Toponymy, a division of Onomastics, is an interesting subject. A Place name may be an Endonymy, i.e. name given by the people themselves living within the locality, or an Exonymy, i.e. a name given to a place by an outsider. Our curiosity is enkindled after seeing Place Names with ‘kuppe (kuppa, guppa) ’ word element existing even outside Tulu Nadu and India. We have been expounding on the origin of Tulu place names off and on. It is a wonder how place names with a common prefix or suffix like ‘Kuppe’ are generally ignored.
Like ‘Ala’, an ancient place name indicator word (Our Post 315 dated 18-09- 2013), ‘Kuppe’ is a historical root word (cited in Post 234, Dated 30-3-2010) in place names in Tulu Nadu and world-wide. ‘Ala’, meaning as water, water bodies and things associated with water, is found in Arabian and Uralian languages, including Indo-Eurasian and Altaic.
Our inquisitiveness to explore ‘Kuppe’ is further strengthened after reading a Paper (undated and in part) by Sosale Chandrasekhar at Department of Chemistry, Middle East Technical University, 06531, Ankara (Turkey) during his Sabbatical leave from Department of Organic Chemistry, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore-560012/India. The Paper is titled: “An apparent sprinkling of Altaic words in a Dravidian language (Kannada): Possible historical significance for South Asia“. He listed some Turkish words with their equivalents in Kannada (Altaic words.SC-Cog.pdf).
Polysemy, i.e. diversity of meanings of a word, makes it difficult to decipher exact meanings of a place name. Nevertheless, an attempt is made below to explore the word ‘Kuppe’.
Kuppe is a word describing the geographical and geological features of a place. It may mean (1)A heap (invariably in curved shape).(2).A spring of water (3) A marshy land or (4) A highland or hill.
The term is comparable with kuru (ಕುರು=ಪ್ರಸ್ಥಭೂಮಿ). In many Uralic languages, ‘kuru’ means mountain or mountain forest (Note the place names in Mahabharata: Indraprastha and Kurukshetra).
[One possible line of explanation is that a native from kuru, a highlander, might have been called Kuruba (ಕುರುಬ= shepherd; An Alternate extant explanation is the one who grazes kuri (sheep) is a kuruba (sheparad). It is possible that the evolution of word occurred like: Kuruba> Kurba> Kuppa> Kuppe]. Secluded far-flung areas of tribal inhabitants are called ‘Koppa’. (Refer Tulu Lexicon)
Kuppa (male) and Kuppi (female) were the popular Proper names heard in Tulu Nadu as late as 20th Century.
We may compare the Dravida word Kuppe with analogous term in German and related languages.
1. Kuppe is the term used in German speaking Central Europe for mountain or hill with a rounded summit that has no rock formation (Tor). It is a convex land-form, similar to English knoll or dome or a hat-like covering. It is derived from Late Latin/Common Roman word ‘Kuppa, meaning Beaker. A range of such hills is called ‘kuppenbirge’ (Eg. Dammersfeldkuppe, a kuppe or domed hill in the Rhӧn). Wassenkuppe is the highest peak mountain within German State of Hesse. It is large plateau formation, now developed as a sports centre for para-gliding, snow-kiting, etc. Kuppen is a common surname found in Europe.
2. Places where sedimentary beds have bulged and where rising oil or natural gas has accumulated are also called ‘kuppen’ in German.
3. Kopje means a small hill in Europe. Kop means a hill in South Africa. We can deduce that the Khopoli (Khop= Sloping Mountain + oli = range) at the foot-hill of Western Ghats of Maharashtra fits to the description as said above.
(Compare the traditional Tulu jewelry ‘Koppu’, a hanging nose or ear ring, one end is fixed to hair lock above ear of that side.)
Kuppe Place names
We have culled some names from Census India and some other, known to us. These places are mostly in or around mountain areas.
· Kuppepadavu near Kulavoor, Mangaluru Taluk, Dakshina Kannada. Tulu Lexicon gives the meaning of Padavu (ಪದವು) as ‘a tableland or a grassland on a plateau.’ Kuppepadavu, is a rocky granitic area covered by laterite at random. It is undulating as usual coastal land-forms with a few elevated rocky outcrops on the bank of Phalguni (Gurupura) River. In olden days, we have seen grass is allowed to grow in abandon in such a Padavu for grazing cattle and/or harvested for thatching house-roofs.
· Kuppettu, Belthangadi Taluk, Dakshina Kannada: The village is famous for the powerful Divine Spirit ‘Panjurli’.
· Kuppalli, a village in Tirthahalli Taluk of Shimoga District. It is the birth place of Kannada Poet and Scholar Late K.V. Puttappa (Pen name: Kuvempu)
· Kuppe (Soraba, Shimoga)
· Kuppe (Kunigal, Tumkur)
· Kuppe (Nagamandala, Mandya)
· Kuppe (Alur/Hasan)
· Kuppe (Holenarasipura, Hasan)
· Kuppe (Krishnarajanagara, Mysore)
· Kuppe Hosahalli (Alur, Hasan)
· Kuppedada (Shrirampatna, Mandya)
· Kuppegala (Mysore)
· Kuppehantha (Krihnarajanagara, Mysore)
· Kuppegolakatta (Hunsur, Mysore)
· Kuppelur (Ranibennur, Haveri)
· Kuppemala (Magadi, Ramanagar)
· Kuppenahalli (Sidlaghatta, Chikkaballapura)
· Bylakuppe (Kushalnagar, Kodagu). A Tibetan refugee colony.
· Siraguppa (Bellary): It means village with pile of wealth.
Andhra Pradesh (Undivided):
· Kuppenakuntla (Penuballi, Khamam)
· Kuppam (Chakraraajepet, Y.S.R.). Dravidian University is located at Srinivasavanam, Kuppam-517426.
· Kuppam (Chittoor)
· Kuppambadur (Ramachandrapuram, Chittoor)
· Kuppampalle (Venkatagiri, Nellore)
· Kuppepalayam (Coimbatore)
Jammu & Kashmir:
· Kupwara. It is a land of meadows, mountains, gushing waters, and fresh air.
The ancient word Kuppe (Guppe) in Tulu and Kannada are shared by other Dravidian languages Tamil (Kuppai, Kuppam, ) Telugu (kuppa), Malayalam (kuppa), Koda (Kuppi),Konda(Kupa), and Pali (kuppa, Koppa),etc. Bhadriraju Krishnamurthy considered the term kup- to be a Proto-Dravidian root word.Kuppe and Kuppasa
Kuppe is an ancient word that means dome, summit crest etc in European/ German as well as in south Indian languages. Probably it also referred to human anatomical part of breast which is domal in shape. This assumption is derived from the existence of Dravidian word (Tulu, Kannada etc ) Kuppasa which means blouse or the garment used to cover the breast part.
In the ancient days migration was a necessity borne out of compelling circumstances – economical, socio-religious, political and calamitous events. Proverbial ancient migrations- to and fro – first from Africa to Asia and Europe and then to America was the key factor in the evolution of world languages having perceivable relationship. The ineluctable truth is that there are many ancient heritage words in world languages, which one can judge from a broader plane. The dissolution or evolvement of a language can be explained as an outcome of migrations from time immemorial.
It is inferable from our general study that the geographical term ‘kuppe’ (with its derivatives) is a root historical word. It is worthy of inclusion in the list of historical words, borne out of co-habitation, communication and evolution.
with Ravi Mundkur