Medieval Tamil Names
This is a collection of names in the Tamil language from southern India during the Chola period, approximately 850-1300 AD. During this period, Tamil was spoken in a much wider area than it is today; the people whose names are included in this article may have come from modern Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, or Sri Lanka.
The names are taken from translations of inscriptions in Hindu temples. All of the women and many of the men mentioned in this article lived or worked in these temples. The transcriptions record donations to the temples, and other exchanges of property. Women were important both as donors and as recipients.
My source is a book by Leslie Orr called Donors, Devotees, and Daughters of God: Temple Women in Medieval Tamilnadu. The book contains full translations of many inscriptions, and analysis of many more; this article includes only a small selection of the information available.
Notes on Name Formation
Men and women inside and outside the temples bore the names of gods. Even people who were not Hindu used the names of Hindu gods during this time period. However, temple women were significantly more likely than other women to use the name Nakkan, one of the names of the god S/iva. Both men and women also used the names of goddesses. These names were not linked to any particular religious office; in particular, temple women often bore the names of goddesses other than the consort of the god whose temple they served. Some women were named after the shrines or temples of gods. These were frequently distant, famous shrines; temple women were not named after the temples they lived in.
Several titles appear as suffixes. The suffix -ut.aiyâr indicates possession of land or property, and was usually born by men. The title -mân.ikkam or ruby was first born by queens, then later by temple women. During the Chola period, temple women also used the title -talaikkoli. Temple women do not appear to have inherited either of these titles.
Women occasionally used male names as given names during the Chola period. Some men used their father's name as an element of their own name; women also did so, but the practice was rather rare. (The practice of incorporating one's father's name in one's own name is much more common in modern Tamilnadu.)
Several of the people in this list were known by more than one name; often, the second name includes a title. I have listed both names, separated by the Latin word alias.
Transcription and Special Symbols
The transcription of these names largely follows the MTL system (Tamil Lexicon, University of Madras), except that medieval Tamil does not distinguish between long and short 'e' and 'o'. However, the MTL system uses several special characters that do not appear in normal HTML. In the following names, an asterisk following a letter, as in n*, represents a small dot over that letter; a period following a letter, as in t., represents a dot underneath the letter; a forward slash following a letter, as in S/, represents an acute accent over that letter. We have also used a circumflex to represent a flat line over a letter, as in â.
A brief introduction to the Tamil script is available here.
Name Position Date Nirupaton*kavarman a ruler 872 Ko Virâjakecaripanmar a ruler 875 Ko Parakesaripanmar a ruler tenth century S/rî Uttamacola son of a queen 992 Ko Râjarâjakesaripanmar ruler 992 Câramut.aiyân Arat.t.an Ikât.utevan member of the royal retinue 992 Appût.aiyân Âccan Pat.t.âlakan member of the junior division of the keepers of the royal ornaments 992 Âccan Kampan alias Tiruman.añceri Tirukarral.ippiccan courtier? 992 Mât.alan Maticûtar Câttanân Impânâyarpat.t.an 992 Mât.ilan Coti Colapân.t.iyan 992 Mât.ilan Nâtittañcâttan alias Pañcavan Mâtevipat.t.an 992 Mât.alan Ânûrren.man Piccan 992 S/rî Râjarâjadevar ruler 1014 Ko Râjakecaripanmar alias Cakkaravattikal. S/rî Kulottun*kacoladevar ruler 1045 S/rî Kuottun*kacoladevar a ruler 1119 Nerkunran* Kilân Kut.ameratiruvat.ikal. a nakarattâr of a town 1119 Kannuva Pâkkilân Vat.avâyi a nakarattâr of a town 1119 Câtinta Âccinatarat.ippan a nakarattâr of a town 1119 Nerkunran* Kilân Kaliyan Makiyan a nakarattâr of a town 1119 Man.appâkkîlan Karaikkiyemarrayilaiyân a nakarattâr of a town 1119 Nallulân Svâmi Amutu a nakarattâr of a town 1119 Nerkunra Kilân Ori Vat.avâyil a nakarattâr of a town 1119 Mâmpâkkamut.aiyân Mârkan.t.aiyan Civakkoluntân Catturukâlamakalâtittan accountant 1119 Vikkiramcolatevar ruler 1124 Ko Râjakecaripanmar alias Cakkaravattikal. S/rî Kulottun*kacoladevar ruler 1145 Tiripuvanaccakuravarttikal. S/rî Râjâdhirâjadevar ruler 1172 Tiru Orriyûr Ut.aiyân Uravâkkinân temple accountant 1172 Pat.ampakûn Vallamut.aiyân shepherd 1172 S/rî Kulottun*kacolatevar ruler 1198 S/rî Tirupuvanavîratevar ruler 1213 Munnûrruvappiriyan temple accountant 1213 Tennavan mûventavel.ân temple manager 1213 Kon.t.ân s/rîmâhes/vara supervisor 1213 Munnûrruvappat.t.an temple servant 1213 Pâlarâvâyan temple servant 1213 Amutan Campantan temple servant 1213 Ko Mârapanmar alias Tripuvanacakkaravattikal. Con.ât.ukon.t.arul.ina S/rî Cuntarapân.t.iyatevar ruler 1220 Cattan Mânaticcuran alias Viranârâyan.apat.t.an civappirâman.ar (s/ivabrâhman.a) of a temple 1220 Ponnampi Vel.l.antân*kinân Tiruccirrampalapat.t.an civappirâman.ar (s/ivabrâhman.a) of a temple 1220 Eccavarâkan Ân.t.amâl alias Kotukulapat.t.an civappirâman.ar (s/ivabrâhman.a) of a temple 1220 Umaiyâlvânâvin Kanru alias Niyâyaparipâlapat.t.an civappirâman.ar (s/ivabrâhman.a) of a temple 1220 Ciriyân Cevakattevan alias Nârpatten.n.âyirapat.t.an civappirâman.ar (s/ivabrâhman.a) of a temple 1220 Perumâl. alias Kirâmarâcapat.t.an civappirâman.ar (s/ivabrâhman.a) of a temple 1220 Eccavarâkan Mâtevapat.t.an civappirâman.ar (s/ivabrâhman.a) of a temple 1220 Ponnampi Umaiâlvân alias Âyirattal.ipat.t.an civappirâman.ar (s/ivabrâhman.a) of a temple 1220 Sakalabhuvanaccakkaravattikal. S/rî Avaniyâl.appirantâr alias Ko Peruñcin*tevar ruler 1250 Tennavan Brahmamârâyar s/rîmâhes/vara temple supervisor 1250 Jayatun*kapallavaraiyar s/rîmâhes/vara temple supervisor 1250 Ulaiccân.an Tirunat.t.apperumâl. Civan landowner 1250 Kulottun*kacola Piramârâyan Brahman 1250
Name Position Date Nakkan Kâl.i a temple woman of S/rîkan.t.apuram 872 Centan Ceyyavâyman.i a temple woman of Tiruvaran*kam 875 Nakkan Piratamâtevi alias Mumut.icolat-talaikkoli a temple woman tenth century Cempiyan Mahâdeviyâr queen 992 Nakkan Ceraman*kai temple woman 1014 Nakkan Iran.amukarâmi temple woman 1014 Irâjacuntari temple woman 1045 Cuntari Utayaiñceytâl. alias Pûventiyacola-mân.ikkam a temple woman of Lord Matukulamâtevîs/varam 1119 Nakkan Cân.i a temple woman 1124 Irâjacuntari a temple woman (mahâ-devarat.iyâl., lit. "devotee of the Great God") 1145 Câni Orriâlvi temple accountant 1172 Tillaivanamut.aiyâl. Matatilli temple woman (tevarat.iyâl.) 1172 Ut.aiyaval. alias Nârpatten.n.âyira-mân.ikkam temple woman 1213 Ûyakkon.t.ân Civallapatevi temple woman 1213 Periyanâcci temple woman, given as a gift to the god to husk paddy for the feeding hall 1235 Mâri temple woman, daughter of Periyanâcci, given as a gift to the god to husk paddy for the feeding hall 1235 Pil.l.aiyâr Cirrit.ai Arivai temple woman 1250 Cen*kot.an Pûvân.t.i temple woman 1252
Leslie Orr, Donors, Devotees, and Daughters of God: Temple Women in Medieval Tamilnadu, New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Last revised September 2004 by Ursula Whitcher, alias Ursula Georges