Guild Inscriptions

Trade played a significant role in the life of Sangam age Tamils. There are some stray occurrences of regional trade guilds like Vellarai Nigamaththor in the Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions. From 9 th century onwards, such trade guilds started functioning in a somewhat autonomous or distinct manner.

They convened their meetings, took decisions, engraved them in separate inscriptions and installed such inscribed slabs in public places. Ayyapozhil Ainnurruvar (The five hundred of Aihole), Tisaiayirathu Ainnurruvar (The five hundred of the thousand directions), Nanadesi (those of various countries), Valanjiyar (Balijas or Banajigas), Pathinenvishayaththar , and Manigramathar are some of the trade guilds that functioned in such a manner.

Chitramezhipperiya nattar, another guild, but of the agriculturists, started functioning from 11 th century onwards.It had its own conventions and functions,and its functions were at times complementary to, and at usually in combination with, those of the trade guilds.

These guilds had their own militia, and other paraplernilia. They had their prasastis (or meykkeerththis) in both Sanskrit and Tamil. It was customary to carve the figures of the trident, money purse, conch,  plough, anvil stone, sword, elephant, horse, mule, and the deity Ayyapozhil Parameswari or Badra Kali, along with the inscription.

Ayyappozhil - Pathinenvisayam Inscription, Singalandakapuram, Tiruchirappalli District.

Nanadesi guild inscription (rear side) , Elgamvalsu, Erode District Now at Dept. Site Museum, Coimbatore

Rudrapalayam (Displayed at Dept. Site Museum, Coimbatore)

Tank inscription of Ainnurruvar, 13th Century CE, Pozhichchalur, Kanchipuram District

(Front View) Nattar Inscription , 13th century CE, Thirupputkuzhi, Kanchipuram District

(Back view) Nattar Inscription , 13th century CE, Thirupputkuzhi, Kanchipuram District