[INDOLOGY] query: 18 ;sre.nii jaatis

palaniappa at aol.com palaniappa at aol.com
Mon Oct 14 06:47:40 UTC 2013

We should keep in mind that the list of Tamil groups did not indicate caste groups always. And their indicated status was not true for earlier historical period. For instance, paṟaiyaṉ was not an untouchable in the 11th century.  Occaṉ (should be really ōccaṉ aka uvaccaṉ) were not Dalits. In fact, earlier, uvaccaṉ represented titles of those who played drums in the temples, which included brahmins too. Paḷḷi could indicate vaṉṉiyar.  Valaiyaṉ could represent those belonging to the valaiyar caste, who hunt small game and today call themselves Muthurajas. Pāṇaṉ was a bard long before he was a tailor. 


-----Original Message-----
From: Whitney Cox <wmcox at uchicago.edu>
To: Ashok Aklujkar <ashok.aklujkar at gmail.com>
Cc: Indology List <indology at list.indology.info>
Sent: Sun, Oct 6, 2013 2:56 pm
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] query: 18 ;sre.nii jaatis

Dear all,

In an earlier off-list message to Patrick, I suggested that the hīnajatayaḥ in question might have been part of the 'left-hand' communities in the far South, sometimes reckoned as eighteen in number.  In the light of Ashok and Madhav's interesting comments, I would like to revise that suggestion, and instead propose that we might see here a reflex of another set of South-Indian caste-communities referred to in Tamil as the kuṭimakkaḷ, perhaps best rendered 'people of the village'.  The entry s.v. in the Madras Tamil Lexicon reads (with my transliteration and bracketed translations):

kuṭimakkaḷ, n.< id. +. 1. Sub-castes rendering service in a village, being 18 innumber, viz.,vaṇṇāṉ [washerman], nāvitaṉ[barber], kuyavaṉ [potter], taṭṭāṉ [goldsmith], kaṉṉāṉ[brazier], kaṟṟaccaṉ [mason], kollaṉ [blacksmith], taccaṉ[carpenter], eṇṇeyvāṇikaṉ [oil merchant], uppuvāṇikaṉ[salt merchant], ilaivāṇikaṉ [betel merchant], paḷḷi[watchman], pūmālaikkāraṉ [garland maker], paṟaiyaṉ [Dalit,pariah], kōvilkuṭiyāṉ [conch-blower], occaṉ [? another Dalitcommunity], valaiyaṉ [fisherman], pāṇaṉ [tailor].

Note that this list begins with washermen, just like Devaṇṇabhaṭṭa's.  I recall reading somewhere--though I may be misremembering--that there is some suggestion that D. hailed from the Dravidian south, thus possibly making this list a good potential set of parallels to the Smṛticandrikā.  Of course, sets of eighteen are very common, and the particular contents of any such list liable to vary according to time, place, and circumstances.  



On Sun, Oct 6, 2013 at 2:14 PM, Ashok Aklujkar <ashok.aklujkar at gmail.com> wrote:

I earlier wrote: "The listed business communities could have had distinctive turbans or headdresses.< Another possibility is that all of them or almost all of them customarily wore some kind of turban or head covering (not necessarily a distinctive one for each of them).

The people mentioned are only *relatively* hiina or 'lower, inferior' They are not in the lowest stratum.Having a headdress could have served to distinguish them.

It is very common in the listed communities even today in India  to have a cap or turban on the head.

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