“Give it back after reading!”

The source of all the pictures of INDIEN 73 is BnF

The manuscript Indien 73 in the BnF collection is a collection of moral or didactic stanzas entitled alternatively Nīticākaram (“The ocean of moral teachings”) or Nīticāram (“The gist of moral teachings”) in the manuscript itself.

BnF INDIEN 73, front unfoliated folio

At the beginning of the bundle is found an unfoliated folio inscribed only on its recto. At the centre, the text, in four lines, gives the title of the book, the name of its owner, and an instruction to the would-be user.

BnF INDIEN 73, front unfoliated folio, detail

(f[1]r1) tayaṅkampāṭiy irukkum
(f[1]r2) Ayalāṇṭa(piḷai)1 kumāraṉ
(f[1]r3) ciṉivacaṉ nīticākaram
(f[1]r4) Eṭut=tavaṉ pāt=tu kuṭuk=ka vēṇum

“[This is the] Nīticākaram of Ciṉivacaṉ, son of Ayalāṇṭappiḷḷai, who resides in Tayaṅkampāṭi; he who takes [it] should give [it back] after reading [literally: seeing].”

This kind of formula is frequently found in Tamil manuscripts. A collection of these lending / borrowing formulae will be found in the much awaited and forthcoming book on South Indian colophons by Giovanni Ciotti (Universität Hamburg) and Marco Franceschini (Università di Bologna), who helped me reading the formula in the present manuscript.

Dr. G. Vijayavenugopal (EFEO, Pondicherry) shed further light on this paratext.

Tayaṅkampāṭi, the residence of the owner, is a spoken form of Taraṅkampāṭi, that is Tranquebar, famous as a Danish trading port and for its printing press.

The owner’s name Ayalāṇṭappiḷḷai is the spoken form of Akilāṇṭappiḷḷai, where Akilāṇṭa (Skt. akhila+āṇḍa) means the “whole universe”.

  1. It appears that we have here a kind of abbreviated form or conjunct letter for piḷḷai []

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