Tamil Diplomat

Metal castings of Nagas found in Batticaloa

By Professor Dr. S. Pathmanathan

In a school exhibition held in Batticaloa district some antique metal articles were displayed. Finding some letters in these artefacts, our friend, Selvanayagam Pathmanathan ,a teacher by profession took some snaps of those articles and sent it to us. The letters on them were so faint and most of the people who had seen them could not have discerned it as letters.

He had sent us snaps of 3 artefacts, two of which are brass castings. One is of the shape of a cat and other is a small pot like article, with strange motifs. There were letters at all levels of this pot. The name “ Vezh Nagan palli” ( வேள்ணாகன் பள்ளி  ) is identifiable on it.  On the other, one the name “ Vezh Nagan Mahan Kannan” (வேள்ணாகன் மகன் கண்ணன் ) is visible.

The third on is silver casting , with the shape of necked flask (கெண்டி) with a long and narrow neck. The handle is located at the top of the neck. The name “ Vezh Nagan Palli” (   வேள்ணாகன் பள்ளி) is visible on it. If the name is identified correctly, then this flask had come from a palace of a Vezh Nagan. This could had been used to drink water or spray perfumes.

Although the first one looks like a kitten at the first glance, it is really a metaphoric of a Tiger. When the image was zoomed in a computer a tiger with angry look is visible. It is notable that, in the plates found in places like Vellavely, three images of tiger cubs are seen. Tiger should be one of the symbols of Nagas. If it so, then we can think that Nagas have prehistoric links with Cholas. The name “ Vezh Nagan palli” is written in Prahmi alphabets of 1st and 2nd centuries BC.

Metal castings of Nagas

Edict written pot

In this the decorative motifs are unusually drawn from top to bottom. As it bears a “ Vezh Nagan palli” inscription, this should be item used in a palace of a Vel.

Edict written Silver Flask (Kendi – கெண்டி )

The shape of this silver flask is a strange one. So far no similar ones had been found in Sri Lanka. The neck is very long one. The handle is located at the top of the neck. The usage of this could not been determined yet. The presence of “ Vezh Nagan palli” on this article is of great importance. If they had been actually produced in Batticaloa, then, the Nagas there are should have well advanced in production of metal articles and casting art even before 2,000 years.

The Naga artefacts found so far are made of stone. Now metal articles of Nagas are surfacing. This is a great turning point in the awareness about Nagas. There is nothing wrong in considering the production method and casting method prevailed in Mathurai Kanchi  are utilized in the Naga Community of Eelam.