Etymology of 'tanU'

S Krishna mahadevasiva at
Sun Jul 13 22:10:02 UTC 1997

S.Palaniappan writes:
By the way, in case of 'tuki' we are talking about a period at least 
1000 years earlier than the time you had mentioned. The Kerala region 
seems tohave had a long documented history of Jewish settlement going 
back  to atleast 2nd century AD. The trading relationship probably is 
much older.

I do realise that I was mistaken in saying that this tukki<togai 
business was from the 5th century A.D. .Mea Culpa. I was basing this on 
the fact that the ancient Tamil civilization had reached a zenith
in terms of foriegn trade from 200 AD onwards to 500 AD.(I picked the 
later date while writing the earlier post). After sending the post, I 
realised that there was no Jewish ruled territory after 46 A.D., when 
Masada fell...I realised that there could have been no interaction after 
that since there existed no Jewish civilization/Judah around 500 AD 
since Judah had completely fallen by then. However, I would like to 
point out that according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, "Tamil trade 
with the ancient Greeks and Romans is verified by literary, linguistic 
and archeological evidence". There is no mention of Hebrew interaction.
  On reflecting about it, I would like to point out that there was a lot 
of interaction between the Greeks, Romans and Tamils, but even if this 
were dragged to the earliest point, seems to be around the year 20 B.C., 
when a Pandyan king sent his emissary to Athens where he was recieved by 
Augustus at Athens. I donot know of any evidence or text
that points to interaction as early as 500 B.C.. 
   As is known, the temple in Jerusalem was constucted first in 920 B.C. 
by Solomon and was destroyed around 600 BC when the Babylonians overcame 
  The restoration of Judah was around 535 BC and the temple was 
reconstructed soon after that( This could have been no later than 500 
BC, which is why I said in an earlier paragraph that there was no 
interaction between the two cultures around 500 BC).
  By the times the ancient Tamils took to the seas in a big way for the 
purpose of trade( no earlier than 20-50 BC), the second kingdom of Judah 
was in trouble. By the year 66 BC, the second temple had been destroyed 
as a result of unsuccesful revolts directed against Roman rule.
  I know not of any other construction in Jerusalem for which material 
was brought in from far and wide other than the construction these two 
  This is why I found the mention of material from the ancient Tamil 
country being used for the the construction of the temples( the later 
around 535-500 BC) strange and anachronistic. There is a story about the 
navy of Tharshish bringing presents from India to King Solomon in the 
book of Kings, but this has been proved to be historically inaccurate; 
pls note that the Ancient Tamil civilization as we know it now did not 
exist during the time of Solomon.( Even the earliest traces go back no 
earlier than 500 BC and these certainly don't refer to taking to the 
seas). Other examples of proved anachronisms include a temple to 
Augustus in Tamil Nadu( from the resemblance of the words Agatsya, a 
popular and recurring figure in the history/mythology of ancient Tamil 
Nadu). I have not read Parasuramans book ( and therefore cannot pass 
final judgement) which was quoted earlier in this thread, but based on 
the above evidence, I doubt STRONGLY if material from N.India/Tamil 
country made it even to the second construction, the first construction 
being a myth. Needless to say, I will peruse Parasuramans book and try 
to understand his arguments.

  I would also like to add at this stage that it was not my intention to 
throw stones at the derivation of "tanU" but simply an attempt to 
analyze a sentence in the introduction.( I have followed the argument
on "tanU", I agree with it and I haven't criticized this any of my 
postings). My point was that if one were to look for words and meanings 
and come to conclusions based on similarity in them without examining 
history of contacts between two civilizations( not applicable in the 
case of tanU, since there was contact between the  civilizations 
concerned), one may come to wrong conclusions; it is possible that these 
may have come through random duplication. This is the reason why I gave 
the examples of Chinese/Tamil "nee" and Kannada/Korean "innu". Since 
linguistics is proving so "painful" to discuss/prove my point, let us 
look at random duplications in naming patterns: The usual method of 
writing a persons name is to write the given name followed by the middle 
name(s) followed by the family name;
the exceptions to this rule are in China,Japan,Korea( one contagious 
geographical unit), Andhra Pradesh and Hungary where the family name is 
written first followed by the "middle name(s)" followed by the 
"first/Christian" name. I am sure that this came about independently and 
had nothing to do with each other.
  Likewise, the use of the fathers name as middle name is prevalent 
among the Russians and in Maharashtra/Gujarat; this also is a case of 
random duplication and has nothing to do with borrowing.
  The habit of using the mothers family name as opposed to fathers 
family name is prevalent among the Nairs in Kerala and in parts of 
Central Africa.( another case of random duplication).
  There are examples of random duplication in social customs, dress 
habits( nothing to do with weather; note that the sari is traditionally 
worn by women in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu over the left 
shoulder, Maharashtra, Bengal and Andhra follow the right shoulder 
pattern....this is a case of random duplication, note that the sari is 
worn in different ways in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu in spite of 
extensive interaction in the 17th century, but there is similarity 
between Gujarati and Tamil styles though the contact was restricted to 
the immigration of the Palkaar/Saurashtrian community)
and many other things. 
  My only concern was that if taken by itself( i.e. ignoring the 
widespread prevalence of random duplication), the orginal sentence on 
which I had remarked can lead to erroneous conclusions.
 Before I depart, I would like to say that
1. My comments take away nothing from the "tanU" argument and was not 
intended to criticize it.
2. I did not wish to hurt anybodys feelings; if I did,I must offer my 
heartfelt apologies to them.


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