World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Naming conventions of ancient Tamil country

Article Id: WHEBN0041273697
Reproduction Date:

Title: Naming conventions of ancient Tamil country  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Chronology of Tamil history, Education in ancient Tamil country, Legal system of ancient Tamil country, Sangam period, Sources of ancient Tamil history
Collection: Names by Culture, Naming Conventions, Tamil History
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Naming conventions of ancient Tamil country

Naming conventions of the Tamilakam in the Sangam literature have been one of the foremost concerns of Tamilology. The Surnames of the Caṅkam Age: Literary & Tribal, published in 1968 sought to offer one of the earliest treatments in this area.


  • Background 1
  • Tolkappiyam classifications 2
  • Wilden classifications 3
  • Tantaipeyar 4
  • Fives parts of a name 5
    • Dynastic name 5.1
    • Titles 5.2
  • See also 6
  • References 7
    • Bibliography 7.1


The Cankam literature is thematically divided into akam and puram. The poets worked under a convention of anonymity, not exposing the names of the heroes, heroines and friends in their poems, particularly in the former, in order to underline the universality of the feelings expressed in their poetry.[1]

Tolkappiyam classifications

The Tolkāppiyam identifies ten categories of names. An̲n̲i Mirutalakumāri Tāmacu claims to have completely revealed the basis on which the Tamils adopted their names.[2]

Wilden classifications

Eva Wildern identifies four types of names found in the Sangam literature: proper names, proper names connected with a name of a place or a dynasty, proper names with epithets and imagery names.[3] This convention was codified in the Tolkāppiyam.[4]


This tradition involves firstly having the father's name followed by one's own name. This system was carried even into the medieval period.[5]

Examples include cēramān, meaning "son of Chera" composed of cēra and makan, or vēlmān, meaning "son of Vel" composed of vēl and makan.[6]

Fives parts of a name

The convention is remains that dynastic name is followed by the proper name. However, in the case of distinguished persons, there may be up to five parts to it.

Parimelazhagar[7] (c. 13th century) codified the Classical-era conventions in his explanation of the correct name of Yanaikatchai Mantaran Cheral Irumporai as Kōccēramān Yāṇaikkaṭcēi Māntarañcēral Irumpoṛai. meaning 'king' signifying his official title; Cēramān is the dynastic name; Yāṇaikkat 'Elephant-eyed' is a distinctive feature; Cēi is the iyatpeyar, or proper name; and Irumporai is an appellate.

Another example is Malayamān Cōzhiya Ēnati Tirukkaṇṇan. Malayamān is the dynastic name; Cōzhiya, "of the Chola Nadu; 'Ēnati" is the title of conferred by the King to the chief of the army in a ceremony known as Ēnatippatiyam;[8] and Tirukkaṇṇan is his iyatpeyar, or proper name.

Dynastic name

Poets spoke to kings about the need for children for carrying on the family or dynastic name.[9]

The dynastic or family name acts as a prefix and occurs before the actual name.[10]


Some titles such as 'Kō' meaning 'king' were acquired, while others were conferred by the King. Three titles particularly renowned were known as Etti, Enati and Kaviti.[11] Talaikkoli, Peraiyan and Marayan are a few of the other titles bestowed to eminent personalities in consideration to their talents in particular fields.[12]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Tāmacu 2003, p. 4.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.