RV. asi - L. ensis < black (metal)?

RM. Krishnan poo at GIASMD01.VSNL.NET.IN
Wed Nov 22 19:27:06 EST 2000


At 06:23 AM 11/22/00 -0800, you wrote:
>Dear Indologists,
>
>In Dravidian languages, the word
>for iron (=tam. irumpu) derives from
>words for "night/darkness/black".
>
>DED 2102 Ta. "iravu, ira, irA, rA" night;
>"iru" black; "iruTci, iruTTu, iruNmai, irumai"
>darkness; "iruL" darkness, dark color, ignorance
>... Ka. "iruL, iraLu, iraTu, irLu" night;
>"iddal, ijjalu" charcoal....
>Te. "irulu" darkness, shades, shadows;
>"irulu konu" to become dark or obscure;
>"rEyi" night
>
>DED 411 Ta. "irumpu" iron, instrument, weapon.
>Ma. "irumpu, irimpu" iron. Te "inumu" iron.
>
>Given that the IA languages use zyaama- or
>kRSNa- ayas when iron gets attested in YV, AV
>etc., and South India has a major role in
>iron technology (eg., steel), Is the name
>of iron as zyaama or krsna coming from the southern
>tradtion?
>
>In other words, zyaama/krishna (OIA) and irumpu (tamil)
>for iron restricted to Indian subcontinent?
>
>What was iron called in Mesopotamia and the Near East?
>
>Thanks for comments,
>SM
>
>--- Periannan Chandrasekaran <perichandra at YAHOO.COM> wrote:
> > It is worth drawing the attention to the family of Dravidian
> > words with the root *ay/*Ay = minute, fine, small, sharp, and iron.
> > And to the word irumpu = iron, weapon and *ir = dark;
> >
> > DEDR #193:
> > Ta. ayil: = javelin, lance, surgical knife, lancet;
> > Ma. ayil: = javelin, lance; ayiri = surgical knife, lancet
> >
> > DEDR #192:
> > Ta. ayil: iron
> > Ma. ayir, ayiram = any ore
> > Ka. aduru = native metal;
> > Tu. ajirda karba = very hard iron
> > Note that DEDR #341 lists Ma. ayiram = iron dust
> >
> > Now we look at the most important entry
> > DEDR #341:
> > [note that the Northen languages have only the as- form]
> > Ta. Acu = minuteness, fineness, acuteness, trifle, anything small or mean;
> > Ay = to diminish, be reduced;
> > ..acai = to be slender;...
> > ai = minuteness;
> > ayir = subtelty, fineness, fine sand, candied sugar;
> > Ma. asu = thin, slender; ayir, ayiram = iron dust.
> > Ka. asi, asa = thinness, leanness, slenderness, minuteness...
> > asidu = that which is thin;
> > ...
> > Te. asadu = small, slender; asi = slight;
> > Kur. AcA = thin, attenuated, reduced in strength, slender, slim;
> > AcnA = to turn out thin, grow thinner;
> >
> > DEDR #342:
> > Ta. Acu = hilt;
> > Ka. Ayuga =handle of a sword
> >
> > DEDR #191 applies the root *ay to small fish:
> > Ta. ayirai = loach; ayilai = a kind of fish;
> > Ma. ayira = a kind of small fish; loach
> >
> > DEDR #486:
> > Ta. irumpu =iron, instrument, weapon
> > Ma. irumpu, irimpu = iron;
> > Ko. ib = <id>
> > To. ib = needle
> > Kod. irimbi = iron;
> > Te. inumu = <id.>
> > Kol. inum = iron, sword
> > Cf. DEDR 2552 Ta. iravu.
> >
> > DEDR #2552:
> > Ta. iravu, ira, irA, rA, iru,... = night; iru = black;
> > iruTci, iruTTu, irumai = darkness;
> > ...[ and so on in about 13 Dravidian languges including
> > northern ones]
> >
>

In Tamil, the word 'pon' is used for Gold and also just 'metal'.

Sem pon > sembu = Red metal = copper
veL pon > veNbu = veLLi = white metal = Silver
irum pon > irumbu = black metal = iron

there are also many words starting with k and gradually getting softened
over the years and turn into h and eventually lose the initial sound.

One interesting example is as follows:

kuru - red
kuruthi - blood (the red one)
kuruthayam - organ handling blood
kuruthayam> huruthayam. Moving to Sanskrit it becomes hruthayam>hrithayam.
It comes back to Tamil as Iruthayam. It further turns into Ithayam.
Now the original meaning (very scientific too!) of the organ handling blood
is completely lost in the modern context. I have not seen this explanation
anywhere. If there are any, I would like to know.

In a similar context, we can look for the similarity of krishNa and iru.

We start with the root 'kal' meaning dark/black. Numerous words have sprung
from this root.Let us restrict ourselves to the present case.

kal> karu > kari
 From karu , we form the word karuNam meaning blackness. karuNan - black
person. karuNan will also become kaNNan with Tamil usage. (like peruNai
meaning river became peNNai)
The same karuNan may turn into kruNan>kruNa>krushNa>krishNa in Sanskrit.
Similarly it is possible karum  can turn into hurum>hrum>hirum>irum by
moving to the Northern tongue and back.

The word SyamA could be related to mAyam - meaning black.

mayoN is of course the black one.

I have also read somewhere (but do not remember the reference) that the
oldest iron ore mine in India is the one existing near Salem in Tamil Nadu.
Is it true?

Hope it helps.

With regards,
irAma.ki


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