Paratextual Material in Indien 206, the Taṇṭiyalaṅkāram

At the end of a Tamil manuscript we are accustomed to find various paratextual materials such as colophons, verses and occasionally even indices. There are, however, other types of texts that were likely added to suit particular needs and are consequently unique or quite rare. Indien 206, a manuscript of the Taṇṭiyalaṅkāram (TA) from the collection of Edouard Ariel, is one such example. The main text unceremoniously ends on f. 198v2:

அணியதிகாாமுடிநதது முறறும aṇiyatikāra muṭittu muṟṟum

“The Chapter on Poetic Ornaments has been completed.”

On the following and last numbered folio, f. 199r (There are two additional leaves that have no original foliation, i.e., incised and in Tamil script.), we come across a leaf with text set in a tripartite format. The first column contains five lines; the center one, six; the rightmost column, seven. The contents may be divided into three topics. Column one and the first two lines of column two provide the meaning of seven abbreviations. Thereafter are given the three classes (iṉam) of Tamil letters into hard (val), soft (mel), and middle (iṭai). Cf. Tolkāppiyam Eḻuttatikāram 1.19–21 and Naṉṉūl 1.68–70. Note that the letters given for the melliṉam and iṭaiyiṉam have been reversed, i.e., the melliṉam are ṅa ña ṇa na ma ṉa and the iṭaiyiṉam are ya ra la va ḻa. In the latter list, the final la has been mistakenly written for ḷa.

Indien 206, folio 199r. Courtesy of the BnF.

Indien 206, folio 199r. Courtesy of the BnF.



வலலினமெனப கசடதபற

மெலலினமெனப யாலவழல

இடையினமெனப ஙஞணநமன

valliṉam eṉpa – ka ca ṭa ta pa ṟa

melliṉam eṉpa – ya ra la va ḻa la

iṭaiyiṉam eṉpa – ṅa ña ṇa na ma ṉa

“The say the hard group is ka ca ṭa ta pa ṟa

They say the soft group is ya ra la va ḻ la

They say the middle group is ṅa ña ṇa na ma ṉa eṉpa”

                        Indien 206, folio 199r, center column. Courtesy of the BnF.

The final column briefly lists and partially exemplifies the case endings (vēṟṟumai) and quotes in full TE 113/4.11 (numbering with Nacciṉārkkiṉiyar).

வெறறுமைசசூததிரம் –

ஐ ஒடு கு இனஅது கணணெனனுமவவாறெனப

வெறறுமையுருபெ ஐ அவனவளது ஒடு

அவனொடு அவளொடு அதொது கு அவ

னுககு அவளுககு அதுககு இன அவனின

அவரின அதின அது அவனது அவளது

அதுனது கண அவனகண –  <g ref=”#pcl”/> 

vēṟṟumaiccūttiram [TE 113n/4.11]

ai oṭu ku iṉ atu kaṇṇ eṉṉum avvār’ eṉpa

vēṟṟumai yurupē – ai avaṉ avaḷ atu – ōṭu

avaṉōṭu avaḷōṭu – atōṭu – ku – ava

ṉukku – avaḷukku – atukku – iṉ – avaṉiṉ

avariṉ – atiṉ – atu – avaṉatu – avaḷatu –

ataṉatu – kaṇ – avaṉkaṇ –

They say the forms of the cases are these six: ai oṭu ku iṉ atu kaṇ.

[Examples for] ai: avaṉ “he”, avaḷ “she”, atu “it”. [These are nominative forms!]

[Examples for] ōṭu: avaṉoṭu “with him” avaḷōṭu “with her” atōṭu “with it”.

[Examples for] ku: avaṉukku “to him”, atukku “to it” [feminine form missing].

[Examples for] iṉ: avaṉiṉ “from him”, avariṉ “from them”, atiṉ “from it” [feminine replaced by the plural form].

[Examples for] kaṇ: avaṉkaṇ “in/on him” [the other two forms missing].

                                  Indien 206, folio 199r, right column. Courtesy of the BnF.      

This bit of elementary grammatical information may have been added simply to fill space with some material suitable for revision. But as with many of the manuscripts in the collection of Edouard Ariel, the copyist likely knew that the intended audience was Europeans studying Tamil, and this short reminder of basic grammar may have seemed helpful. Alternatively, he may have been specifically requested to add a few grammatical points, and either explanation could account for the list of abbreviations as well. As for the errors in declension and the confusion of the consonants, I believe they likely reveal inattentiveness rather than ignorance. 

Coming now to the first snippet of text, we may recall that when reading commentarial Tamil, even in modern printed editions, one encounters on almost every page two or three abbreviations that can serve as headings for the following information, mark the end of a clause, or shorten a common formulaic phrase. What we find here is an explanation of precisely such abbreviations. Let us first look at those found in our manuscript and then compare these with what we find elsewhere. Note that it is, in a sense, impossible to transcribe the abbreviations into Roman script since the puḷḷi or “inherent vowel cancelling mark” is not used and the reader must decide whether to retain it or not. Thus, இள was likely thought of as இள் iḷ. Below I have omitted the inherent vowel in the transliteration where the corresponding full word would end with a dotted consonant. After the translation I have provided an attestation of the abbreviation in Indien 206. Other MSS of the TA referenced are Indien 205 and UVSL 181, a manuscript from the U. V. Swaminatha Iyer Library that belongs to a different recension of the text. The edition is that by Vai. Mu. Kōpālakiruṭṭiṇamācāryar from 1956.

Indien 206, folio 199r, detail. Courtesy of the BnF.

Indien 206, folio 199r, detail. Courtesy of the BnF.

Column 1

இள இதனுள இதன பொருள –

எம எனவும –

உம – உதாாணம –

வம வரும் –

வறு – வாலாறு –

iḷ – itaṉu – itaṉporuḷ “in it, its meaning”. I am not aware of any instances where iḷ stands for itaṉuḷ. iḷ – itaṉporuḷ does not appear to occur all that often in either Indien 205 or 206. One noted instance is on Indien 206 30r1 (commentary ad TA 1.5), where iḷ comes after the formulaic question and answer with nutaliṟṟu (on which see below) and precedes the gloss on the cūttiram. It is absent in Indien 205 22r2, where we find ivaṟṟu“among these” instead. This phrase is widely used to introduce a word by word gloss on a verse or cūttiram. See for example, p. 24 of the edition ad TA 1.16. In the corresponding place in UVSL 181 8r7 itaṉporuḷ is written out in full but is missing in Indien 206 9v1. A typical feature of all the abbreviations is that they will have a dash either between eḻuttus or on either or both sides.

Indien 206, folio 30r, line 1. Courtesy of the BnF.

Indien 206, folio 30r, line 1. Courtesy of the BnF.


um – utāraṇam – “example”. Cf. Skt. udāharaṇa. I have yet to note any examples of this abbreviation. On utāraṇam as a synonym of varalāṟu, see below.

emeṉavum  “and when one says”. Indien 206 27v3 (commentary ad TA 2.4) and 205 11r3. Note, however, that in the spot corresponding to Indien 206 27v3, Indien 205 20r6f. has eṉavum written out in full. eṉavum is used with a final varum usually to list a series of examples: “An example of a occurs when one says x and when one says y and …”. In the passage cited above, part of the commentary to TA 2.4, we can translate: “An example of the simile based on a quality (paṇpuvamai varalāṟu) occurs (varum) when one says ‘body like coral’ (pavaḷatt’ aṉṉa mēṉi; cf. Kuṟuntokai 1[or 0].2)”, and when one says ‘[a woman who has] upper arms thick like bamboo’ (vēy purai paṇait tōḷ [ivaḷ]; Akanāṉuṟu 2.11), and …”

Indien 206, folio 27v, line 3. Courtesy of the BnF.

Indien 206, folio 27v, line 3. Courtesy of the BnF.

vamvaṟum “it occurs” or “they occur”. I have yet to encounter any instances of this abbreviation.

vaṟuvaralāṟu “the manner of occurrence, example”, made up of varal, an action noun of varutal “to come, occur” and āṟu “way, manner”. Indien 206 27v2: avaṟṟuṭ – paṇpuvamai – va-ṟu – (commentary ad TA 2.4) “Among these an example of the simile based on a quality …” In Indien 205 20r6, the scribe uses a slightly different but syntactically equivalent phrase without abbreviation: avaṟṟuḷ paṇpuvamai varum āṟu “Among those, the manner in which the simile based on a quality occurs …”. Instances of the abbreviation, however, can readily be found elsewhere in Indien 205, e.g., 65r5. In both manuscripts, varalāṟu is construed with paṇpuvamai, whereas in the edition and UVSL 181 varalāṟu is entirely omitted and we have simply paṇpuvamai immediately followed by the examples. In all instances, however, each example is punctuated with eṉavarum (em) and the entire sentence ends with varum as expected.

Indien 206, folio 27v, line 2. Courtesy of the BnF.

Indien 206, folio 27v, line 2. Courtesy of the BnF.

Indien 205, folio 20r, line 6. Courtesy of the BnF.

Indien 205, folio 20r, line 6. Courtesy of the BnF.

It is pointed out in Winslow’s Dictionary, p. 918 col. 1 (and referred to in the TL s.v.) that varalāṟu is a synonym of utāraṇam (< Skt. udāharaṇa), and we do indeed find variation between the two, e.g., in Indien 205 7v8 (commentary ad TA 1.16), the examples are introduced simply by utāraṇam, whereas in Indien 206 9r5 we have the abbreviation வறு.

Indien 205, folio 7v, line 8. Courtesy of the BnF.

Indien 205, folio 7v, line 8. Courtesy of the BnF.

We can also observe that in each MS we have a slightly different syntactic structure than in the previous instances, namely, the example verse ends with etu = eṉpatu, a pronominal form of the quotative verb that forms the predicate of the sentence: “The example is the statement …” Again, our edition matches UVSL 181 5r6, which both have atu “that”, referring here to the poetic quality ceṟivu “density”, and the closing formula eṉa varum after the verse.

Indien 206, folio 199r, detail. Courtesy of the BnF.

Indien 206, folio 199r, detail. Courtesy of the BnF.

Column 2

எனனின எனபதெனனெனின

எனப தென னுதலிறறொ வெனின


eṉṉiṉ – eṉpat’ eṉṉ eṉiṉ “if one says what is that [content of quote]”.

eṉpat’ eṉ ṉutaliṟṟō veṉiṉ “If one says what is the purpose of that [content of a quote]”. These appear to be two possible ways of reading the abbreviation. I am not aware of any clear examples for the first meaning, but the second occurs in the commentary to almost every cūttiram and forms a set question and answer with the following item. See below for examples.

uṇar-ṟṟu- eṇarttuta ṉutaliṟṟu “its purpose is to inform (about)”. I have discussed the role of these two phrases elsewhere (D’Avella 2019). In short, they form a set pair that introduces a cūttiram’s general purport or purpose. A standard example can be found ad TA 2.5: Indien 206 29v6f.: eṉ – ṉiṉ – … uṇar – ṟṟu; Indien 205 22r1f.: ic -ṉiṉ … uṇar-ṟṟu. In Indian 205, we have the addition of ic (இச), which stands for ic cūttiram “this cūttiram” and so fleshes out the phrase. Note the use of ṉiṉ without eṉ, which is elided, the full formula being ic cūttiram eṉ ṉutaliṟṟ-ō veṉiṉ. In the corresponding passage, UVSL 181 16r4 shows slight variation in the second part: eṉṉiṉ itu … uṇarttukiṉṟatu. Here the second abbreviation is not employed and the formula is slightly simplified (the additional itu is an anomaly and absent elsewhere) in that we have the finite present of uṇarttutal “to inform”. So far as I have observed the scribe of UVSL 181 consistently writes this opening formula as such.

Indien 206, folio 29v, line 6f. Courtesy of the BnF.

Indien 206, folio 29v, line 6f. Courtesy of the BnF.

Indien 206, folio 40r, line 1. Courtesy of the BnF.

Indien 206, folio 40r, line 1. Courtesy of the BnF.

Indien 205, folio 22r, lines 1-2. Courtesy of the BnF.


Indien 205, folio 22r, lines 1-2. Courtesy of the BnF.

Indien 205, folio 22r, line 2. Courtesy of the BnF.

Indien 205, folio 22r, line 2. Courtesy of the BnF.

One striking omission in this list, is the common abbreviation எது etu = என்பது eṉpatu, which closes off a quote and incorporates it into the syntax of a sentences, usually as a nominal predicate with varalāṟu as in Indien 206 45r4.

Indien 205, folio 22r, line 2. Courtesy of the BnF.

Indien 205, folio 22r, line 2. Courtesy of the BnF.’

This is not the place to survey the evolution of these abbreviations as Tamil texts began to be printed, but we can speak broadly about those that are now quite common and those that have clearly fallen out of fashion. Perhaps most noticeable is the absence in our list of an abbreviation for eṉṟa vāṟu “how to say” placed at the end of a paraphrase. Most modern printed editions abbreviate it to று, but such an abbreviation, to the best of my knowledge, is not found in the manuscripts of the TA looked at for this post. Conversely, uṇar-ṟṟu completely falls out of vogue, whereas eṉ-ṉiṉ or simply ன் survives initially but has fallen out of favor in more recent times. There is of course also synchronic variation between editors.

In closing, I would like to note that on rare occasions modern editors have tried to provide a list of abbreviations and the words they stand for. One such instance that has many common elements with our list is the ipputtakattuḷḷa nūṟpeyar mutaliyavaṟṟiṉ mutaṟkuṟippakarāti “the primary abbreviations for the names of works, etc. found in this book” in U.Vē. Cāminātaiyar’s 2nd edition of the Naṉṉūl with Mayalainātar’s commentary. We can see that though there is much overlap, the uṇar-ṟṟu is entirely missing and e – ṉ corresponds to a much longer phrase, though more or less equivalent in meaning: eṉ ṉutali eṭuttukkoḷḷappaṭṭatō veṉiṉ “if one says, by denoting what has (the cūttiram) been taken up?”

Naṉṉūl with Mayalainātar’s commentary, p. ii.

Naṉṉūl with Mayalainātar’s commentary, p. ii.

Tracking the use of abbreviations in Tamil manuscripts may help to establish provenance if it can be shown that certain habits are consistent to particular regions, scribes and time periods. As we have seen, however, even within a single manuscript there is likely to be some variation though on the whole I have noted considerable consistency.



Bibliothèque nationale de France. Département des Manuscrits

Indien 205 Taṇḍiyalaṅgâram, avec commentaire. (Cabaton, p. 34;

Indien 206 Taṇḍiyalaṅgâram, avec commentaire. (Cabaton, p. 34;

U. V. Swaminatha Iyer Library

UVSL 181 Taṇṭiyalaṅkāram [text and commentary] (Catalogue vol. I, p. 103).

Primary Sources

Naṉṉūl of Pavanaṇṭi: Pavaṇantimuṉivar iyaṟṟiya Naṉṉūl mūlamum Mayilai Nātar uraiym. Ed. by U. Vē. Cāminātiayar. 2nd Ed. Ceṉṉai: Kapīr accukkūṭam, 1946.

Taṇṭiyalaṅkāram of Taṇṭi: Taṇṭiyāciriyar iyaṟṟiya Taṇṭiyalaṅkāram muḻuvatum mūlamum paḻaiyavuraiyum. Ed. by Vai. Mu. Kōpāla-kiruṣṇamācāriyar. Ceṉṉai: Tiruvallikkēṇi, 1956.

Secondary Sources

No Author (1956). A Descriptive Catalogue of Tamil Manuscripts in Mahāmahōpādhyāya Dr. V. Swāmināthaiyar Library. vol. I. Madras: Mahamahopadhyaya Dr. V. Swaminathaiyar Library.

Cabaton, A. (1912). Catalogue sommaire des manuscrits indiens, indo-chinois & malayo-polynésiens de la bibliothèque nationale. Paris: Bibliothèque nationale (;2).

D’Avella, Victor B. (2019). “The Beginnings of the Tamil Commentarial Idiom”, in (eds.) Anandakechinen, Suganya and Victor B. D’Avella, The Commentary Idioms of the Tamil Learned Tradition. Collection Indologie 141, NETamil Series 5. Pondicherry: Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient; Institut français de Pondichéry.

Winslow, Miron (1977). Tamil-English Dictionary. Reprint edited by Klaus Ludwig Janert. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag.

Suggestion citation


D’Avella, Victor B. (2021). “Paratextual Material in Indien 206, the Taṇṭiyalaṅkāram“. Texts Surrounding Texts: Satellite Stanzas, Prefaces and Colophons in South-Indian Manuscripts (Paris BnF and Hamburg Stabi collections). 24 September.


OpenEdition suggests that you cite this post as follows:
Victor D'Avella (September 24, 2021). Paratextual Material in Indien 206, the Taṇṭiyalaṅkāram. Texts Surrounding Texts. Retrieved July 18, 2024 from

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