam Land at Dawn Hours
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Fishermen at Shore
"Literature is a fragment of a fragment; of all that ever happened or has been said, but a fraction has been written, and of this but little extant" - Goethe (Quoted in The New Dictionary of Thoughts, subject Literature, New York, 1936.

Tolkappiyam composed by Tolkappiyar is the most ancient work in Tamil grammar. Having three sections, the first two deal with language (linguistics) and the third about the "subject matter of life and literature."  Each section has been divided into nine chapters. It is believed that Tolkappiyar lived in the fourth century B.C. There are three translations in English of the entire Tolkappiyam are available.

‘Subject matter of life and literature’ (Porulatikaram), the third part of the book Tolkappiyam, the ancient Tamil grammar work, deals with the functions, the matter, and the mode of poetics. Pathinenmelkanakku books comprising Eight Anthologies and Ten Idylls are collections of poems composed after Tolkappiyam by various poets. Most of the poets belonged to the single epoch i.e., Sangam period. Tolkappiyam and Pathinenmelkanakku books are collectively referred to as Sangam Literature.

Tolkappiyam is the primary source for the literary legislation of Sangam literature. It provides two fold classification for Sangam Tamil poems i.e., Love poems (Akam Poems) and all other poems that are not love poems (Puram Poems).  Tinai or strand is the pattern forming a unity within a larger collection of Sangam poems. It is the unifying principles in Akam literary theory. Personal life in Akam poems is classified into seven tinais or strands:

Chart: Akaporul - Divisions (Tamil)

porul.gif (450×275)

கைக்கிளை முதலாப் பெருந்திணை இறுவாய்
முற்படக் கிளந்த எழு திணை என்ப.
(Tolkappiyam Porulatikaram 1)
They are from one side love (kaikkilai) to mismatched love (perunthinai). 

நடுவண் ஐந்திணை நடுவணது ஒழிய
படு திரை வையம் பாத்திய பண்பே. 
(Tolkappiyam Porulatikaram 3)
Among the middle five tinais or strands of life style (ஐந்திணை) are habits of five lands classified: 1. Kurinj, the hilly tract; 2. Mullai, the meadow of forest tracts; 3. Palai, the arid tract by seasons in the above two tracts; 4. Marutam, the cultivate land on river bed; and 5. Neital, the littoral tract on sea bed.

முதல் கரு உரிப்பொருள் என்ற மூன்றே
நுவலும் காலை முறை சிறந்தனவே
பாடலுள் பயின்றவை நாடும் காலை. 
(Tolkappiyam Porulatikaram 3)
The matter and subjects found in poetry are discerned in three structures; 1 (Mutarporul - முதற்பொருள்) the primary things (landscape and seasons), 2 (Karupporul - கருப்பொருள்) the living things in the tract and 3 (Uripporul - உரிப்பொருள்) the personal behavior of the persons belonging to the tract. 

முதல் எனப்படுவது நிலம் பொழுது இரண்டின்
இயல்பு என மொழிப இயல்பு உணர்ந்தோரே.   
(Tolkappiyam Porulatikaram 4)
Aspects of landscapes and time of the day are (Mutarporul), the linguistic discerns.

Akam poems are concerned with landscape, the seasons, the hours appropriate to each aspect and emotion of love. 
Table: Season and Time of the Day

 Spring (இளவேனில்) Mid Apr - Mid Jun;
 Yamam (யாமம்)
 Summer (முதுவேனில்) Mid Jun - Mid Aug,
 Noon (நண்பகல்)
  Monsoon (கார்) Mid Aug - Mid Oct,
 Evening (மாலை) 
 Autumn (குளிர்) Mid Oct - Mid Dec,
 Dawn (வைகறை, விடியல்)
 Prevernal (பின்பனி) Mid Feb - Mid Apr;
 Afternoon (ஏற்பாடு, பிற்பகல்)

'Karupporul' (கருப்பொருள்) mentions fourteen aspects in relation with each tinai and landscape. These fourteen aspects are nothing but the concrete representations of each landscape i.e., 1. god or goddess, 2. inhabitant (Primary), 3. inhabitant (secondary), 4. birds, 5. beasts, 6. village, 7. waterbodies, 8. flower, 9. trees, 10. food, 11. drum, 12. lute, 13.musical note, 14. their varying occupation. Food is indispensable for human survival. It is unique to each tinai or strand and forms part of relevant tinai or strand..

Table: Karupporul

God or Goddess 
 Method of worship
 Primary  Inhabitant
 Primary class people or inhabitant
 Secondary Inhabitant 
 Secondary class people or inhabitant
Unique bird of the tract 
Beasts or Animals
Animal meant for domestication or wild animals  
 Name and type of villages unique to the tract or landscape
 Typical water-bodies unique to the tract or landscape
 Unique flower. names of the flower 
 Landscapes and the names of the trees
Agriculture status 
 Percussion instrument
String instrument 
Musical Note 
Unique Musical Note 
Varying Occupation 
Technical skills and typical produces 

Uripporul (உரிப்பொருள்) is the personal behavior of the persons belonging to the tract. Five personal behavior of the lovers belonging to the tract: 1. Kurinji - Lovers union; 2. Palai - Separation; 3. Mullai - Endurance; 4. Marutam - Sulking; 5. Neital - Longing.

Geographical Distribution of Sangam Tamils

Anthropo-geography is the concept put forward by Fritz Graebner (1877-1934), a German anthropologist, geographer and ethnologist best known for his development of the theory of "Kulturkreis," or "culture circle." Anthropogeography is 'a branch of anthropology dealing with the geographical distribution of humankind and the relationship between human beings and their environment.' Tamilakam refers to the geographical region inhabited by the ancient Tamil people. The geography of food is a field of human geography. Spatial variations in food production and consumption practices have been noted for thousands of years.

The first crop grown by Sangam Tamil civilization was millet. Rice was also produced around this time or little later.  Agriculture produced more food, which helped the population to grow variety of food grains, pulses, vegetables, spices, dairy  as well as meat and poultry unique to the five different geographical landscapes. The landscape of Tamilakam with its mountains, pastoral slopes, river beds and coastal shores formed the basis for the distribution Tamils. The five geographical landscapes also stand unique and forms the basis for the division of poetry on geographical regions: Kurinji (mountain) poetry; Mullai (pastoral land) poetry; Marutam (wet-land) poetry; and Neital (seaside) poetry. There was abundant variety in the landscape offered to the Tamil poet for study and contemplation. The physiographical lay-out of Tamilakam, its flora and fauna, its hills and valleys, rivers and lakes, its deserts and sandy beaches, formed the basis for a considerable portion of Tamil poetic convention.

Pattuppattu: Atruppadai Poems

Atruppadai poems, the unique Sangam literary form, where in one bard or the minstrel (பாணர்), who is returning with bounteous gifts from a Maecenas or Patron (usually the king / chieftain). In all arruppadai poems the bard or the minstrel gained immense opportunity to detail the nature of 'Sangam' terrain', (its beauty, fertility, and food of the specific terrain) and its territory to be traversed. There is an emphasis on the tedious journey to reach the fort palace of the Maecenas. Atruppadai poems  praise kings, valor, wars, generosity, loyalty, and gratitude. In Pattuppattu there are five Atruppadai poems i.e., Tirumurugatruppadai (திருமுருகாற்றுப்படை), Porunaratruppadai (பொருநராற்றுப்படை), Perumpanatruppadai (பெரும்பாணாற்றுப்படை), Sirupanatruppadai (சிறுபாணாற்றுப்படை) and Malaipadukadam (மலைபடுகடாம்).. Among the five atruppadai poems, one of them differs from the others i.e., Tirumurugatruppadai, which directs devotees not to a Maecenas but to God Murugan. Kamil Zvlebil, well known Tamil scholar consider that these Atruppadai poems composed around 3rd century A.D. These longer poems eloquently depict the most advanced civilization that prevailed in ancient Tamilakam during Tamil Sangam period. 

Food is the perennial theme in the remaining four Atruppadai poems. The poems describes many facets of life in different communities in five different geographical terrains and the hospitality extended by them to the minstrel. They also provide graphic description of the food served by people to the minstrel. The guiding bard praises about the benevolence of the king or chieftain to the travelling bard. In an interesting manner food features an important place in the context of the guiding bard, travelling bard and the patron in Atruppadai poems.

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Wikimedia Commons
Food in Kurinji Terrain

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Kurinji Tinai corresponds to mountainous terrain and adjoining lands. Kurinji or Neelakurinji flower (Strobilanthes kunthiana), which blooms once in 12 years,  is mentioned as the native flower and hence the name Kurinji Tinai. Lord Muruga was worshiped by the native people. The Kurinji forests are known for dense jungle dotted with waterfalls and springs. Verpan and Kodichi were the primary inhabitants and Kuravan and Kurathi were secondary inhabitants. Tiger, bear, elephant, parrots and peacocks were native animals and birds. Lovers of this land made their 'union' during 'yamam' (midnight), in winter season without minding about the dangers of the land. The hunters engaged in honey harvesting from tall mountains using rope ladder. Jack fruit, bamboo, teak sandalwood trees occupied their terrain. Kurinji land people cultivated foxtail millet, bamboo rice and tubers.  Their villages were known as Sirukudi (சிறுகுடி) , and Kurichi (குறிச்சி). The native music note of the land was Kurinji Note (குறிஞ்சிப் பண்) and percussion instrument was Thontakam (drum) and the stringed musical instrument was Kurunji Lute (குறிஞ்சி யாழ்).

Food Habits: 
கேளா மன்னர் கடி புலம் புக்கு
நாள் ஆ தந்து நறவு நொடை தொலைச்சி
இல் அடு கள் இன் தோப்பி பருகி
மல்லல் மன்றத்து மதவிடை கெண்டி
மடிவாய்த் தண்ணுமை நடுவண் சிலைப்பச்
சிலை நவில் எறுழ்த்தோள் ஓச்சி வலன் வளையூஉப்
பகல் மகிழ் தூங்கும் தூங்கா இருக்கை (140 - 146)
(Perumpanatruppadai 140 - 146) Poet Kadiyalur Urithirankannanar, king Thondaiman Ilanthiraiyan)
In the kurinchi region the thieves who steal cattle sell them to buy sweet rice liquor that is made at home and eat the meat of sturdy goats enjoy it along with meat of sturdy goats. They dance and celebrate to the beat of thannumai drums. It is a place where they don’t sleep.

மான விறல் வேள் வயிரியம் எனினே
நும் இல் போல நில்லாது புக்கு
கிழவிர் போலக் கேளாது கெழீஇ
சேட் புலம்பு அகல இனிய கூறி
பரூஉக்குறை பொழிந்த நெய்க்கண் வேவையொடு
குரூஉக்கண் இறடிப் பொம்மல் பெறுகுவிர்
(Malaipadukadam 164 - 169 Poet Perunkundroor Perunkousikanar king Nannan Venman)
Hospitality in a Village on the Path:When the bard reaches a village on the mountain slopes, he is advised to tell the villagers that they are the respected musicians of the honored king Nannan, whose victories in battles cannot be handled by enemies. They may become friendly with the people there without asking, as though they are their relatives. They will definitely utter sweet words to them who have come from a distant place.  They will receive from them dishes with big pieces of meat roasted in ghee along with colorful millet rice.

முள்ளம்பன்றி porcupine
வேய்ப் பெயல் விளையுள் தேக்கட் தேறல்
குறைவு இன்று பருகி நறவு மகிழ்ந்து வைகறை
பழஞ் செருக்கு உற்ற நும் அனந்தல் தீர
அருவி தந்த பழம் சிதை வெண் காழ்
வருவிசை தவிர்த்த கடமான் கொழுங்குறை
முளவுமாத் தொலைச்சிய பைந்நிணப் பிளவை
பிணவுநாய் முடிக்கிய தடியொடு விரைஇ
வெண்புடைக் கொண்ட துய்த்தலைப் பழனின்
இன் புளிக் கலந்து மா மோர் ஆக
கழை வளர் நெல்லின் அரி உலை ஊழ்த்து
வழை அமல் சாரல் கமழத் துழைஇ
நறுமலர் அணிந்த நாறு இரு முச்சிக்
குறமகள் ஆக்கிய வால் அவிழ் வல்சி
(Malaipadukadam 171 - 183 Poet Perunkundroor Perunkousikanar king Nannan Venman)
Gifts from Nannan’s Mountains: Along with food, they will give you sweet liquor aged in bamboo pipes which you can drink without limits. For their hangover to go, in the morning, they will serve them scattered seeds of fruits brought down by waterfalls; big pieces of meat of bison killed ruining arrows, chopped up pieces of fatty meat of porcupines mixed with fuzzy-topped, sweet tamarind and buttermilk, seeds growing on bamboo added to the boiling liquid. White rice cooked by a mountain woman and their fragrances spreading all over the mountains with surapunnai trees.  They, along with their children, will be greatly hospitable in all the houses, and prevent them from leaving.

வரை சேர் வகுந்தின் கானத்துப் படினே
கழுதில் சேணோன் ஏவொடு போகி
இழுதின் அன்ன வால் நிணம் செருக்கி
நிறப் புண் கூர்ந்த நிலம் தின் மருப்பின்
நெறிக் கெடக் கிடந்த இரும்பிணர் எருத்தின்
இருள் துணிந்தன்ன ஏனம் காணின்
முளி கழை இழைந்த காடுபடு தீயின்
நளி புகை கமழாது இறாயினிர் மிசைந்து
(Malaipadukadam 242 - 249 Poet Perunkundroor Perunkousikanar king Nannan Venman) 
Seek Protection in the Caves at Night: When the bards go on the mountain path in the forest, they will definitely see a dead boar with a big rough neck, with wounds on its chest oozing white fat that appears like butter, lying there, dark like cut up darkness, its tusks ruined by digging, killed by a forest guard from a high platform with arrows.  Roast it in the dry bamboo fire which burns without much smoke, remove the hair and eat it.  Relax and drink the clear water from the faultless, beautiful, sapphire-colored, fresh spring. Carry the excess meat in heavy bundles. At night enter a mountain cave and treat it like it is their home".

தடியும் கிழங்கும் தண்டினர் தரீஇ
ஓம்புநர் அல்லது உடற்றுநர் இல்லை
(Malaipadukadam 425 - 426 Poet Perunkundroor Perunkousikanar king Nannan Venman) 
Warriors will help: If the bards see warriors with sharp arrows and curved bows, who are within calling distance, let them tell the warriors that they are going to see king Nannan Venman, they will give feed you forcefully with abundant meat and tubers.  They are ones who will protect them, not hurt them. Proceed with their guidance.  Such is the nature of the forest.

Food in Palai Terrain

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Palai Tinai corresponds to parched wasteland or desert terrain land. Palai flower (Wrightia antidysenterica), is mentioned as the native flower and hence the name Palai Tinai. Goddess Kotravai was worshiped by the native people. Dry wells and stagnated water were the sources for water. Vitalai, Kalai and Meeli were the primary inhabitants and Eyinar, Eyirriyar, Maravar and Marathiyar were the secondary inhabitants. Old elephant, Tiger, and wolf were the native animals. Dove, kite and eagle were the birds. Common trees found in Palai terrain included Uzhinjai (உழிஞை), Palai (பாலை), Omai (ஓமை) and Iruppai (இருப்பை). Their food was robbed from wayfarers. Lovers of this land suffer due to separation during noon in summer season. The hero has undertaken dangerous journey. Eyinars, ancient aboriginal tribe, and Maravars were engaged in hunting and robbery. Cactus occupied their terrain. Their villages were known as Kurumbu (குறும்பு), and Parantalai (பறந்தலை). The native music note of the land was Palai Note (பாலைப் பண்). They have used Aralaiparai (ஆறலைப் பறை) and Sooraikotparai (சூறைகோட் பறை) drums and Palai Lute (பாலை யாழ்).

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ஆமான் Indian bison
Food Habits
எயிற்றியர் அட்ட இன் புளி வெஞ்சோறு
தேமா மேனி சில் வளை ஆயமொடு
ஆமான் சூட்டின் அமைவரப் பெறுகுவிர்
(Sirupanatruppadai 175 - 177, Poet Nallur Nathathanar, king Oyman Nalliyakodan)
On the way to Velur and Hospitality in the Wasteland: Women of the Eyitriyar race who stay in huts in the waste land will be hospitable to the bards and serve rice and dishes cooked with sweet tamarind sauce and meat of forest cattle (bison). ஆமான் – jungle cow, சூட்டின் – with cooked wild cow’s meat,

“நுண்புல்அடக்கிய வெண்பல் எயிற்றியர்
பார்வையாத்த பறைதாள் விளவின்
நீழல் முன்றில் நிலவுரல் பெய்து
குறுங்காழ் உலக்கை ஓச்சி நெடும் கிணற்று
வல்லூற்று உவரி தோண்டித் தொல்லை
முரவு வாய்க்குழிசி முரி அடுப்பேற்றி
வாராது அட்ட வாடூன் புழுக்கல்”
(Perumpanatruppadai 94 - 100 Poet Kadiyalur Urithirankannanar, king Thondaiman Ilanthiraiyan)
Food given by Women wasteland hunters (எயிற்றியர்): In a front yard, in the shade of a woodapple tree whose trunk has been reduced by a deer tied to it. Women of the wasteland hunters, with white teeth, pour the grain into an ural set in the ground, and pound with their short ulakkai, draw brackish water from a well, and cook it along with dried white meat, in an old pot with a ruined mouth rim, on a broken stove.

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உடும்பு Iguana
“கொடுவில் எயினர் குறும்பில் சேப்பின்
களர் வளர் ஈந்தின் காழ் கண்டன்
சுவல் விளை நெல்லின் செவ்வ்விழ்ச் சொன்றி
ஞமலி தந்த மனவுச்சூல் உடும்பின்
வறைகால் யாத்த்து வயின்தொறும் பெறுகுவீர்”
(Perumpanatruppadai 129 - 133, Poet Kadiyalur Urithirankannanar, king Thondaiman Ilanthiraiyan)
At the fort of the forest dwellers in many homes they will serve red rice grown from the paddy growing in the highland, that look like dates from eenthu palm trees along with poriyal (srir fried) dishes made of fresh iguana with eggs looking like conch conch shells.

Food in Mullai Tinai

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Mullai Tinai corresponds to pastoral terrain and used for grazing livestock. Jasmine (Mullai) flower (Jasminum auriculatum) is mentioned as the native flower and hence the name Mullai Tinai. Lord Mayon was worshiped by the native people. The Mullai pastoral land is known for shepherds herding livestock around open grazing land. The land is blessed with wild rivers. Kurumporai (குறும்பொறை நாடன்), Kizhathi (கிழத்தி), Thondral Manaivi (தோன்றல் மனைவி) were the primary inhabitants and Idaiyar (இடையர்), Idaichiyar (இடைச்சியர்), Ayar (ஆயர்), Aychiyar (ஆய்ச்சியர்), Kovalar (கோவலர்) and Pothuvar (பொதுவர்) were the secondary inhabitants. Deer and rabbit were the native animals and fowl was their bird. Their trees included Kondrai (கொன்றை), Kaya (காயா) and Kuruntham (குருந்தம்). They cultivated kodo millet and little millet. Lovers of this land (heroine) expresses grief due to 'separation' during 'evening', in late summer season. They lived in villages like Padi (பாடி), Cheri (சேரி) and Palli (பள்ளி). The herdsmen engaged in pastoral and agricultural occupations and Aychiyar engaged in fetching milk, buttermilk, curd, butter and ghee. The native music note of the land were Mullai Note (முல்லைப் பண்) and Saadhari (சாதாரி) and the drums used were Erangot drum (ஏறங்கோட் பறை) and Erukot drum (ஏறுகோட் பறை) and lute used was Mullai Lute (முல்லை யாழ்).

Food Habits
"இருங்கிளை ஞெண்டின் சிறுபார்ப்பன்ன
பசுந்திணை மூரல் பாலொடும் பெருகுவீர்"
(Perumpanatruppadai 167 - 168, Poet Kadiyalur Urithirankannanar, king Thondaiman Ilanthiraiyan)
In the residences of Cattle Herders bards along with their relatives will receive fresh millet that looks like baby crabs, cooked and served with milk.

"நெடுங்குரற் பூளைப் பூவி னன்ன
குறுந்தாள் வரகின் குறளவிழ்ச் சொன்றிப்
புகரிணர் வேங்கை வீகண் டன்ன
வவரை வான்புழுக் கட்டிப் பயில்வுற்
றின்சுவை மூரற் பெறுவிர்"
(Perumpanatruppadai 192 - 196, Poet Kadiyalur Urithirankannanar, king Thondaiman Ilanthiraiyan)
In the huts of Mullai land people living in small villages the bards will receive a sweet tasting meal made with small millet, looking like the large clusters of poolai flowers, cooked with white avarai beans.

செவ்வீ  வேங்கைப் பூவின் அன்ன
வேய் கொள் அரிசி மிதவை சொரிந்த
சுவல் விளை நெல்லின் அவரை அம்புளிங்கூழ்
அற்கு இடை உழந்த நும் வருத்தம் வீட
அகலுள் ஆங்கண் கழி மிடைந்து இயற்றிய
புல்வேய் குரம்பைக் குடிதொறும் பெறுகுவிர்
பொன் அறைந்தன்ன நுண் நேர் அரிசி
வெண் எறிந்து இயற்றிய மாக் கண் அமலை
தண்ணென் நுண் இழுது உள்ளீடு ஆக
அசையினிர் சேப்பின் அல்கலும் பெறுகுவிர்
விசையம் கொழித்த பூழி அன்ன
உண்ணுநர்த் தடுத்த நுண் இடி நுவணை
நொய்ம் மர விறகின் ஞெகிழி மாட்டி
(Malaipadukadam 434 - 446 Poet Perunkundroor Perunkousikanar king Nannan Venman)
Hospitality of Villages with Huts: At night in the villages with huts the bards will be served food cooked with seeds of bamboo that are beautiful like vengai flowers, and rice grown on high grounds along with beautiful tamarind gravy with avarai beans.   In all the villages with huts built with poles and thatched with grass, the bards will receive daily, huge balls of rice made with tiny, perfect rice, like tiny gold pieces, butter, and meat of white goats.  If you stay there and rest, every day you will be given dishes made with fine millet flour mixed with sifted sugar powder.

Food in Marutam Tinai

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Marutam Tinai corresponds to crop land (terrain) and adjoining agricultural lands. Marutam flower (Lagerstroemia speciosa) is mentioned as the native flower and hence the name Marutam Tinai. Lord Vendan (a.k.a Indra) was worshiped by the native people. The Marutam landscape is known for agricultural land dotted with ponds and lakes. Ooran (ஊரான்), Makizhnan (மகிழ்நன்), Kizhathi (கிழத்தி) and Manaivi (மனைவி) were the primary inhabitants and .Ulavar (உழவர்), Ulathiyar (உழத்தியர்), Kataiyar (கடையர்), Kataisiyar (கடைசியர்) and Kalamar (களமர்) were the secondary inhabitants. Buffalo (எருமை) and Otter (நீர்நாய்) were the animals and swan (அன்னம்), Andril (அன்றில்), Vandanam (வண்டானம்), Magandril (மகன்றில்), Stork (நாரை), Kampul (கம்புள்) and Thara (தாரா) were the birds. Lovers of this land made their 'elopement' shortly before sunrise (vaigarai), in late spring season. The farmers engaged in cultivation activities in the field. Kanji (காஞ்சி), Vanji (வஞ்சி), and Marutam (மருதம்) trees occupied the terrain. Flowers included lotus (தாமரை) and Sengaluneer flower (செங்கழுநீர்ப் பூ). They lived in villages i.e., Perur (பேரூர்) and Moothoor (மூதூர்). Marutam land people cultivated paddy, lentils, vegetables and fruits.  The native music note of the land was Marutam Note (மருதப் பண்).They have used Nellari drum (நெல்லரி பறை) and Manamulavu drum (மணமுழவு) and Martham Lute (மருத யாழ்).

Food Habits

இருங்கா உலக்கை இரும்பு முகம் தேய்த்த
அவைப்பு மாண் அரிசி அமலை வெண்சோறு
கவைத்தாள் அலவன் கலவையொடு பெறுகுவீர்.
(Sirupanatruppadai 193 - 195, Poet Nallur Nathathanar, king Oyman Nalliyakodan)
In the agricultural tracts they will give:
Prosperity of Amur and hospitality of farm women: The younger sister of the farmer will serve cooked white rice balls, from rice finely pounded with an iron pestle whose ends have been blunted, served with split-legged crabs
கவைத்தாள் – split-legged, அலவன் – crabs

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split-legged crabs broth கவைத்தாள்  அலவன்  கலவை 
“நெடுங்குரல் பூளைப்பூவின் அன்ன
குறுந்தாள் வரகின் குறளவிழ்ச் சொன்றி
புகர் இணர் வேங்கை வீசுண்டன்ன
அவரை வான் புழுக்கட்டிப் பயில்வுற்று
இன்சுவை மூரல் பெறுகுவிர்” 
(Perumpanatruppadai 192 - 196 Poet Kadiyalur Urithirankannanar, king Thondaiman Ilanthiraiyan)
You (bards) will receive a sweet tasting meal made with small millet, looking like the large clusters of poolai flowers, cooked with white avarai beans.

தேன் நெய்யொடு கிழங்கு மாறியோர்
மீன் நெய்யொடு நறவு மறுகவும்
தீங் கரும்போடு அவல் வகுத்தோர்
மான் குறையொடு மது மறுகவும்
(Porunaratruppadai 214 - 217, Poet Mudathamakkaniyar.  king Cholan Karikalan)
Barter in Poompukar: People barter honey, ghee and yams for fish oil and toddy. Those who sell sweet sugarcane and portions of flattened rice, barter for deer meat and wine.

கண்பு மலி பழனம் கமழத் துழைஇ
வலையோர் தந்த இருஞ்சுவல் வாளை
நிலையோர் இட்ட நெடுநாண் தூண்டில்
பிடிக்கை அன்ன செங்கண் வராஅல்
துடிக்கண் அன்ன குறையொடு விரைஇ
பகன்றைக் கண்ணிப் பழையர் மகளிர்
ஞெண்டு ஆடு செறுவில் தராய்க்கண் வைத்த
விலங்கல் அன்ன போர்முதல் தொலைஇ
வளம் செய் வினைஞர் வல்சி நல்க
துளங்கு தசும்பு வாக்கிய பசும் பொதித் தேறல்
இளங்கதிர் ஞாயிற்றுக் களங்கள் தொறும் பெறுகுவிர்
(Malaipadukadam 454 - 464 Poet Perunkundroor Perunkousikanar king Nannan Venman)
Hospitality in the Agricultural Land:In the Agricultural land fishermen with nets enter ponds with kanpu grass with fragrant flowers, and catch valai fish with big necks.  Some stand on the shore and catch with their rods with strings, red-eyed varal fish shaped like trunks of female elephants.  Fishermen's wives wearing pakandrai flowers will cook pieces of fish that look like eyes of drums. Along with fish they will serve them rice from mountain-like haystacks kept on mounds near fields. The bards will receive in the morning in every field liquor made with paddy sprouts. 

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Red-eyed varal fish விரால் மீன் (Channa striata) shaped like trunks
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வாளை மீன் (Trichiurus haumela)
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Red-eyed varal fish slices in broth
முள் அரித்து இயற்றிய வெள் அரி வெண் சோறு
வண்டு படக் கமழும் தேம்பாய் கண்ணித்
திண்தேர் நன்னற்கும் அயினி சான்ம் எனக்
கண்டோர் மருள கடும்புடன் அருந்தி
(Malaipadukadam 465 - 468 Poet Perunkundroor Perunkousikanar king Nannan Venman)
Hospitality in the Agricultural Land:In the Agricultural land, during morning hours, in every field the bards will receive cooked white rice removed of chaff,  which deserves to be served to Nannan owning sturdy chariots, along with liquor made with paddy sprouts.

Food Habits in Wealthy Home (செல்வர்களின் உணவு)

தொல்பசி அறியாத் துளங்கா இருக்கை
மல்லல் பேர் ஊர் மடியின் மடியா
வினைஞர் தந்த வெண்ணெல் வல்சி
மனைவாழ் அளகின் வாட்டொடும் பெறுகுவிர்
(Perumpanatruppadai 253 - 256 Poet Kadiyalur Urithirankannanar, king Thondaiman Ilanthiraiyan)
The Food that you will get in the Marutham land: In the houses situated in the prosperous town of the Marutham land, the minstrel advises the bard that if he stays there he will  receive food cooked with white rice brought by workers who do not tire, along with dishes cooked with house residing hens.

தண்டலை உழவர் தனி மனைச் சேப்பின்
தாழ்கோட் பலவின் சூழ் சுளைப் பெரும்பழம்
வீழ் இல் தாழைக் குழவித் தீம்நீர்
கவை முலை இரும்பிடிக் கவுள் மருப்பு ஏய்க்கும்
குலை முதிர் வாழைக் கூனி வெண்பழம்
திரள் அரைப் பெண்ணை நுங்கொடு பிறவும்
தீம்பல் தாரம் முனையின் சேம்பின்
முளைப்புற முதிர் கிழங்கு ஆர்குவிர்
(Perumpanatruppadai 355 - 362 Poet Kadiyalur Urithirankannanar, king Thondaiman Ilanthiraiyan)
Hospitality in the Groves: In the fragrant grove where the houses of farmers located in individual compounds, woven with the dried fronds of coconut trees, the bards will receive jack-fruits that grow low on the trees, sweet water of tender coconuts, curved, white bananas from bunches that look like the tusks on the cheeks of dark, female elephants with forked udders, along with tender nungu (ice fruit) of palmyra palms, and when you tire, you will receive the mature tubers of chēmpu that grow from sprouts.

Food in Neithal Tinai

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Neithal Tinai corresponds to seashore and adjoining terrains. Blue Water Lily Blue Nelumbo or Kuvalai or Kazhuneer or Neithal flower (Nymphae odorata) is mentioned as the native flower and hence the name Neithal Tinai. Lord Kadalon (a.k.a Varunan) was worshiped by the native people. The Neithal terrain is known for seashore and adjoining coastal land dotted with sand well (உவர்நீர்க் கேணி or கவர்நீர் (மணற் கிணற்று நீர்). Serppan (சேர்ப்பன்), Pulamban (புலம்பன்), Parathi (பரத்தி) and Nuzhaichi (நுழைச்சி) were the primary inhabitants and Nulaiyar (நுளையர்), Nulaichiyar (நுளைச்சியர்), Parathar (பரதர்), Parathiyar (பரத்தியர்), Alavar (அளவர்) and Alathiyar (அளத்தியர்) were the secondary inhabitants. Crocodile, shark (சுறா மீன்) and  Kara fish (கரா மீன்)  were native animal and fish. Sea-crow (கடற்காகம்), swan (அன்னம்) and Andril (அன்றில்) were the birds. Lovers of this land suffered due to 'longest separation' during sunset, in early summer season. They lived in coastal villages i.e., Pakkam (பாக்கம்) and pattinam (பட்டினம்). The fishermen engaged in fishing from ocean using fishing net. Womenfolk barter fish and salt and get paddy, meat and wine. Salting and drying the fish took place to preserve seafood.  They constructed fishing boats and skilled in surfing the waves.  Kandal (கண்டல்), Punnai (புன்னை), Gnazhal (ஞாழல்) trees occupied their terrain. The native music note of the land was Sevvazhi Note (செவ்வழிப் பண்) and the drum used was Navay drum (நாவாய்ப் பறை) and the stringed musical instrument was Vilari Lute (விளரி யாழ்).

Food Habits

கரும் புகைச் செந்தீ மாட்டிப் பெருந்தோள்
மதி ஏக்கறூஉம் மாசு அறு திருமுகத்து
நுதி வேல் நோக்கின் நுளை மகள் அரித்த
பழம் படு தேறல் பரதவர் மடுப்ப
கிளை மலர்ப் படப்பைக் கிடங்கில் கோமான்
தளை அவிழ் தெரியல் தகையோற் பாடி
அறல் குழல் பாணி தூங்கியவரொடு
வறல் குழல் சூட்டின் வயின்வயின் பெறுகுவீர்
(Sirupanatruppadai 156 - 163, Sirupanatruppadai Poet Nallur Nathathanar, king Oyman Nalliyakodan)
Seashore town of Eyirpattinam and hospitality of Fishermen: The minstrel advises the bard about the hospitality at the house of fishermen: If the go to Kidangil town with groves full of flower clusters and sing the praises of the noble king adorned with fresh bud garlands, with perfect rhythm and beats as their viralis dance, they will give him fried kulal fish cooked over akhil drift wood. 

வேறு புலம் படர்ந்த ஏறுடை இனத்த
வளை ஆன் தீம்பால் மிளைசூழ் கோவலர்
வளையோர் உவப்ப தருவனர் சொரிதலின்
பலம் பெறு நசையொடு பதிவயின் தீர்ந்த நும்
புலம்பு சேண் அகல புதுவிர் ஆகுவிர்
(Malaipadukadam 408 - 412 Poet Perunkundroor Perunkousikanar king Nannan Venman)
Nannan’s Enemies:In the land where the bards are going, there are enemies of Nannan who tremble at the thought of him.  If the bards tell them that they are going to see
king Nannan, a great donor who does not keep anything for himself, they will only benefit them like the wealthy, fine, ancient towns of Nannan. Bards! rest there in a relaxed manner before leaving. In the forest bangle-wearing females of cattle herders, will give you sweet milk of cows as white as conch shells.  The bards, who have set out with desire will be relieve of their sorrow, and become new person.

கல்லென கடத்திடைக் கடலின் இரைக்கும்
பல்யாட்டு இனிநிரை எல்லினிர் புகினே
பாலும் மிதவையும் பண்ணாது பெறுகுவிர்
(Malaipadukadam 415 - 417 Poet Perunkundroor Perunkousikanar king Nannan Venman)
Nannan’s Enemies:In the land where the bards are going, there are enemies of Nannan who tremble at the thought of him.  If the bards reach by night the noisy place where sounds in the forest are like those from the ocean, with many herds of sheep and goat mixed together like the different colors of rice obtained through bartering, you will be given milk and food that they cooked for themselves

சோறு வாக்கிய கொழுங்கஞ்சி
யாறு போலப் பரந்து ஒழுகி
(Pattinappalai 44 - 45 Poet Kadiyalur Urithirankannanar king  Cholan Karikalan)
The Public Kitchens in Kaviripoompattinam: In the public kitchens of Kaviripoompattinam, with tightly fitting doors bearing Chola Tiger emblem, When large quantity of rice is cooked in these kitchens and drained, thick water, drained from cooked rice poured on streets, ran like rivers, creating slush and mud.

கருந்தொழில் கலி மாக்கள்
கடல் இறவின் சூடு தின்றும்
வயல் ஆமை புழுக்கு உண்டும்
(Pattinappalai 63 - 65 Poet Kadiyalur Urithirankannanar king  Cholan Karikalan) 
Martial Art Field in Kaviripoompattinam: In the Martial Art field strong men show off their strengths. They gather with their many relatives and hordes of people from their clan. Warriors eat roasted shrimp and steamed field tortoises. 

மீன் தடிந்து விடக்கு அறுத்து
ஊன் பொரிக்கும் ஒலி முன்றில்
மணல் குவைஇ மலர் சிதறிப்
பலர் புகு மனைப் பலிப் புதவின்
நறவு நொடைக் கொடியோடு 
(Pattinappalai 176-180 Poet Kadiyalur Urithirankannanar king  Cholan Karikalan) 
Flags Hoisted in the Liquor Shops: In the liquor shops of Kaviripoompattinam, sizzling sounds of frying pieces of fish and meat are heard in the front yards.  Sand is heaped where rituals are performed with strewn flowers.  In these shops frequented by many, liquor is sold, and there are many flags at the entrance.
Food in Brahmin Settlement:

மறை காப்பாளர் உறைபதிச் சேப்பின்
பெருநல் வானத்து வடவயின் விளங்கும்
சிறுமீன் புரையும் கற்பின் நறுநுதல்
வளைக்கை மகடூஉ வயின்அறிந்து அட்ட
சுடர்க்கடை பறவைப் பெயர்ப்படு வத்தம்
சேதா நறுமோர் வெண்ணெயின் மாதுளத்து
உருப்புற பசுங்காய்ப் போழொடு கறி கலந்து
கஞ்சக நறுமுறி அளைஇ பைந்துணர்
நெடுமரக் கொக்கின் நறுவடி விதிர்த்த
தகைமாண் காடியின் வகைபடப் பெறுகுவிர்
(Perumpanatruppadai 301-310, Poet Kadiyalur Urithirankannanar, king Thondaiman Ilanthiraiyan)
What you will get in the brahmin Settlement: When they get to the Brahmin settlements at sunset, where fat calves are tied to the small poles of pavilions, floors are smeared with fresh dung, rituals are performed in fine houses where dogs and domestic fowl are not allowed, parrots with curved beaks are taught to recite the Vedas, women with fragrant brows and bangled arms, will serve well cooked rice that bears the name of a bird along with fresh pomegranate cooked with butter made from the milk of a red skinned cows, and fresh curry leaves and black pepper. They will also give fragrant pickles made with tender green mangoes (Vadu mango pickle).

p39a.jpg (400×320)
Pomegranate cooked wirh butter& pepper
Food in the Palace of Chieftain / King

“கா எரியூட்டிய கவர் கணைத் தூணிப்
பூ விரி கச்சைப் புகழோன் தன்முன்,
பனிவரை மார்பன், பயந்த நுண் பொருள்
பனுவலின் வழாஅப் பல் வேறு அடிசில்,
வாள் நிற விசும்பின் கோள்மீன் சூழ்ந்த
இளங் கதிர் ஞாயிறு எள்ளும் தோற்றத்து
விளங்கு பொற்கலத்தில் விரும்புவன பேணி,
ஆனா விருப்பின், தான் நின்று ஊட்டி, (சிறுபாணாற்றுப்படை 238-245)
And when they reach the king’s palace he will give: 
"He will give you toddy strong that stupefies like poison of snakes, and in golden plates that much surpass the morning sun that lights the sky, he will serve many dishes suited to your taste that are prepared according to the rules found in the treatise* that a hero wrote whose chest was as broad as the snowy mount” *The treatise refers to the work of Bhima of Mahabharata who lived for a year disguised as a cook.

“இழையணி வனப்பின் இன்னகை மகளிர்
போக்கு இல்பொலங்கலம் நிறையப் பல்கால்
வாக்குபு தரத்தர வருத்தம்வீட
ஆர உண்டுபேரஞர் போக்கிச்
செருக்கொடு நின்ற காலை”
(Porunaratruppadai 85-89, Poet Mudathamakkaniyar.  king Cholan Karikalan)
In the halls bejeweled, smiling, comely maids poured out from spotless golden vessels full like cheering rain much stupefying drink repeatedly. For my great sorrow to vanish, I drank a lot, and stood up with joy.

“துராஅய் துற்றிய துருவை அம்புழுக்கின்
கராஅரை வேவைப் பருகு எனத் தண்டி
காழின் சுட்ட கோழ்ஊன் கொழுங்குறை
ஊழின் ஊழின் வாய்வெய்து ஒற்றி
அவை அவை முனிகுவம் எனினே சுவைய
வேறுபல் உருவின் விரகுதந்து இரீஇ”
(Porunaratruppadai 103-108, Poet Mudathamakkaniyar.  king Cholan Karikalan)
Food served by the king Karikalvalavan: Knowing the time to eat, he urged me to eat cooked, thick thigh meat of sheep that were fed arukam grass twisted to ropes, and fatty, big pieces of meat roasted on iron rods.  I cooled the hot meat pieces, moving them from one side of my mouth to the other.

“முரவை போகிய முரியா அரிசி
விரல்என நிமிர்ந்த நிரல் அமைபுழுக்கல்
பரல்வறைக் கருனை காடியின் மிதப்ப
அயின்ற காலை”
(Porunaratruppadai 113-116, Poet Mudathamakkaniyar.  king Cholan Karikalan)
One day, he gave me boiled rice that looked like jasmine buds, all the grains of same size, unbroken, with no streaks, and long like fingers, along with stir-fried dishes, staying with me sweetly.

ஊண் அவர்களுக்கு வெறுத்துப்போய்விட்டதாம்.
கொல்லை உழுகொழு ஏய்ப்பப், பல்லே
எல்லையும் இரவும் ஊன் தின்று மழுங்கி,
உயிர்ப்பிடம் பெறாஅது, ஊண் முனிந்து 
(Porunaratruppadai 117-119, Poet Mudathamakkaniyar.  king Cholan Karikalan)
Filled to my neck with food I swallowed continuously day and night and my teeth became blunted like a plow that plowed a field. There was no time to breathe.  I hated food.

வல்லோன் அட்ட பல் ஊன் கொழும் குறை - பெரும் 472

Malaipadukadam (check)"At Nannan's palace you will receive fresh meat and white rice with no limits. You will enjoy this throughout your stay, as much as you want. He will give you perfect clothing, and tall chariots that run like flowing water, large herds of cattle, and horses with tufts decorated with gold jewels. He fills the hands of poets who have nothing with his large hands".

சேறும் நாற்றமும் பலவின் சுளையும்
வேறு படக் கவினிய தேம் மாங்கனியும்
பல்வேறு உருவின் காயும் பழனும்
கொண்டல் வளர்ப்பக் கொடி விடுபு கவினி
மென்பிணி அவிழ்ந்த குறு முறி அடகும்
அமிர்து இயன்றன்ன தீம்சேற்றுக் கடிகையும்
புகழ்படப் பண்ணிய பேர் ஊன் சோறும்
கீழ் செல வீழ்ந்த கிழங்கொடு பிறவும்
இன்சோறு தருநர் பல்வயின் நுகர
(Mathuraikanchi 527 -535 Poet Mangudi Maruthanar (Mangudi Kilar) king  Pandiyan king Neduncheliyan)
Types of Food in Mathurai city:In Mathurai city food is served to many, with sweet rice, segments of jackfruits with fragrance, beautiful, sweet mangoes, vegetables and fruits in many different shapes that grow on lovely vines with delicate sprouts that have opened into leaves, nurtured by the rains, sugar cubes that are like nectar, famed rice that is cooked with meat, tubers that go down into the earth and others.

நல்வரி இறாஅல் புரையும் மெல் அடை
அயிர் உருப்பு உற்ற ஆடு அமை விசயம்
கவவொடு பிடித்த வகை அமை மோதகம்
தீஞ்சேற்றுக் கூவியர் தூங்குவனர் உறங்க
(Mathuraikanchi 624 -627 Poet Mangudi Maruthanar (Mangudi Kilar) king  Pandiyan king Neduncheliyan)
The Second Phase of Night the Mathurai City: In the Mathurai city, the night market is getting closed. The shop keepers remove pole props and close the big shops where prices are called out. The vendors who sell delicate adais that are like honeycombs with fine lines and mothakams, that are made on the palms pressing fingers, with fillings with sugar syrup, also go to sleep,

  1. Fritz Graebner Encyclopedia Britanica
  2. Fritz Graebner Wikipedia
  3. Sangam Poems Translated by Vaidehi https://sangamtranslationsbyvaidehi.com/
  4. ஐந்திணைகளில் அமைந்துள்ள பதினான்கு வகையான வேறுபட்ட கருப்பொருள்கள்
  5. தமிழ் மக்களின் உணவு புலால் http://www.vinavu.com/2015/06/25/flourishing-meating-culture-in-tamil-history/
  6. சங்ககால சமையல் http://mazhimegam.blogspot.in/2014/01/1_30.html
  7. சங்ககாலத்து உணவும் உடையும் - 1 மா.இராசமாணிக்கனார் http://www.varalaaru.com/design/article.aspx?ArticleID=5
  8. சங்ககாலத்து உணவும் உடையும் - 2 மா.இராசமாணிக்கனார் http://www.varalaaru.com/design/article.aspx?ArticleID=5
  9. பண்டைய கால தமிழர்களின் உணவு முறை! http://suvanappiriyan.blogspot.in/2014/08/blog-post_7.html
  10. பண்டைய தமிழர் உணவுகள்
  11.  http://vairamani-lakshmi.blogspot.in/2011/08/blog-post_8263.html

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