History as we know it, as we studied in school, revolves around kings and queens, names and dates, and the rise and fall of kingdoms/dynasties, and conquests.

This series of blog posts will start off by focussing on the lives of ordinary people and how societies and cultures developed.

The history of Tamilakam may be divided into three chronological periods:

  1. Pre-historical times (pre 3rd century BCE)
  2. The Sangam era (3rd century BCE to 3rd century CE)
  3. Post Sangam era (3rd to the 200th century CE)

(Caveat: These time periods are guestimates.)

(Image source: Wiki)

The first half a dozen or so blog posts shall focus on pre-historical times.

Five tribes (for want of a better word) peopled prehistoric South India, as distinguished by the geographical characteristics of the regions they inhabited:

  1. Agriculturists of the Marudam (the arable lands)
  2. Pastoralists of the Mullai (forested lands)
  3. Hunters of the Kurinji (hill country)
  4. Fishermen of the Neydal (coastal lands)
  5. Nomads of the Paalai (semi-arid lands)

The societies in these five geographical regions did not develop in isolation. Neither did they evolve in a straight timeline to suit the agenda of historians.

There was interaction among the various “tribes” with each borrowing norms from the others, and adapting or discarding as their needs and beliefs warranted.

Over the next few weeks we shall look at each of these societies with regards to their social structure; the position of men and women, the primary vocations, and the approach to love and marriage.

(Disclaimer: Treat these posts on Ancient (South) Indian history as highly simplified introductions to a complex, often conflicting, and vague period mired in the mists of antiquity.)

*** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2018 ***

27 comments

    1. Hello Mani,

      First comment on my blog. Welcome aboard:-)

      I was born in Singapore but my maternal grandfather came from South India. I’m more than happy to share the discoveries of our mutual roots.

      All good wishes,
      Eric

  1. It would be interesting to know how each tribe views the other. Are they opposed to inter-marriage, is any tribe of a higher cast and how do they acconodate each other. Hope to discover more from your future posts.

    1. Hello Windy,

      The caste system was an import from the northern clans and not indigenous to the south. Considering that back then India was a vast melting pot, one can safely believe that cross cultural marriages were common.

      Cheers!
      Eric

  2. Yes, I’ve been separated from the internet in Honduras. Your Indian history promises to be fascinating – I’m glad that you are doing it as I, like most people in our part of the world, know little or nothing about this rich heritage. I am also fascinated by your commitment to give information about the common people’s lives rather than the ruler’s reigns. You may take a place next to Michener! Keep going!

    1. Hello Jane,

      Pleased that you like the focus on ordinary people.

      As mentioned in an earlier post, I did some research to write my forthcoming book, Song of the Ankle Rings which is based on an ancient Indian classic Silappatikaram. It is a story about ordinary, albeit wealthy, folks of the merchant and harlot classes. Not royalty.

      I thought some background regarding ancient historical conventions might set the stage, so to speak, for readers to better appreciate the plot and characters, as closer to the book launch, I plan to post some excerpts.

      The protagonist in Song of the Ankle Rings is a woman, arguably a female first for a work of ancient literature which are usually filled with male heroes, gods, and kings. And one of the two primary female characters was, in my opinion, a feminist. How about that – early CE India and a feminist. This is a story that must be told, and in a manner that modern readers might invest in. That was my challenge.

      As for taking a place next to James Michener. First, that’s a long reach. Second, and I draw from your recent post Grim Reaper, I’m not ready. LOL! (I know you did not mean it that way 🙂 That’s what happens when one spends too much time with the Brothers Grinn.)

      Cheerio!
      Eric

    1. Hello Ina,

      Glad that my Indian history posts are to your liking. I’ve always enjoyed history and even at a young age wondered about the lives of ordinary people.

      Have a great weekend ahead,
      Eric

  3. Will you be commenting on the Adivasi Tribes (Early Peoples) These predated that early era. I met some anthripologists from Australia in South India who were studying the language of these people in the Niligari Hills. According to them there was a resemblance to Australian aboriginal languages. Don’t know if that’s a fact. Do you have information from your study?

    1. Hello Ian,

      Obviously you are well informed and well read on India. Yes, there is much information tracing back to Australian and even African roots. With regards to Australian links, one hypothesis (perhaps it is even a fact) proposes that India and Australia were joined before the plates broke and moved apart.

      I quote from my long overdue WIP novel (I posted excerpts here on my blog, if you recall) – Fallen Grace – “Mountaineers have discovered fossilized sea creatures in the highest reaches of the Himalayas, creatures that are identical to fossils found in Australian waters.”

      My current posts do not specifically address the Niligari Hill tribes. The approach is more generic.

      Cheers!
      Eric

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