Smearing the Drums (contd.)

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Tue Jan 16 20:34:58 EST 2001

> From the above evidence it seems possible that all the Near Eastern words,
Old Babylonian kinnArum included, actually go back to an Amorite etymon. Yet
the word looks decidedly non-Semitic in its structure (Jussi Aro, oral
communication). It would seem possible to connect Dravidian kin-nara(m) with
kinnArum by assuming that it was, as a cultural word, borrowed by the
Amorites from Harappan traders in the entrepots of the Persian Gulf (cf. the
later introduction of the instrument and its name from Canaan to Egypt: Helck
1962, 540). This would have taken place in the 20th century B.C., leaving
just enough time for the kinnArum to become a thoroughly assimilated Amorite
item by the 18th century. The Amorites cannot have reached the Persian Gulf
much earlier, and the word was in all probability borrowed just there and not
in Mesopotamia, because the word is not found in Sumerian."

> There is a
>  Hurrian derivation, kinnaruhuli, "kinnaru-player", or perhaps
>  "kinnaru-maker"? attested at Alalah in Syria. Kinnaru is attested from Old
>  Babylonian times (eighteenth century BC) and later at Ugarit.

See Parpola's quote above.

> Musicians and singers, too, were highly regarded, as they took part
>  in all kinds of rituals. There were no "polluted" castes in Near East
>  societies.

Based on my research, the same was true of the Classical Tamil society as
well. Due to a cultural discontinuity in the post-CT period caused by
religions espousing vegetarianism, an understandable folk etymology was
coined, which interpreted the terms referring to the CT musicians and the
priests as outcastes! This folk etymology has commanded the allegiance of
the Tamil scholars ever since (more than 1500 years). Anthropological
findings pertaining to the contemporary society have been retroactively and
anachronistically deemed to apply to the society of the CT period. Scholars
have failed to take into account the discontinuity in the Tamil value system
after the CT period.

S. Palaniappan

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