The PuRanAnURu poem 343 was written by Paranar. This poem reflects certain peculiarities of the old Malayalam. The expression “cerkuntu” indicates that it reflects typical (nasal aspect) of Malayalam words and the poet could have belonged to Kerala region.
meen noduttu nel kuvaiyi misaiyambiyin
Fish was exchanged for paddy by the fisherfolk and paddy was kept as heaps on the boats called ambi. They boats with heaped paddy appeared like the houses on the shore. The houses stored with pepper bags would resemble the ships on the shore. Noduttal refers to the process of exchange of goods. But the term is translated as “to sell, price and sale” in the Madras University Tamil Lexicon 34. In Tamil, ‘kodu’ means to give and ‘nodu’ probably meant receiving, but by giving some objects as part of value based exchange. The term “nottutal” in Tamil is used in negative sense and “nottankai,” in colloquial form, refers to left hand. Probably, kodu and nodu are opposite actions, while koduttal was done with the right hand and noduttal was perhaps done with left hand, although now in the traditional context giving or receiving with left hand is considered a very bad manner. Probably ‘noduttal’ referred to give and take activity done simultaneously and it referred to exchange of goods.
The golden prize (material wealth) brought by the ships was carried to the shore by the small backwater boats called “kazhittoni.” This line suggests that Roman ships did not come to MuchiRi directly, and they were stationed a little away and the smaller boats that plied on the backwater bodies carried the gold that was brought by the Roman ships. This is an interesting reference that matches the description of the Periplus. Toni is mentioned as a type of boat in the Tamil Lexicon 35. Interestingly, the dugout canoe excavated at Pattanam in 2007 by the Kerala Council for Historical Research could be described as a Kazhittoni 36.
It is an interesting term that means that the gold coins were gifts. Parisam is considered to have derived from Sanskrit word “sparisam” and interpreted as bride prize and value in Tamil Lexicon 37 and Parisu means gift in Tamil 38. Only certain items were considered worth to be gifted and gold was one of them. Hence, probably gold was referred to here as ‘parisam.’ The wealth from the hills as well as from (through) the sea, was freely donated to the visitors by the Chera king Kuttuvan. Perhaps, he was acting as an agent of redistribution 39.
‘Polan’ means gold 40 and it also refers to jewel. Polanthar Kuttuvan means that the king was wearing gold ornaments, probably, the Roman Gold coins. Who was this Kuttuvan? Was he same as Cheran Chenguttuvan? It is not clear. Why does this poet mention about Kuttuvan, while the other poet of akam 149 refers only to the Chera? Evidence for gold and gold working has been found at the site of Pattanam. The town had the sea adjacent to it and the sea was making noise like a drum (muzhavu). “nalanchaal vizhupporuL” means good wealth. MuchiRi had a lot of wealth that benefited people.
“Even if you give that wealth (like those with MuchiRi) with great respect and reverence, I will not marry someone, who is not Puraiyan” says the heroine. The person who wanted to marry, perhaps a king, was not a “Puraiyan.” Puraiyan was a clan of ancient Chera country. “Poraiyan” is a title of the Chera kings. This reveals the clannish nature of the lady. Her father also had the same view. Because of this attitude, there was a chance for a battle and hence, the fate of the town is pitiable, says the poet. The main idea here is that even if the wealth was offered, it was not important, but the clan was.
Both the poems point to a kind of contempt for the new means of earning wealth that attracted many sections of the society in the Early Historic period. The poems underline the thought of some of the individuals who respected humane relationships and values more than the material wealth. Such kinds of thoughts and opposition develop in a context, when the new economy brings new means of earning easy wealth. A section of the Tamil society was conservative and was not willing to give respect to wealth, when compared to love and their clan affiliation.
MuchiRi in Tamil Brahmi Inscription
Muttupatti is located 10 km west of Madurai on the road leading to Kottayam, via Usilampatti, Teni, Kambam and Kumili, and also to via Bodinaickanur. This site is located close to beautiful granite hillocks that have been destroyed by granite quarrying. This site has evidence of rock paintings, microliths, and black- and- red ware pottery. The most important evidence at this site is the Brahmi inscriptions on the shelters that had rock beds carved for the Jain monks by the devotees 41.
One of the inscriptions refers to “nAkapErUr ataiy MuCiRi kodan iLamakan”. The name of the individual was muCiRiKOdan Ilamakan who was the “anTai” of nAgapErur is the interpretation of Iravatham Mahadevan 42. The inscription mentions about Mucirikkodan Ilamakan who donated a rock bed for a Jain monk. nAkapErur is identified with Nagamalaipudukottai, a small village located about 10 km west of Madurai 43. Mucirikkodu is identified with the Chera port MuchiRi 44. This site lies on the trade route that linked MuchiRi via Teni, Madurai and Azhagankulam on the east coast. The name Muyirikkodu is mentioned in the Cochin copper plate inscription of Bhaskara Ravivarman 45. ILamakan is identified as warrior attendant 46 or “Ilamakan” could be part of his name, while “Muyirikkodan” indicates his native place. Mahadevan dates this inscription to 1st century BCE. This inscription suggests that merchants were travelling to far away location and sometimes even settled there.
MuchiRi in Kerala and MusiRi near Trichy
A few settlements with the name MuchiRi are found in Tamil Nadu 47. MusiRi near Thiruchirappalli (Trichy) is located near to the island of Sri Rangam. According to an inscription, the ancient name of MusiRi was “MusuRi alias Mummudichchozhappettai”48. The landscape context here is very similar to what is found around Kodungallore in Kerala. Perhaps the “Mu” in MuchiRi refers to three in Malayalam as well as Tamil. The places where one river is bifurcated into two rivers could have been referred and the junction of two rivers could have been referred to MuchiRi. Another possibility could the three stretches of lands meeting at one point could have also been called “MuChiRi.” Near Muchiri the territories of the Chola, the Pandiya and the Chera meet and hence the settlement could have acquired the name MuchiRi.
In both the Sangam poems (akanAnURu 149 and puRanAnURu 343), the wealth of MuchiRi is the most noteworthy feature. It was a rich town and as a result, it had a high value among the people. Therefore, it is small wonder that the Pandiya invaded the town. The value of love life and attachment with clan were given importance over the wealth of MuchiRi, respectively, by the hero of the akanAnURu poem 149 and the heroine of the puranAnURu poem 343.
The Tamil Brahmi inscription from Muttupatti near Madurai mentions about the person from Muyirikkodu, who was at the village of NAgappErur and made a donation to the Jain monk. Recently, a Tamil Brahmi inscription reading amaNa was found at the site of Pattanam 49. The term amaN is identified with the Jains. Some of the merchants who were involved in the Early Historic trade had Jain affiliation. Numerous inscriptions are found on the rock shelters (in Tamil Nadu) where Jain monks lived 50.
The landscape around Kodungallore is similar to what is found at MusiRi near Trichy in Tamil Nadu. MuchiRi could have referred to the landscape context where a river joins another river or a river distributes into two forming three arms and also three blocks of land meeting together. Therefore, the name of MuchiRi might have derived due to the landscape context of Kodungallur near the mouth of the Periyar. Was MuchiRi located near Kodungallore, north of the river Periyar? Or was it near Pattanam, situated close to Paravur, south of the river Periyar? It is unclear. However, these two sites are located within a distance of 10 km, and therefore the entire region should be taken as the location of MuchiRi. The site of Pattanam could be seen as part of the larger settlement of MuchiRi. It is pointless to argue, if MuchiRi was actually located at Pattanam or near Kodungallore, What is important is to understand the settlement patterns in the region and the activities within the various settlements.
References: Champakalakshmi 1999, Gurukkal and Varier 1999, Gurukkal, 2002, 2009, Rajan 2008, Tomber 2008  Gurukkal 1989 Zevelebil 1974  The Periplus, Pliny and Ptolemy, Gurukkal and Whittaker 2001, Casson 1989  Shajan et al. 2004, Selvakumar et al. 2005, and Cherian et al. 2007a, 2007b, Cherian 2011, Gurukkal 2013  Shajan et al. 2004  Manikkanar 1999a, Vol. 10, 123-126  Manikkanar 1999c, Vol.13, 236-237  PME 54, 17:29, Casson 1989: 23, Schoff 1912  Selvakumar et al. 2005; Cherian et al. 2007a, 2007b, 2011  Casson 1989: 24  Casson 1989: 24  Casson 1989: 22  Casson 1989, note 11  Allchin 1995 and Chakrabarti 1995  Subbarayalu 2008  McLaughlin 2010: 48  Westerners, Zvelebil 1956  TLMU Vol. 6, p. 3395  Charpentier 1931  Casson 1986, 1990; Sidebotham 1991  Nagasamy 1991; Casson 1997; Sridhar et al. 2005, Selvakumar 2011  Casson 1997 as cited in Mahadevan 2003: 155-156  Athiyaman 2011  “VaLiyiru munIr NAvAyOtti” reference to the Chola king Karikalan (puRanAnURu Manikkanar 1999b, Vol. 12(1): 153), MAcaattuvan (Subrahmanian 1966: 667; Monius 2001) and MAnAigan (Subrahmanian 1966: 671) of Chilappathikaram, who was a mAnAigan  TLMU 1982 vol.3, 1679  GTI 2002: 271, inscription of 1014 CE  Gupta 1965, Turner 1989  Casson 1989  See, Periplus, 56, 18:22, Casson 1989: 81). It was known as ‘Yavanappriyam’ (TLMU Vol. 6, p. 3395)  TLMU vol.1, p.240  TLMU, Vol6, p.3555  TLMU, Vol.3, p.1291  TLMU 1982, Vol.6, p. 2366  TLMU vo. 4, p. 2109  Cherian et al. 2007  TLMU, Vol. 4, p. 2511  TLMU 1982, vol. 4. P.2512  See, Gurukkal 2009  Tamil Lexicon, vol. 6, 2938  Mahadevan 2003  Mahadevan 2003: 395  Mahadevan 2003: 395  Mahadevan 2003: 586  Epigraphia India III, pp. 66-69 / (p.588-7)  Epigraphia India III, pp. 66-69 / (p.588-7)  MusiRi (Trichy, Tamil Nadu); MusiRi (Pattukottai, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu); Pattanam (Ernakumam, Kerala); Kodungallore (Thrissur, Kerala)  Chola inscription, ARE No.70 of 1890 The Hindu, Chennai, March 14, 2011, Tamil-Brahmi script found at Pattanam in Kerala  Mahadevan 2003