The word ‘Tulu’ itself is of remote antiquity. Online search shall convince you that the word Tulu is more global in dimension than we can imagine.It appears that the word 'Tulu' originally meant 'water and water related aspects' in the language of its origin, but might have acquired additional meanings subsequently due to changes in environmental situations.
In the ancient Sumerian language“tu” morpheme represented ‘water spring or well’ or ‘water connected activities like bathing or washing’ and the morpheme “lu” was indicative of quantity or abundance, people etc. There was another Sumerian word “tulu” or “tule” that meant ‘soft or placid’. (Compare similarity of the latter meaning with our ‘tuluve’ jack fruit.).Tulu is found in the list of African personal names and the word means ‘spread out in different directions’, possibly implying migratory character of the Tulu tribes. Another vocally analogous African word ‘Zulu’ also means water.
I believe that the word ‘Tulu’ existed since Sumerian period of early civilization (ca. 6000-4000 BC) in north African-Mediterranean region, where from these original ancient Tulu tribes migrated. The ancient Sumerian and related languages form the basis for the evolution of many of the Afro-Asiatic languages of present day. The word 'Tulu' originally meant (1) water or activities connected with water (2) placid and soft.These ancient meanings still survive today in spite of the passage of several millenia in the time scale. These Sumerian meanings are analogous to those interpreted by Sediyapu Krishna Bhat and Manjeswar Govinda Pai in the context of present Tulu in Tulunad.
The Ethiopia can be described as cradle of human race, since the earliest human fossils (Homo sapiens) Omo I and Omo II dated back to 165,000 years were found in Ethiopia. As reconstructed by the genome studies complemented with archeology and paleontology, human migrations started out of Ethiopia and Africa in several phases.
Tulu place names
Tulu is the name of several Ethiopian towns and settlements. ‘Tulu’ is also a surname or part of the name among the Ethiopian people. For example, Derartu Tulu is an Ethiopian female athlete. There are at least four places (towns, settlements) called ‘Tulu’ in Ethiopia, at least one each in the other neighboring African countries like Kenya, Sudan, Nigeria and Zaire. In Ethiopia there are more than 12 places in the online maps with ‘Tulu’ as prefix, such as Tulu Bolo, Tulu Bora, Tulu Ferda, Tulu Guracha etc.
On the basis of these data I suggest that the original Tulu tribes originated in Ethiopia in northern Africa and migrated out of Africa under adverse environmental conditions.Based on environmental geological data scientists have interpreted that around 2000 BC, wide spread desertification of northern Africa prompted many tribes to migrate out of Africa. Tulu place names in other African countries are suggestive of migration of early Tulu tribes in different directions. The present African meaning of ‘spread in different direction’ for the word ‘Tulu’ could have been the result of migrations.
The exact nature of the language of the primary Tulu tribes hailing from Ethiopia is difficult to conjecture now but we can presume some of the original words are still preserved as fossils in present Tulu language.
The Tulu language has grown or evolved independently of African languages during the last 6000 years in such a way that they have entirely separate identities and characteristics. A lot of things change as a result of divergent evolutionary trends. But some fossil root words may exist still!
Outside the African continent, Tulu place names can also be found in Pakistan (‘Thulu’), Afghanistan, Mynamar, China, Bolivia, Brazil, Papua New Guinea and Phillipines.
The Afghan Television channel, at present, is called ‘Tulu TV’, the word ‘Tulu’ in the present Afghan language means something like ‘the rising’ or ‘the dawn’. Note that Afghan meaning of ‘Tulu” is different from the African roots. Afghanistan is close to Pirak where many of the tribes settled during the period ca.2000 to 500 BC. The Pirak episode of Tulu tribes has been discussed in several earlier posts in this blog.
The Tulu tribes settled and lived in the Pirak area for some 1500 years, then again migrated (ca 500-300 BC) to their present homeland in Tulunad.
The original ‘Tulu’ may have been the name of the mother who migrated from Africa to Pirak along with her family. The original ‘Tulu’ family carried several root words along with them during the migration from their early homeland. A few such Tulu families or clans were active in the last millennium also around Kundapur, Honavar and Banavasi region.
And Krishnadevaraya who ruled Vijayanagar was product of one such family that called itself Tulu clan.
Books for Reference
- A Comparative Study of Tulu Dialects By Dr. Padmanabha Kekunnaya. Govinda Pai Reserach Centre, UDupi. 1994
- Koti Chennaya: Janapadiya Adhyayana. By Dr. Vamana Nandavar. Hemanshu Prakashana ,Mangalore.2001.
- Male kudiyaru. Dr B. A.Viveka Rai and D.Yadupathi Gowda, Mangalore University,1996.
- Mogaveera Samskriti By Venkataraja Punimchattaya. Karnataka Sahitya Academy.1993.
- Mugeraru:Jananga Janapada Adhyayana. By Dr Abhaya Kumar Kaukradi.Kannada & Culture Directorate,Bangalore & Karnataka Tulu Academy, Mangalore,1997.
- Puttubalakeya Pad-danagalu. Ed: Dr B.A.Viveka Rai,Yadupati Gowda and Rajashri, Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheswara Tulu Peeta. Mangalore University.2004
- Se'erige. Ed:Dr K.Chinnapa Gowda.Madipu Prakashana,Mangalagangotri,2000.
- Studies in Tuluva History and Culture.by Dr P Gururaja Bhat (1975).Milagres College,Kallinapur,Udupi.
- Taulava Sanskriti by Dr.B.A.Viveka Rai, Sahyadri Prakashana,Mysore 1977
- TuLu naaDu-nuDi By Dr.PalthaDi Ramakrishna Achar, Puttur.
- TuLu NighanTu. (Editor in Chief: Dr U.P.Upadhyaya, Govinda Pai Research Centre,Udupi. Six volumes. 1988 to 1997
- Tulu Patero-A Philology & Grammar of Tulu Language by Budhananda Shivalli.2004.Mandira Prakashana Mangalore. p.317. (The book is in Tulu Language using Kannada script)
- TuLunadina ShasanagaLa Sanskritika Adhyayana. By Shaila T. Verma (2002) Jnanodaya Prakashana,Bangalore, p.304.(Kannada)
- Tuluvala Baliyendre. Compiled by N.A.Sheenappa Hegde,Polali,Sri Devi Prakashana,Parkala,1929/1999
Copy? Right - but kindly remember to acknowledge!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.