Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Buraimi Oman, on the border with the UAE
Marcus you have what appears to be a Castana of the type worn by Mudalyar or civil service officers as a badge of office.
Your question and heading are interesting since no one as yet has entered anything on these threads about Tamil and in trying to do so without getting tangled in recent history politics and war in the region we need to go far back ...
Wikepedia looks at an interesting field concerning Tamils who as you may know inhabit two areas in Southern India and Sri Lanka...but avoiding that and focussing on two aspects...The Martial Arts and the high class steel making capacity of the Tamils I think we can uncover a few little known facts...In this regard I also side step the issue already covered of Portuguese Dutch and British involvement ...at least in this reply. Thus from Wikepedia I do Quote"
Kalaripayattu martial art form which originated during Sangam Period.
Various martial arts including Kuttu Varisai, Varma Kalai, Silambam, Adithada, Malyutham and Kalarippayattu, are practised in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.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 the 2nd century AD, refers to the sale of Silamabam instructions, weapons and equipment to foreign traders.
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).
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.
Among the ancient Tamils the practice of erecting memorial stones Natukalhad appeared, and it continued for quite a long time after the Sangam age, down to about 16th century. It was customary for people who sought victory in war to worship these hero stones to bless them with victory. They often carry inscriptions displaying a variety of adornments, including bas relief panels, frieze, and figures on carved stone.
Wootz Steel Production.
Wootz steel originated in South India and Sri Lanka. 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 Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Sri Lanka and exported globally; the Tamils 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. The steel was exported as cakes of steely iron that came to be known as "Wootz."
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. The Chinese and locals in Sri Lanka adopted the production methods of creating Wootz steel from the Chera Tamils by the 5th century BC. 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 BCE 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.
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. Another sign of its reputation is seen in a Persian phrase – to give an "Indian answer", meaning "a cut with an Indian sword." Wootz steel was widely exported and traded throughout ancient Europe and the Arab world, and became particularly famous in the Middle East.
The Tamil martial arts also includes various types of weapons.
Valari (throwing stick)
Maduvu (deer horns)
Surul Vaal (curling blade)
Vaal (sword) + Ketayam (shield)
Itti or Vel (spear)
Kattari (fist blade)...Kattar push dagger....
Veecharuval (battle Machete)
Silambam (long bamboo staff)
Kuttu Katai (spiked knuckleduster)
Theekutchi (flaming baton)
Yeratthai Mulangkol (dual stick)
Yeretthai Vaal (dual sword)" Unquote.