This article offers a small collection of women's names from one part of the Indian sub-continent. Pre-1600 India was home to a large, complex collection of diverse languages and cultures, so names from one time and place cannot be transferred to another except on the basis of additional research. This article is only a first step in the very large task of researching period Indian names.
The source for these names is Epigraphical Glossary on Inscriptions -- Vol. VI Part II (Sri Garib Dass Oriental Series No. 23) ed. by V. Vijayaraghavacharya (Delhi, Indiā Sri Satguru Publications, 1984).
This source was chosen for this sampling purely on the basis of the ease with which women's names could be identified, extracted, and clearly dated from it. The women mentioned are, in general, either members of ruling families or associated with the temple where the inscriptions were located. I have not done the research to determine how typical these names are of India in general or of any period other than the one in which they are found. However, the names appear to be classical Sanskrit, and it is quite possible that names from this tradition would be relatively conservative and both applicable to a wider time-span and relatively consistent throughout cultures in India where Sanskrit was the language of higher culture and education.
Tirupati is a city in southeastern Andhra Pradesh state, southern India, about 67 miles NW of Madras. It is the site of a major Hindu shrine.
In general, when there are two name elements, the format seems to be [family name][given name], at least, individuals identified as siblings tend to share the first element of the pair and differ in the second. Examples where this does not appear to be the case are noted. In some cases, a person was known by two forms of a name, hence the aka in parentheses. Dates are that of the inscription or, in a few cases, simply a reference date in the woman's life. In some cases, no specific date was mentioned, and I have noted these with a question mark after the name.
A large number of the names include the element amman either as an ending or as a hyphenated suffix. I've done some preliminary poking around to see if this has some special significance that it might be useful to know, but I haven't been able to discover anything on it.
A note on the transcriptions. The transcription of Indian languages involves several modified characters that I have rendered with the available symbols. The interpretation is as follows.
t. th. d. n. s. -- These stand for the letter with a dot underneath, and represent retroflex versions of the ordinary sound, i.e. they're made with the tongue curled back, as the way many Americans pronounce the letter r.
The letter n when it appears before k or g has a line (or dot) over it indicating that it represents the sound ng rather than n, but since this is completely predictable from the context (and follows normal English phonology) I have not indicated it.
|Bejji (aka Bejjammā)||1538|
|Lakshmī Amman |
(aka Lakshmī Ammangār)
|1511 (two-part given name? 4 different women of this name)|
|Lingi (aka Lingasāni)||1533|
|Sāmavai (aka Kād.avan Perundēvī)||?|
|Tirumalamman||1517 (also three other women of this name)|
|Vengal.u (aka Vēngal.amman)||1524|
Layout, editting, and publishing by þorfinn Hrolfsson & Arval Benicoeur. Formatting updated by Aryanhwy merch Catmael, 04Dec13.