Dravidian peoples

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Dravidian People
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Total population
approx. 217 million speakers   
Languages
Dravidian languages
Religion
Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, Christianity

Dravidians are native speakers of any of the Dravidian languages of South Asia. There are around 220 million native speakers of Dravidian languages. Dravidian-speaking people are natively found in Southern India and Pakistan.[1]

Historically the Sanskrit word "drāviḍa" is used to denote geographical region of South India.[2] and was devoid of any ethnic or linguistic identity[2] While in Prakrit, words such as "Damela", "Dameda", "Dhamila" and "Damila" which later evovled into "Tamila" could have been used to denote an ethnic identity.[3] To the Dravidian people belong the Kannada people from Karnataka, the Tamil People from Tamil Nadu, the Telugu people from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, and the Malayalam people from Kerala. Ancient Dravidians were noted for their martial, religious and mercantile activities. Urbanisation and mercantile activity along the western and eastern coast of what is today Tamil Nadu and Kerala led to the development of four large Tamil political states Chola dynasty, Pandyan dynasty, Chera Dynasty and a number of smaller states warring amongst themselves for hegonomy and dominance over the region. Some of the greatest Dynasties in Indian history were established by the Dravidian people like the Satavahana dynasty, Chola dynasty, Pandyan dynasty, Rashtrakuta dynasty, Western Chalukya Empire and Vijayanagara Empire. Among languages spoken today, the Tamil is oldest known Dravidian language with unbroken literary tradition since 3rd century BC.[4]

The Chola Empire with its powerful navy was one of the biggest maritime empires in Medieval India stretching from Southern India to Southeast Asia like Malaysia, Southern Thailand and Indonesia.[5] Medieval Tamil guilds and trading organizations like the "Ayyavole and Manigramam" played an important role in the Southeast Asia trade.[6] Traders and religious leaders travelled to Southeast Asia and played an important role in the cultural Indianisation of the region. Locally developed scripts such as Grantha and Pallava script induced the development of many native scripts such as Khmer, Javanese Kawi script, Baybayin, and Thai.

Dravidian visual art is dominated by stylised Temple architecture in major centers and the productions of images of stone, bronze sculptures. The Nataraja sculpture from the Chola period, have become notable as a symbol of Hinduism.

Etymology[edit]

The Sanskrit word drāviḍa is used to denote geographical region of South India.[2] While in Prakrit, words such as Damela, Dameda, Dhamila and Damila are used but it is unclear if it was a self designation or a term denoted by outsiders. Epigraphic evidence of an ethnic group termed as such is found in ancient India where a number of inscriptions have come to light datable from the 6th to the 5th century BC mentioning Damela or Dameda persons. In the well-known Hathigumpha inscription of the Kalinga ruler Kharavela, refers to a T(ra)mira samghata (Confederacy of Tamil rulers) dated to 150 BC. It also mentions that the league of Tamil kingdoms had been in existence 113 years before then.[7] In Amaravati in present-day Andhra Pradesh there is an inscription referring to a Dhamila-vaniya (Tamil trader) datable to the 3rd century AD.[7] Another inscription of about the same time in Nagarjunakonda seems to refer to a Damila. A third inscription in Kanheri Caves refers to a Dhamila-gharini (Tamil house-holder). In the Buddhist Jataka story known as Akiti Jataka there is a mention to Damila-rattha (Tamil dynasty). Southern Brahmins are known as Pancha Dravida while northern Brahmins are known as Pancha Gauda, denoting geographical region. There were trade relationship between the Roman Empire and Pandyan Empire. As recorded by Strabo, Emperor Augustus of Rome received at Antioch an ambassador from a king called Pandyan of Dramira.[8] Hence, it is clear that by at least the 300 BC, the ethnic identity of Tamils has been formed as a distinct group.[7] Thamizhar is etymologically related to Tamil, the language spoken by Tamil people. Southworth suggests that the name comes from tam-miz > tam-iz 'self-speak', or 'one's own speech'.[9] Zvelebil suggests an etymology of tam-iz, with tam meaning "self" or "one's self", and "-iz" having the connotation of "unfolding sound". Alternatively, he suggests a derivation of tamiz < tam-iz < *tav-iz < *tak-iz, meaning in origin "the proper process (of speaking)."[10] The term Thamizhar was likely derived from the name of the ancient people Dravida > Dramila > Damila > Tamila > Tamilar[11]

While the English word Dravidian was first employed by Robert Caldwell in his book of comparative Dravidian grammar based on the usage of the Sanskrit word drāviḍa in the work Tantravārttika by Kumārila Bhaṭṭa.[2] The worddrāviḍa in Sansrkit has been historically used to denote geographical regions of Southern India as whole. While some theories concern the direction of derivation between tamiẓ and drāviḍa; such linguists as Zvelebil assert that the direction is from tamiẓ to drāviḍa.[12] The word Dravidian is devoid of any ethnic significance, Dravidian is just the language used by the people of the referred group.[3]

Origins[edit]

Although in modern times speakers of the various Dravidian languages have mainly occupied the southern portion of India, nothing definite is known about the ancient domain of the Dravidian parent speech. It is, however, a well-established and well-supported hypothesis that Dravidian speakers must have been widespread throughout Indian-Subcontinent before Indo-Aryan migration into subcontinent.[13] Origins of Dravidian people are informed by various theories proposed by linguists, geneticist and historians.

The Pashupati seal from Indus Valley Ciivlization

Linguists hypothesized that Dravidian-speaking people were spread throughout the Indian subcontinent before a series of Indo-European migrations. In this view, the early Indus Valley civilisation is often identified as having been Dravidian.[14] Cultural and linguistic similarities have been cited by researchers Henry Heras, Kamil Zvelebil, Asko Parpola and Iravatham Mahadevan as being strong evidence for a proto-Dravidian origin of the ancient Indus Valley civilisation.[15][16] Linguist Asko Parpola writes that the Indus script and Harappan language "most likely to have belonged to the Dravidian family".[17] Parpola led a Finnish team in investigating the inscriptions using computer analysis. Based on a proto-Dravidian assumption, they proposed readings of many signs, some agreeing with the suggested readings of Heras and Knorozov (such as equating the "fish" sign with the Dravidian word for fish "min") but disagreeing on several other readings. A comprehensive description of Parpola’s work until 1994 is given in his book "Deciphering the Indus Script."[18] The discovery in Tamil Nadu of a late Neolithic (early 2nd millennium BC, i.e. post-dating Harappan decline) stone celt allegedly marked with Indus signs has been considered by some to be significant for the Dravidian identification.[19][20] While, Yuri Knorozov surmised that the symbols represent a logosyllabic script and suggested, based on computer analysis, an underlying agglutinative Dravidian language as the most likely candidate for the underlying language.[21] Knorozov’s suggestion was preceded by the work of Henry Heras, who suggested several readings of signs based on a proto-Dravidian assumption.[22] While some scholars like J. Bloch and M. Witzel believe that the Indo-Aryan moved into an already Dravidian speaking area after the oldest parts of the Rig Veda were already composed.[23] The Brahui population of Balochistan has been taken by some as the linguistic equivalent of a relict population, perhaps indicating that Dravidian languages were formerly much more widespread and were supplanted by the incoming Indo-Aryan languages.[24]

Paleoclimatologists believe fall of Indus Valley Civilization and eastward migration during late harrapan period was due to climate change in the region, with 200-Year old drought being the major factor.[25][26][27] Indus Valley Civilization seemed to slowly lose their urban cohesion, and their cities were gradually abandoned during late harppan period followed by eastward migrations before the Indo-Aryan migration into Indian Subcontinent.[26]

Dravidian languages show extensive lexical (vocabulary) borrowing, but only a few traits of structural (either phonological or grammatical) borrowing from Indo-Aryan, whereas Indo-Aryan shows more structural than lexical borrowings from the Dravidian languages.[28] Many of these features are already present in the oldest known Indo-Aryan language, the language of the Rigveda (c. 1500 BCE), which also includes over a dozen words borrowed from Dravidian. The linguistic evidence for Dravidian impact grows increasingly strong as we move from the Samhitas down through the later Vedic works and into the classical post-Vedic literature.[29] This represents an early religious and cultural fusion[30][note 1] or synthesis[32] between ancient Dravidians and Indo-Aryans.[33][31][34][35]

Genetics[edit]

The genetic analysis of two Y chromosome variants, Hgr9 and Hgr3 provides insightful data. Microsatellite variation of Hgr9 among Iranians, Indians and Pakistanis indicate an expansion of populations to around 9000 YBP in Iran and then to 6,000 YBP in India. This migration originated in what was historically termed Elam in south-west Iran to the Indus valley, and may have been associated with the spread of Dravidian speakers from south-west Iran[36][37][38] Subsequently, the Indo-Aryan migration into subcontinent from Sintashta culture about 4,000 ybp.[37][39][40] and the Tibeto-Burmans and Austroasiatics possibly from the Himalayan and north-eastern borders of the subcontinent.[41]

The most frequent mtDNA haplogroups in the Indian subcontinent are M, R and U.[42]

All major Y chromosome DNA haplogroups in the subcontinent are Haplogroup F's descendant haplogroups R (mostly R2a, R2 and R1a1), L, H and J (mostly J2).[43] Haplogroup F itself is found highest in Dravidian speakers in Eurasia.[44]

Arguing for the longer term "rival Y-Chromosome model",[45] Stephen Oppenheimer believes that it is highly suggestive that India is the origin of the Eurasian mtDNA haplogroups which he calls the "Eurasian Eves". According to Oppenheimer it is highly probable that nearly all human maternal lineages in Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe descended from only four mtDNA lines that originated in South Asia 50,000-100,000 years ago.[46]

According to the phylogeographic distribution of haplotypes observed among South Asian populations defined by social and linguistic criteria, the possibility arose of haplogroup F might have originated in or near India.[45] The presence of several subclusters of F-M89 and K that are largely restricted to the Indian subcontinent is consistent with the scenario that a coastal (southern route) of early human migration out of Africa carried ancestral Eurasian lineages first to the coast of the Indian subcontinent, or that some of them originated there.[47]

In a 2009 study of 132 individuals, 560,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms in 25 different South Asian groups were analysed, providing strong evidence in support of the notion that modern south Asians (both Indo-Aryan and Dravidian groups) are a hybrid population descending from two genetically divergent populations referred to as the 'Ancestral North Indians' related to western eurasians and the 'Ancestral South Indians' who are not closely related to groups outside the subcontinent. [48] According to the study, Asians split into Ancestral South Indians, Proto-East Asian and Andamanese around 48,500 ybp [49] which today only exists in admixture form through maternal subgroup of M (mtDNA) in South Asia and in Eastern Asia through paternal Haplogroup D and maternal subgroup of M (mtDNA). [49] [50] Andamanese were unique in that they were the only population in the study that lacked any Ancestral North Indian and other Y-DNA and MtDNA unique to South Asia.[51] The authors thus suggest that the peopling of Andaman islands must have occurred before the appearance of Haplogroup F and it's descendants. [52]

History[edit]

Tamiḻakam during Sangam Period.

Ancient Dravidians had three monarchical states Chola, Pandyas and Cheras, headed by kings called "Vendhar" and several tribal chieftainships, headed by the chiefs called by the general denomination "Vel" or "Velir".[53] Still lower at the local level there were clan chiefs called "kizhar" or "mannar".[54] The kings and chiefs were always in conflict with each other mostly over territorial hegemony and property. The royal courts were mostly places of social gathering rather than places of dispensation of authority; they were centres for distribution of resources. Ancient Sangam literature and grammatical works Tolkappiyam, the ten anthologies Pattuppāṭṭu, the eight anthologies Eṭṭuttokai sheds light on ancient Dravidian people.[55] The kings and chieftains were patrons of the arts, and a significant volume of literature exists from this period.[56] The literature shows that many of the cultural practices that are considered peculiarly Tamil date back to the classical period.[56]

Agriculture was important during this period, and there is evidence that networks of irrigation channels were built as early as 3nd century BCE.[57] Internal and external trade flourished, and evidence of significant contact with Ancient Rome exists.[58] Large quantities of Roman coins and signs of the presence of Roman traders have been discovered at Karur and Arikamedu.[58] There is evidence that at least two embassies were sent to the Roman Emperor Augustus by Pandya kings.[59] Potsherds with Tamil writing have also been found in excavations on the Red Sea, suggesting the presence of merchants there.[60] An anonymous 1st century traveller's account written in Greek, Periplus Maris Erytraei, describes the ports of the Pandya and Chera kingdoms in Damirica and their commercial activity in great detail. Periplus also indicates that the chief exports of the ancient Dravidians were pepper, malabathrum, pearls, ivory, silk, spikenard, diamonds, sapphires, and tortoiseshell.[61] According to Clarence Maloney, during the classical period Tamils also settled the Maldive Islands.[62]

These early kingdoms sponsored the growth of some of the oldest extant literature in Tamil. The classical literature, referred to as Sangam literature is attributed to the period between 300 BCE and 300 CE.[63][64] These Sangam poems paint the picture of a fertile land and of a people who were organised into various occupational groups. The governance of the land was through hereditary monarchies, although the sphere of the state's activities and the extent of the ruler's powers were limited through the adherence to the established order dharma.[65] The people were loyal to their kings and roving bards and musicians and danseuse gathered at the royal courts of the generous kings. The arts of music and dancing were highly developed and popular. Musical instruments of various types find mention in the Sangam poems. The amalgamation of the southern and the northern styles of dancing started during this period and is reflected fully in the epic Cilappatikaram.[66]

Imperial and post-imperial periods[edit]

The Varaha cave bas relief at Mahabalipuram from 7th century AD

The names of the three dynasties, Cholas, Pandyas, and Cheras, are mentioned in Tamil Sangam literature and grammaticall works like Tolkappiyar refers to them as the "Three Glorified by Heaven", (Tamilவாண்புகழ் மூவர், Vāṉpukaḻ Mūvar ?).[67] Later, they are mentioned in Mauryan Empire's Pillars of Ashoka (inscribed 273–232 BCE) inscriptions, among the kingdoms, which though not subject to Ashoka, were on allied terms with him.[68][69] The king of Kalinga, Kharavela, who ruled around 150 BCE, mentioned in the famous Hathigumpha inscription of the confederacy of the kingdoms that had existed for over 100 years.[70] The Cholas, Pandyas, and Cheras, Pallavas were followers of Hinduism, though for a short while some of them seem to have embraced Jainism and later converted to Hinduism. Buddhism flourishing alongside Hinduism and Jainism[71] After the fall of Mauryan Empire, the kingdoms were allied with Satavahana Dynasty. The Kings of the Satavahana dynasty were the earliest rulers who issued coins with dravidian languages.[72]

Typical layout of Dravidian architecture which evolved from koyil as kings residence.

These early kingdoms sponsored the growth of some of the oldest extant literature in Tamil. The classical literature, referred to as Sangam literature is attributed to the period between 300 BCE and 300 CE.[73][74] The poems of Sangam literature, which deal with emotional and material topics, were categorised and collected into various anthologies during the medieval period. These Sangam poems paint the picture of a fertile land and of a people who were organised into various occupational groups. The governance of the land was through hereditary monarchies, although the sphere of the state’s activities and the extent of the ruler’s powers were limited through the adherence to the established order ("dharma"). Although the Pallava records can be traced from the 2nd century AD, they did not rise to prominence as an imperial dynasty until the 6th century.[75] They transformed the institution of the kingship into an imperial one, and sought to bring vast amounts of territory under their direct rule. The Bhakti movement in Hinduism was founded at this time, and rose along with the growing influence of Jainism and Buddhism.[76] The Pallavas pioneered the building of large, ornate temples in stone which formed the basis of the Dravidian temple architecture. They came into conflict with the Kannada Chalukyas of Badami. During this period, The great Badami Chalukya King Pulakesi II extended the Chalukya Empire up to the northern extents of the Pallava kingdom and defeated the Pallavas in several battles.[77] Pallava Narasimhavarman however reversed this victory in 642 by attacking and occupying Badami temporarily.[78] However a later Chalukya King Vikramaditya II took revenge by repeated invasions of the territory of Tondaimandalam and his subsequent victories over Pallava Nandivarman II and the annexation of Kanchipuram.[79] The south Indian ruler Vikramaditya II also defeated the Arab invaders and protected southern India.[80] The Pallava dynasty was overthrown in the 9th century by the imperial Kannada Rashtrakutas who ruled from Gulbarga.Amoghavarsha was the greatest King of the south Indian Rashtrakuta dynasty who was described by an Arab scholar as one of the 4 great Kings of the world in the 9th century.[81] King Krishna III, the last great Rashtrakuta king consolidated the empire so that it stretched from the Narmada River to Kaveri River and included the northern Tamil country (Tondaimandalam) while levying tribute on the king of Ceylon.[82]

The Tamil Chola Empire at its height, 1030AD

Under Rajaraja Chola and his son Rajendra Chola, the Cholas became dominant in the 10th century and established an empire covering most of South India and Sri Lanka.[83] The empire had strong trading links with Chinese Song Dynasty and Southeast Asia.[84][85] The Cholas defeated the Eastern Chalukya and expanded their empire to the Ganges. They conquered the coastal areas around the Bay of Bengal and turned it to Chola lake. Rajendra Chola improved his father's fleet and created the first notable marine of the Indian subcontinent. The Chola navy conquered the Sri Vijaya Empire of Indonesia and the Malaysia and secured the sea trade route to China.[83] Cholas exacted tribute from Thailand and the Khmer Kingdom of Cambodia. The power of the Cholas declined around the 13th century and the Pandyan Empire enjoyed a brief period of resurgence thereafter during the rule of Sundara Pandya.[83] The Pandyan Dynasty reached its peak in the 13th century during the reign of Sadayavarman Sundara Pandyan I and Maravarman Kulasekara Pandyan I. The Pandyan Empire was threatened by the constant Islamic invasions of South India. During the 15th and 16th century the Vijayanagara Empire became the dominant power of South India. The Vijayanagara Empire reached its zenith during the reign of the south Indian Emperor Krishnadevaraya who defeated the Turkic invaders of the Bahmani Sultanate.[86] After the decline of the Vijayanagara Empire in 1646, South India was dominated by small states like the Nayak Dynasty.

The western Tamil lands became increasingly politically distinct from the rest of the Tamil lands after the Chola and Pandya empires lost control over them in the 13th century.[87] They developed their own distinct language and literature, which increasingly grew apart from Tamil, evolving into the modern Malayalam language by the 15th century.[88]

Culture[edit]

Religion[edit]

Ancient Dravidian religion constituted of non-Vedic form of Hinduism in that they were either historically or are at present Āgamic. The Agamas are non-vedic in origin [89] and have been dated either as post-vedic texts [90] or as pre-vedic compositions.[91] The Agamas are a collection of Tamil and Sanskrit scriptures chiefly constituting the methods of temple construction and creation of murti, worship means of deities, philosophical doctrines, meditative practices, attainment of sixfold desires and four kinds of yoga.[92] The worship of tutelary deity, sacred flora and fauna in Hinduism is also recognized as a survival of the pre-Vedic Dravidian religion.[93] Dravidian linguistic influence on early Vedic religion is evident, many of these features are already present in the oldest known Indo-Aryan language, the language of the Rigveda (c. 1500 BCE), which also includes over a dozen words borrowed from Dravidian. The linguistic evidence for Dravidian impact grows increasingly strong as we move from the Samhitas down through the later Vedic works and into the classical post-Vedic literature.[29] This represents an early religious and cultural fusion[30][note 1] or synthesis[32] between ancient Dravidians and Indo-Aryans that went on to influence Indian civilizaion.[33][31][34][35]

Sage Agastya, father of Tamil literature.

Ancient Tamil grammatical works Tolkappiyam, the ten anthologies Pattuppāṭṭu, the eight anthologies Eṭṭuttokai sheds light on early ancient Dravidian religion. Seyyon was glorified as, the red god seated on the blue peacock, who is ever young and resplendent, as the favored god of the Tamils.[55] Sivan was also seen as the supreme God.[55] Early iconography of Seyyon[94] and Sivan[95][96][97] and their association with native flora and fauna goes back to Indus Valley Civilization.[98][99] The Sangam landscape was classified into five categories, thinais, based on the mood, the season and the land. Tolkappiyam, mentions that each of these thinai had an associated deity such Seyyon in Kurinji-the hills, Thirumaal in Mullai-the forests, and Kotravai in Marutham-the plains, and Wanji-ko in the Neithal-the coasts and the seas. Other gods mentioned were Mayyon and Vaali who are all major deities in Hinduism today. Dravidian influence on early Vedic religion is evident, many of these features are already present in the oldest known Indo-Aryan language, the language of the Rigveda (c. 1500 BCE), which also includes over a dozen words borrowed from Dravidian.[29] This represents an early religious and cultural fusion[30][note 1] or synthesis[32] between ancient Dravidians and Indo-Aryans, which became more evident over time with sacred iconography, traditions, philosophy, flora and fauna that went on to influence Hinduism, Buddhism, Charvaka, Sramana and Jainism[33][31][34][35]

Meenakshi Amman temple, dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi, tutelary deity of Madurai city

Throughout Tamilakam, a king was considered to be divine by nature and possessed religious significance.[100] The king was 'the representative of God on earth’ and lived in a "koyil", which means the "residence of a god". The Modern Tamil word for temple is koil (Tamil: கோயில்). Titual worship was also given to kings.[101][102] Modern words for god like "kō" (Tamil: கோ "king"), "iṟai" (இறை "emperor") and "āṇḍavar" (ஆண்டவன் "conqueror") now primarily refer to gods. These elements were incorporated later into Hinduism like the legendary marriage of Shiva to Queen Mīnātchi who ruled Madurai or Wanji-ko, a god who later merged into Indra.[103] Tolkappiyar refers to the Three Crowned Kings as the "Three Glorified by Heaven", (Tamilவாண்புகழ் மூவர், Vāṉpukaḻ Mūvar ?).[67] In the Dravidian-speaking South, the concept of divine kingship led to the assumption of major roles by state and temple.[104]

The cult of the mother goddess is treated as an indication of a society which venerated femininity. This mother goddess was conceived as a virgin, one who has given birth to all and one, and are typically associated with Goddess Durga.[105] The temples of the Sangam days, mainly of Madurai, seem to have had priestesses to the deity, which also appear predominantly a goddess.[106] In the Sangam literature, there is an elaborate description of the rites performed by the Kurava priestess in the shrine Palamutircholai.[107]

Among the early Dravidians the practice of erecting memorial stones "Natukal and Viragal’' had appeared, and it continued for quite a long time after the Sangam age, down to about 16th century.[108] It was customary for people who sought victory in war to worship these hero stones to bless them with victory.[109]

Martial arts[edit]

Kalaripayattu martial art form which originated during Sangam Period from Kerala.

Literary evidence of martial arts in southern India dates back to the Sangam literature of about the 3nd century BC to the 3nd century AD. The Akananuru and Purananuru describe the use of spears, swords, shields, bows and silambam in the Sangam era. Various martial arts including Kuttu Varisai, Varma Kalai, Silambam, Adithada, Malyutham and Kalarippayattu, are practised in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.[110] The warm-up phase includes yoga, meditation and breathing exercises. Silambam originated in ancient Tamilakam and was patronized by the Pandyans, Cholas and Cheras, who ruled over this region. Silapathiharam a Tamil literature from 3nd century BC to 2nd century AD, refers to the sale of Silamabam instructions, weapons and equipment to foreign traders.[111] Since the early Sangam age, there was a warlike culture in South India. War was regarded as an honorable sacrifice and fallen heroes and kings were worshiped in the form of a Hero stone. Each warrior was trained in martial arts, horse riding and specialized in two of the weapons of that period Vel (spear) Val (sword) and Vil (bow).[112] Heroic martyrdom was glorified in ancient Tamil literature. The Tamil kings and warriors followed an honour code similar to that of Japanese Samurais and committed suicide to save the honor. The forms of martial suicide were known as Avipalli, Thannai, Verttal, Marakkanchi, Vatakkiruttal and Punkilithu Mudiyum Maram. Avipalli was mentioned in all the works except Veera Soliyam. It was a self-sacrifice of a warrior to the goddess of war for the victory of his commander.[113] The Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka reflected some elements of Tamil martial traditions which included worship of fallen heroes (Maaveerar Naal) and practice of martial suicide. They carried a Suicide pill around their neck to escape the captivity and torture.[114] A remarkable feature besides to their willingness to sacrifice is, that they were well organized and disciplined. It was forbidden for the rebels to consume tobaccos, alcohols, drugs and to have sexual relationship.[115]

Katar, South Indian dagger which was popular throughout South Asian

Ancient dravidian speakers had practice of erecting memorial stones Natukal, and it continued for quite a long time after the Sangam age, down to about 16th century.[108] It was customary for people who sought victory in war to worship these hero stones to bless them with victory.[109] They often carry inscriptions displaying a variety of adornments, including bas relief panels, frieze, and figures on carved stone.[116]

Natukal & Viragal are hero stone memorials dedicated to the fallen heroes during ancient and medieval period.

The Wootz steel, also known as Damascus steel originated in South India and Sri Lanka.[117][118] There are several ancient Tamil, Greek, Chinese and Roman literary references to high carbon Indian steel since the time of Alexander's India campaign. The crucible steel production process started in the sixth century BC, at production sites of Kodumanal in Tamil Nadu, Golconda in Telangana, Karnataka and Sri Lanka and exported globally; the of the Chera Dynasty producing what was termed the finest steel in the world, i.e. Seric Iron to the Romans, Egyptians, Chinese and Arabs by 500 BC.[119][120][121] The steel was exported as cakes of steely iron that came to be known as "Wootz."[122]

The Tamilakam method was to heat black magnetite ore in the presence of carbon in a sealed clay crucible inside a charcoal furnace. An alternative was to smelt the ore first to give wrought iron, then heated and hammered to be rid of slag. The carbon source was bamboo and leaves from plants such as Avārai.[122][123] The Chinese and locals in Sri Lanka adopted the production methods of creating Wootz steel from the Chera by the 5th century BC.[124][125] In Sri Lanka, this early steel-making method employed a unique wind furnace, driven by the monsoon winds, capable of producing high-carbon steel and production sites from antiquity have emerged, in places such as Anuradhapura, Tissamaharama and Samanalawewa, as well as imported artifacts of ancient iron and steel from Kodumanal. A 200 BC Tamil trade guild in Tissamaharama, in the South East of Sri Lanka, brought with them some of the oldest iron and steel artifacts and production processes to the island from the classical period.[126][127][128][129] The Arabs introduced the South Indian/Sri Lankan wootz steel to Damascus, where an industry developed for making weapons of this steel. The 12th century Arab traveler Edrisi mentioned the "Hinduwani" or Indian steel as the best in the world.[117] Another sign of its reputation is seen in a Persian phrase – to give an "Indian answer", meaning "a cut with an Indian sword."[130] Wootz steel was widely exported and traded throughout ancient Europe and the Arab world, and became particularly famous in the Middle East.[130]

Traditional Weapons[edit]

Traditional martial arts also includes various types of weapons.

Architecture and Visual art[edit]

Nataraja, example of Chola Empire bronze has become notable as a symbol of Hinduism.

Throughout Tamilakam, a king was considered to be divine by nature and possessed religious significance.[100] The king was 'the representative of God on earth’ and lived in a "koyil", which means the "residence of a god". The Modern Tamil word for temple is koil (Tamil: கோயில்). Titual worship was also given to kings.[101][102] Modern words for god like "kō" (Tamil: கோ "king"), "iṟai" (இறை "emperor") and "āṇḍavar" (ஆண்டவன் "conqueror") now primarily refer to gods.[103] Tolkappiyar refers to the Three Crowned Kings as the "Three Glorified by Heaven", (Tamilவாண்புகழ் மூவர், Vāṉpukaḻ Mūvar ?).[67] In the Dravidian-speaking South, the concept of divine kingship led to the assumption of major roles by state and temple.[104]

Mayamata and Manasara shilpa texts estimated to be in circulation by 5th to 7th century AD, is a guidebook on Dravidian style of Vastu Shastra design, construction, sculpture and joinery technique.[131][132] Isanasivagurudeva paddhati is another text from the 9th century describing the art of building in India in south and central India.[131][133] In north India, Brihat-samhita by Varāhamihira is the widely cited ancient Sanskrit manual from 6th century describing the design and construction of Nagara style of Hindu temples.[134][135][136] Traditional Dravidian architecture and symbolism are also based on Agamas. The Agamas are non-vedic in origin [89] and have been dated either as post-vedic texts [90] or as pre-vedic compositions.[91] The Agamas are a collection of Tamil and Sanskrit scriptures chiefly constituting the methods of temple construction and creation of murti, worship means of deities, philosophical doctrines, meditative practices, attainment of sixfold desires and four kinds of yoga.[92]

Chola style temples consist almost invariably of the three following parts, arranged in differing manners, but differing in themselves only according to the age in which they were executed:[137]

  1. The porches or Mantapas, which always cover and precede the door leading to the cell.
  2. Gate-pyramids, Gopuras, which are the principal features in the quadrangular enclosures that surround the more notable temples.Gopuras are very common in dravidian temples.
  3. Pillared halls (Chaultris or Chawadis) are used for many purposes and are the invariable accompaniments of these temples.

Besides these, a south Indian temple usually has a tank called the Kalyani or Pushkarni – to be used for sacred purposes or the convenience of the priests – dwellings for all the grades of the priesthood are attached to it, and other buildings for state or convenience.[137]

Theater, Dance and Music[edit]

Kathakali is traditional theater form of kerala

Literary evidence of traditional form of theater, dance and music dates back to 3rd century BC.[138] Ancient literary works, such as the Cilappatikaram, describe a system of music,[138] The theatrical culture that flourished during early Sangam age. Theatre-Dance traditions has a long and varied history whose origins can be traced back almost two millennia to dance-theatre forms like Kotukotti and Pandarangam, which are mentioned in an ancient anthology of poems entitled the Kalingathu Parani.[139] Dance forms such as Bharatanatyam are based older temple dance forms known as Catir Kacceri as practised by courtesans and a class of women known as Devadasis.[140]

Notable dance and theater forms are

Costume[edit]

Dravidian speakers in southern India wear varied traditional costumes depending on their region and is largely influenced by local costumes and traditional.

Language[edit]

Main article: Dravidian languages
Dravidian language tree
A phylogenetic representation of Nostratic as proposed by Bomhard (2008). Dravidian Languages are sometimes considered as part of the Nostratic hypothesis.

The most commonly spoken Dravidian languages are Tamil (தமிழ்), Telugu (తెలుగు), Kannada (ಕನ್ನಡ),Malayalam (മലയാളം), and Brahui (براہوئی) . There are three subgroups within the Dravidian language family: North Dravidian, Central Dravidian, and South Dravidian, matching for the most part the corresponding regions in the Indian subcontinent.

Dravidian grammatical impact on the structure and syntax of Indo-Aryan languages is considered far greater than the Indo-Aryan grammatical impact on Dravidian. Some linguists explain this anomaly by arguing that Middle Indo-Aryan and New Indo-Aryan were built on a Dravidian substratum.[141] There are also hundreds of Dravidian loanwords in Indo-Aryan languages, and vice versa.

List of Dravidian people[edit]

Name Country Population Notes
Brahuis  Pakistan,  Afghanistan 2,528,000 Brahuis belong to the north-Dravidian subgroup.The majority are found in Baluchistan, Pakistan, with smaller amounts in Southwestern Afghanistan.
Kannadigas  India 36.9 million[142] Kannadigas belong to the south-Dravidian subgroup. Kannadigas are native to Karnataka, parts of northern Kerala,parts of southern Maharashtra, and northwest region of Tamil Nadu, India.
Malayalis  India 38 million[143] Malayalis belong to south-Dravidian linguistic subgroup. Native to Kerala, southwestern Tamil Nadu, and Southern Karnataka.
Tamils  India, 60,793,814 (2001)[144] They belong to south-Dravidian linguistic subgroup. Tamils are native to Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, parts of Kerala, southern Andhra Pradesh, and southern Karnataka.
Telugus  India 74 million[145] They belong to the central/north Dravidian subgroup. Telugus are native to Andhra Pradesh, Telangana.
Tuluvas  India 2,000,000 (approx) They belong to the south Dravidian subgroup, and are found in coastal Karnataka and northern Kerala (alternatively named Tulu Nadh).

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Lockard: "The encounters that resulted from Aryan migration brought together several very different peoples and cultures, reconfiguring Indian society. Over many centuries a fusion of Aryan and Dravidian occurred, a complex process that historians have labeled the Indo-Aryan synthesis."[30] Lockard: "Hinduism can be seen historically as a synthesis of Aryan beliefs with Harappan and other Dravidian traditions that developed over many centuries."[31]

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  143. ^ Mikael Parkvall, "Världens 100 största språk 2007" (The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007), in Nationalencyklopedin. Asterisks mark the 2010 estimates for the top dozen languages.
  144. ^ "Census of India". Retrieved 2008-01-07. [dead link]
  145. ^ Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues – 2000, Census of India, 2001

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