[INDOLOGY] On koṇṭi makaḷir

palaniappa at aol.com palaniappa at aol.com
Sun Jan 11 07:50:18 UTC 2015

In Classical Tamil texts we come across 'koṇṭi makaḷir' in two instances. In the Maturaikkāñci (MK), following Nacciṉārkkiṉiyar, the commentator, it is usually interpreted as courtesans who 'capture' the wealth from their clients.  In the Paṭṭiṉappāḷai (PP), it is interpreted as referring to women captured from the defeated ruler's household after a war.  In my examination of the usage of the word 'koṇṭi', it seems to connote the meaning of 'possession/property/wealth'. As a result, I do not think 'koṇṭi makaḷir' in PP referred to captive women at all. 'kōṇṭi makaḷir' literally meant 'women of possession'. Essentially it was the equivalent of 'ladies' or 'women of high status'. In other words, it seems to be synonymous with the later usages of 'naṅkai' or āṇṭi' or āḷvi'/'āḻvi' or 'āḷvār'/'āḻvār' or 'cāṉi'/'cāṇi' < 'svāmini'. During later times 'koṇṭi' was used as part of the names of both men and women just as 'āṇṭi' or 'āḷvār/'āḻvār' was. 

I would appreciate any comments.



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