Ainnurruvar

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Ainnurruvar is a medieval merchant guild in the Tamil Nadu region of India between the eighth and the 13th centuries. . This period, organised merchant guilds exerted considerable power and influence. Ainnurruvar was one of the most prominent of these guilds.[1] During the Chola Empire they were regarded as the elite amongst the South Indian merchant organizations.[2]

Origins[edit]
A Tamil inscription of 1088 A.D. found in Sumatra, Indonesia refers to the “Nagarathar Senapathi Nattu cettiar” as belonging to the Ainnurruvar group.[3] By the twelfth century, the Ainnuruvars’ had encompassed other trading guilds to arise as a dominating force. For instance the Manigram Nagarattam states itself to be a subsidiary group.[2]
An inscription in Piranmalai language makes references to “cetti”s as “flourishing” and as “being integral to the Tisai Ayirattu Ainnurruvar organization and occupying 18 pattinams, 32 valarpurams (major trade centres) and 64 Kadigai valams.[2] Significantly the number 18 resembles the name of one of the seven geographical divisions (Pathinettu uur vattahai) and 32 plus 64 equate to the legendary count of 96 Villages of the Nattukkottai Chettiars. The Piranmalai inscriptions (13th century) also speak of the Ainnurruvar, the Manigrammam of Kodumbalur (near Pudukkottai) and Nagarathars as far away as from Kerala and Sinhala (Refer the “Kerala Singa Vala Nadu” phrase in Nagarathar marriage settlements (Isaikkudimanam) coming together to donate huge funds for the temple.(The Trading world of the Tamil merchant: Evolution of merchant capitalism in the Coramandal By Kanakalatha Mukund).
The Ainnurruvar had their original home base in Karnataka. A part of this community should have later moved to Pudukkottai. They should have received the support of the Iruukuvels who ruled the nearby Kodumbalur. These Irukkuvel’s had marital alliances with the Later Cholas. The great Chola emperor Rajaraja had married a Kodumbalur girl. The connection between the Velars of Kodumbalur and the Ainnurruvar community goes back to the Silappathikaram period when Kovalan and Kannagi are said to have stayed at Kodumbalur on their way from Kaveri Poom Pattinam to Madurai.
The association between the Cholas and the Ainnurruvar has been well established from the number of finds of Ainnurruvar inscriptions. The maximum number of Ainnurruvar ins
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