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.

Men's Names

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 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 Impânâ 992
Mât.ilan Coti Colapân.t.iyan 992
Mât.ilan Nâtittañcâttan alias Pañcavan Mâ 992
Mât.alan Ânû 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.aiyânrkan.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
Munnû 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
Cattannaticcuran alias Viranârâ civappirâ (s/ivabrâhman.a) of a temple 1220
Ponnampi Vel.l.antân*kinân civappirâ (s/ivabrâhman.a) of a temple 1220
Eccavarâkan Ân.t.amâl alias civappirâ (s/ivabrâhman.a) of a temple 1220
Umaiyâlnâvin Kanru alias Niyâyaparipâ civappirâ (s/ivabrâhman.a) of a temple 1220
Ciriyân Cevakattevan aliasrpatten.n.â civappirâ (s/ivabrâhman.a) of a temple 1220
Perumâl. alias Kirâmarâ civappirâ (s/ivabrâhman.a) of a temple 1220
Eccavarâkan Mâ civappirâ (s/ivabrâhman.a) of a temple 1220
Ponnampi Umaiâln alias Â civappirâ (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
Ulaiccâ Tirunat.t.apperumâl. Civan landowner 1250
Kulottun*kacola Piramârâyan Brahman 1250

Women's Names

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. aliasrpatten.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 Arivai temple woman 1250
Cen* 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