Saturday, January 23, 2010

225. Mura, the laterite

Languages, like those of Dravidian Group, are like large botanical farms spread over millions of hectares of land, with lateral variations in morphology.Like farms, the languages also grow and evolve in situ in the region. But the words are like seeds or seedlings.They can be brought from other regions or can be carried to other regions along with the migrants. When we decipher that so and so word may have been brought from an African or other source people jump to negate instantly comparing that the two languages (donor and receipent) are starkly different in terms of linguistic structure and composition.
Like the farms, languages are not static. They evolve over a period of time. History is a prolonged period of time.The past may have been tumultuous periods when one set of well grown languages, due to socio-cultural clashes, were eventually overpowered and modified over a period of time into another set of languages.
East African word
To the list of words derived from African sources, we may add one more word now familiar in Tulu language. In the coastal region laterite is a common occurrence.Most of the area is covered by a hard cap of reddish or brownish rock known as ‘laterite’ and we call it ‘mura’ or murakallu. Murakallu is a familiar soft rock rock that hardens upon exposure to daylight.Murum is used in civil engineering also. While levelling and paving or ashpalting, rubbles are spread and murrum is put over these stone pieces.
It is difficult to estimate the period when the laterite were cut into bricks and used for construction of houses.However, if you see the traditional large axe that is employed to cut the bricks, you may be reminded of the legends of Parasurama.

The laterite in East Africa is known as ‘murrum’ in their language. It is possible that early human migrants carried this word from East Africa to the Tulunadu.


  1. In Italian "muro" means wall. "muratore" means mason. The Italian surname "Murari"(nothing to do with Murari or Krishna, the enemy of Murasura, commander of Narakasura) indicates that once upon a time their occupation was bricklaying. In any case Mura-Asura also had to do with "wall" as he built a very strong fort with "Mura pasha" which was inaccessible to enemies. Though "pasha" is interpreted as rope, pashaNa means rock (mura kall)
    Kowdoor Narayana Shetty

  2. Thank you Narayan! It is an interesting connection. Besides,'murus'=wall, in Latin also. Hence, in English,a 'mural' is a painting on the wall.
    Old words have migrated with people to different parts of the world.
    What we have to find out is whether the 'muarkall' was being used for construction of walls in the antiquity also?If so, since how long?


Blog Archive

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 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

A Coastal estuary

A Coastal estuary
Holegadde near Honavar,Uttara Kannada dist, Karnataka

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