Know the Etymology: 108
Place Name of the Day: Saturday, 09 September 2017


Muḷḷiya-vaḷai, Kaḻutā-vaḷai/ Kaḷutā-vaḷai, Kumpaḻā-vaḷai, Āḻiya-vaḷai, Kōṇā-vaḷai, Taṉi-vaḷai

முள்ளியவளை, கழுதாவளை/ களுதாவளை, கும்பாழாவளை, ஆழியவளை, கோணாவளை, தனிவளை
Muḷḷiya-vaḷai, Kaḻutā-vaḷai/ Kaḷutā-vaḷai, Kumpaḻā-vaḷai, Āḻiya-vaḷai, Kōṇā-vaḷai, Taṉi-vaḷai

Muḷḷi+a+vaḷai
Kaḻutai+ā+vaḷai
Kumpal+ā+vaḷai/ Kumpalā+vaḷai
Āḻi+a+vaḷai
Kōṇam+vaḷai
Taṉi+vaḷai


The circuit or surroundings found with Muḷḷi plants

The circuit or surroundings found with Kaḻutai-muḷḷi plants

The circuit or surroundings found with Kampaḻā shrubs; or the Potters' circuit

The seaside circuit or surroundings

The remote circuit or the corner circuit

The secluded or detached circuit


Vaḷai1 circle, circuit, surroundings, surrounding area, environs, locality (a suffix in Eezham Tamil place names); circle, circuit, surrounding region (Tamil, MTL, DED 5313); surrounding area (Tamil, inscription, SII, v, 679); Vaḷe: surroundings, surrounding area (Tamil, inscription, 691 CE, SII, i, 151); Vaḷaiyiṟ-cuṟṟu: place around (Tamil, inscription, SII, iii, 12); Vaḷaivu: place name suffix noted in southern Tamil Nadu, meaning a circle, circuit or part in a village (as in Mēla-vaḷaivu and Kīḻa-vaḷaivu in Madurai district of Tamil Nadu); Vaḷai, Vaḷāvu: (verb) to surround (Tamil, DED 5313); cognates in 8 Dravidian languages. Vaḷ: (verb) to curve, turn, as in Vaḷ-urul-nēmi for disc; (noun) curve as in Vaḷ-vāy-alaku for curved beak (Tamil, Kalittokai, 105: 9; Nammāḻvār, Tiruviruttam, 28); Val: (verb) to turn, turn round (Sanskrit, Monier Williams, CDIAL 11405, 11407); Vaḷai: to become crooked, bend (Tamil, DED 5314). See column 482 on Vaḷavu in Tamil and Valavu in Sinhala meaning premises/ house premises
Vaḷai2 hole, burrow (Tamil, MTL). See columns 262 and 399 for etymology and place names in Tamil and Sinhala
Muḷḷi thorny plants in general, term used for different plants having thorns (Tamil, MTL, Winslow, DED 4995); Hygrophila spinosa, "Nīr-muḷḷi" (Tamil, MTL, Akanāṉūṟu, 26: 1); from Muḷ: thorn, brier, thistle, bristle, spine, anything sharp or pointed (Tamil, DED 4995); cognates in 9 Dravidian languages
Kaḻutai1 in the context of the Tamil place names, probably, Kaḻutai-muḷḷi: a thorny plant commonly seen in coastal sandy places of the dry zone, holly-leaved bear's-breech, Acanthus ilicifolius (Tamil, DED 1365); the plant name seems to be related to Kaḻu: stake (Tamil, DED 1361); Kaḷu-muḷ: pointed weapons (Tamil, Kathiraiverpillai); note the linguistic relationship between Kaḻu and Kaṭu in meaning thorn
Kaḻutai2 ass, donkey (Tamil, DED 1364, Akanāṉūṟu, 89: 12); cognates in 13 Dravidian languages; Kaḷudệ: ass, donkey (Sinhala, Clough, Sorata); a cat-like animal, also bear (Sinhala, Sorata notes with question mark). Kaḷudệ-related Sinhala place names may be related any of the said animals.
Kumpaḻā1 probably meaning potters; related to Kuṁbalā: potter (Sinhala, Clough). Other examples are not seen in Tamil place names. See column 35
Kumpaḻā2 probably meaning a tree or shrub; as in Kūmpal: = Kumiḻ, a commonly seen shrub or small tree, Gmelina arborea (Tamil, DED, 1742); Kumpiḷ: Gmelina asiatica (Malayalam, DED 1742); Kumbiḷi: Gmelina arborea (Kodagu, DED 1742). See columns 165 and 35
Āḻi sea, seashore (Tamil, DED 396, Kuṟuntokai, 372: 4; Puṟanāṉuru, 330: 3-4); Āḻik-kaṭal: deep sea (Tamil, fishermen usage, Murukanantham, P. 40); Āḻ: (verb) to sink, plunge, be deep (Tamil, DED 396, Kuṟuntokai, 240: 5-6); cognates in 8 Dravidian languages. See column 102 on Āḻvāṉ-pāṭu
Kōṇā adjective of Kōṇam: remote, obscure place (Tamil, MTL); from meaning, corner, angle (Tamil, MTL, DED 2209); Kōṇa: corner, angle (Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit, etymology traced to Dravidian, CDIAL 3504); Kōṇ: crookedness, angle (Tamil, DED 2209); Kōṇu: (verb) to be bent, curved, be crooked, deviate (Tamil, DED 2209; cognates in 8 Dravidian languages); also Kūṉ: (noun) bend, curve; (Tamil, DED 1927, Kuṟuntokai, 51: 1); (verb) to curve (Tamil, Tirukkuṟaḷ, 108: 7); Kūṉu: (verb) to curve, become crooked (Tamil, DED 1927; cognates in 10 Dravidian languages); also, Koṉai: tip, end (Tamil, DED 2174); Kone: extremity, point, tip, end, corner (Kannada, Tulu, DED 2174; cognates in 7 Dravidian languages); Kona: (singular), Kon: (plural) end, corner, angle (Sinhala, Clough)
Taṉi(noun) singleness, seclusion, solitude, independence; (verb) to be alone, single, solitary, be separate, detached from company, have no equal, be deserted (Tamil, DED 3196; Kuṟuntokai, 166: 4; 246; 3-4); alone, single, individual (Sinhala, Clough); from Tāṉ, Taṉ: oneself (Tamil, DED 3196; cognates in 18 Dravidian languages including Brahui). See column 330 on Taṉi in Sinhala place names
A also Ā: attributive suffix, adjectival suffix or empty morpheme for conjunction, as in Muḷḷi+a+vaḷai (see column 88)


Vaḷai, as a place name suffix in Eezham Tamil, means a circuit, surroundings, environs or locality. The term, which is verb and noun, is listed as Dravidian. While the verbs Vaḷai and Vaḷāvu mean to surround, another verb Vaḷ in Tamil means to curve. The usages date back to Caṅkam diction.

Vaḷai, in toponymic shade of meaning is seen in Tamil inscriptions dating from 7th century CE. Vaḷaivu is a term of similar usage in place names of southern Tamil Nadu.

Vaḷavu in Tamil and Valavu in Sinhala also come rom the same root (see column 482).

Vaḷai in Tamil and Vaḷa in Sinhala have yet another meaning in place names, for which see column 482.

* * *


Toponymic usage of Vaḷai/ Vaḷe in Tamil inscriptions:

"பரமேச்சுர மங்கலத்துள் அகப்பட்ட வளெயில் சுற்று நிலம்" (Tamil, inscription, 691 CE, SII, I, 151, EI, xvii, 22)

"Paramēccura maṅkalattuḷ akappaṭṭa vaḷeyil cuṟṟu nilam" (Tamil, inscription, 691 CE, SII, I, 151, EI, xvii, 22)

The surrounding lands circuit coming under the township Paramēccura Maṅkalam


"நிலம் வளையிற் சுற்று முற்று முண்ணில மொழிவின்றியே" (Tamil, inscription, 990 CE, SII, v, 679)

"Nilam vaḷaiyiṟ cuṟṟu muṟṟu muṇṇila moḻiviṉṟiyē" (Tamil, inscription, 990 CE, SII, v, 679)

In this circuit, without excluding any land around


"நன் செய்யும் புன் செய்யும் வளையிற் சுற்றும்" (Tamil inscription, 944 CE, SII, iii, 12)

"Naṉ ceyyum puṉ ceyyum vaḷaiyiṟ cuṟṟum" (Tamil inscription, 944 CE, SII, iii, 12)

The wet cultivation lands, the dry cultivation lands and the circuit of all lands around


* * *


Reference to Muḷḷi plant and its curved thorns:

"கூன் முள் முள்ளிக் குவி குலைக் கழன்ற" (அகநானூறு, 26: 1)

"Kūṉ muḷ muḷḷik kuvi kulaik kaḻaṉṟa" (Akanāṉūṟu, 26: 1)

(Flowers) fallen from the thick bunches of the Muḷḷi plants of curved thorns




* * *


Reference to Muḷḷiya-vaḷai in the historiographical literature Vaiyāpāṭal:

"முள்ளி வளையாம் ஊரில் மன்னனான இரவி குலப் பரராசசேகரனும் வாழ்ந்தானன்றே" (வையாபாடல், 99)

"Muḷḷi vaḷaiyām ūril maṉṉaṉāṉa iravi kulap pararācacēkaraṉum vāḻntāṉaṉṟē" (Vaiyāpāṭal, 99)

King Pararācacēkaran of the solar dynasty lived in the village or town called Muḷḷi-vaḷai


* * *


Related to the verb Āḻ, meaning to be deep, Āḻi in Tamil/ Dravidian means sea as well as seashore. Even though this is a word found only in literature today, it is very much present in fishermen usage, as in Āḻik-kaṭal meaning deep sea (Glossary of Coastal Fishermen Usages, Murukanantham, 1990).

Āḻi as sea:

"கலன் ஆழியின் தோன்றும் ஓர் எயில்" (புறநானூறு, 338: 11-12)

"Kalaṉ āḻiyiṉ tōṉṟum ōr eyil" (Puṟanāṉūṟu, 338: 11-12)

The fort that is looking like a ship on the sea


Āḻi as seashore:

"பெருங் கடற்கு ஆழி அனையன்" (புறநானூறு, 330: 3-4)

"Peruṅ kaṭaṟku āḻi aṉaiyaṉ" (Puṟanāṉūṟu, 330: 3-4)

He is like shore to a vast sea


* * *


Muḷḷiya-vaḷai is a place and divisional headquarters in Mullaiththeevu district.

Kaḷutā-vaḷai is found as a place name in Manmunai South and Eruvilpattu division of Batticaloa and found as a locality name in Tampakāmam in Pachchilaippalli division of Kilinochchi district (Balasundaram, p. 178).

Kumpaḻā-valai, also Kumpuḷā-vaḷai, Kumpaḷā-vaḷai, Kumpiḷā-vaḷai is a locality in Aḷaveṭṭi in Valikamam North division of Jaffna district (V. Almanac, 2013-14, p. 114 gives the spelling as Kumpaḻā-vaḷai).

Āḻiya-vaḷai is in Vadamaradchi East division of Jaffna district. This is a seashore village facing Bay of Bengal

Kōṇā-vaḷai comes as a locality name in Tirunelvēli in Nallur division of Jaffna district and in Iṭaikkāṭu in Valikamam East division of Jaffna district (Balasundaram, p. 124).

Taṉi-vaḷai is a locality in Varaṇi in Thenmaradchi division of Jaffna district (Balasundaram, p. 376).

* * *


Some related place names:

Poṉṉā-vaḷai: Karainagar, Jaffna

Patu-vaḷai: Vadamaradchi North, Jaffna

Ampala-vaḷai: Pachchilaippalli, Kilinochchi. Ampalam: open hall or shed usually found on the roadside for public to take rest. See column 20

Kaṇṭā-vaḷai: Kandavalai, Kilinochchi. Kaṇṭā: 1. adjective of Kaṇṭal: mangrove; the place borders Elephant Pass Lagoon; 2. adjective of Kaṇṭam: paddy field; the place also has a paddy field tract. See columns 69 and 85

Ciṉṉā-vaḷai: Polikaṇṭi, Vadamaradchi Northeast, Jaffna (Balasundaram, p. 173)

Kal-vaḷai: Caṇṭilippāy, Valikāmam Southwest, Jaffna; Varaṇi, Thenmaradchi, Jaffna. Means stony surroundings, but may also mean stone quarry. See column 262

Vaṭṭiya-vaḷai: Tuṉṉālai, Vadamaradchi Northeast, Jaffna (Balasundaram, p. 211), Vaṭṭi: probably a bund, barrage, enclosure etc.; note another place name Vaṭṭi-pōṭṭa-maṭu

Kirā-vaḷai: Tuṉṉālai, Vadamaradchi Northeast, Jaffna (Balasundaram, p. 211). Kirāy: alkaline grassland. See column 99

* * *


Muḷḷi:

Muḷḷiyāṉ: Vadamaradchi East, Jaffna. Muḷḷi+āṉ; Āṉ: attributive suffix.

Muḷḷip-paḷḷam: Mannar Town, Mannar

Muḷḷik-kuḷam: Musali, Mannar

Muḷḷik-kaṇṭal: Manthai, Mannar

Muḷḷi-vāykkāl: Karaithuraippattu, Mullaiththeevu

Muḷḷip-pottāṉai: Tampalakāmam, Trincomalee; Koralaippattu, Batticaloa

Muḷḷip-puṟam: Puttalam, Puttalam

Mulli-vaṭṭavāṉ: Eravurpattu, Batticaloa

Muḷḷi-vayal: Puthukkudiyiruppu, Mullaiththeevu Muḷḷik-kirāy: Mantuvil, Thenmaradchi, Jaffna (Point Pedro OIS)

* * *


Kaḻutai:

Kaḷutaip-piṭṭi: Puṅkuṭutīvu, Kayts, Jaffna (Delft OIS)

Kaḻutāp-paḻai: Mātakal, Valikamam Southwest, Jaffna (a locality name from a map of Mātakal, Arul Subramaniam, Mātakal Mānmiyam, 2015, p. 15)

* * *


Kōṇā:

Kōṇā-vil: Karaichchi, Kilinochchi

Kōṇaṉ-kuḷam: Kandavalai, Kilinochchi

Kōṇā-mōṭṭai: Musali, Mannar

Kōṇā-vattai: Addalaichchenai, amparai

* * *


Taṉi: (Tamil)

Tanip-paṉai: Puṅkuṭutīvu, Kayts, Jaffna (Delft OIS)

* * *


Taṉi: (Sinhala)

Tani-polgaha-laňga: Ambalangoda, Galle

Tani-vẹlla-gama: Madampe, Puttalam

* * *


Notes on Muḷḷi:

The following are some types of Muḷḷi listed by Winslow:

Aṭukku-muḷḷi: Indian Hyssop

Āṟṟu-muḷḷi: a thorny plant found in rivers or banks of rivers

Kaṭal-muḷḷi: a type found in shallow sea or coast

Kaḻai-muḷḷi: a weed type

Kaḻutai-muḷḷi: Acanthus illicifolius

Cem-muḷḷi: the reddish type (Barleria)

Nīr-muḷḷi: Hygrophila auriculata

Vaṟal-muḷḷi: the arid zone type

Solanum indicum: the botanical term includes wild brinjal types such as Kaṇṭaṅ-kattari, Vaṭṭuk-kattari etc., also.

* * *


Mu'l'li
Neer Mu'l'li or Ka'ndal: Hygrophila auriculata or Asteracantha longifolia [courtesy: fleurs.cirad.fr]
Mu'l'li
Neer Mu'l'li: close-up [courtesy: fleurs.cirad.fr]
Mu'l'li
Kazhuthai Mu'l'li: Acanthus ilicifolius [courtesy: commons.wikimedia.org]
Mu'l'li
Adukku Mu'l'li: Indian hyssop. [courtesy: www.bwca.cc]
Mu'l'li
Mu'l'li (Wild Brinjal or Ka'ndangkaththari): Solanum indicum. [courtesy: biotech.tipo.gov.tw]


* * *



Revised: Saturday, 09 September 2017, 18:30

First published: Saturday, 23 August 2008, 22:59

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