This section is from the book "Some Contributions Of South India To Indian Culture", by S. Krishnaswami Aiyangar. Also available from Amazon: Some Contributions of South India to Indian Culture.
(1) The Kuttuvan king of the beautiful garland dropping honey like water, gives away in head-loads, to those that go to him, the sandal from the hill and the pearl from the sea, along with the gold brought in payment by ships, and carried by canal boats into his port of Musiri of thenoisy beach - Paranarin Puram, 343.
(2) The prosperous Musiri to which come the well-rigged ships of the Yavanas tearing up the foaming great river Sulli of the Cheras, carrying gold to pay for the cargo of pepper with which they returned usually - Kattur Tayam Kannan in Aham 148.
Beyond Vaikkarai, the Periplus refers to the dark-red mountains and of the district (stretching 43 along the coast towards the south) "Paralia" generally taken as equivalent to Pural or Coast; the first port in this coast region is what he calls Balita, identified with Varkkali or Janar-danam, which in those days had a fine harbour and a village by the sea shore. Then comes Kumari with a cape and a harbour. It is also referred to as a holy bathing place, and the coast region is then described as extending eastwards till it reaches Korkai "where the pearl fisheries are," and the Periplus offers the interesting piece of information, "that they are worked by condemned criminals." Then follows another coast region with a region inland called according to the Periplus Argaru,1 taken to be the equivalent of Uraiyur. These two regions of the coast country are somewhat differently named in Ptolemy. He calls the region between Nirkun-ram and Camorin as in the country of Aioi. (Tamil Aay). Then follows the region which he calls Kareoi (Tamil Karai or Karaiyar, a class of fisherfolk), and the coast country extending from Korkai upwards is spoken of by Ptolemy in two divisions. The country of the Batoi (Tamil Vettuvar) and Poralia in t\he country of the Toringoi (error for Soringoi, Cholas). The exports from this region according to the Periplus are the pearls 1 collected from part of what was gathered each season in the appointed pearl-fields, and a kind of fine muslin called Argaritic. The next important ports mentioned in this region by the Periplus are three, Camara identified with Kaveripattanam), Poduca (may be a Puduvai) and it is doubtful whether it stands for Pondicherry or a place in the vicinity. Then Sopatma (Tamil Sopattinam or fortified-port). There come ships from what he calls Damirica
1 Is this not more correctly Uragapura (Halasya or Madura), the capital of the Pandyas ? Uraiyur the Chola capital and the country dependent thereon must have begun far north of this region - somewhere about Tondi in the Ramnad District now.
1 Pliny says (.Macrindle's Ancient India, Chap. IX, pp. 54-58):-" Our ladies glory in having pearls suspended from their fingers, or two or three of them dangling from their ears, delighted even with the rattling of the pearls as they knock against each other; and now, at the present day, the poorer classes are even affecting them, as people are in the habit of saying, that " a pearl worn by a woman in public is as good as a lictor walking before her." Nay, even more than this, they put them on their feet, and that, not only on the laces of their sandals but all over the shoes; it is not enough to wear pearls, but they must tread upon them and walk with them under foot as well.
"I once saw Lollia Paulina, the wife of the Emperor Caius - it was not at any public festival, or any solemn ceremonial, but only at an ordinary betrothal entertainment - covered with emeralds and pearls, which shone in alternate layers upon her head, in her hair, in her wreaths, in her ears, upon her neck, in her bracelets, and on her fingers, and the value of which amounted in all to 40,000,000 sesterces; indeed she was prepared at once to prove the fact by showing the receipts and acquittances. Nor were these any presents made by a prodigal potentate, but treasures which had descended to her from her grand-father, and obtained by the spoliation of the provinces. Such are the fruits of plunder and extortion. It was for this reason that M. Lollius was held so infamous all over the East for the presents which he extorted from the kings; the result of which was, that he was denied the friendship of Caius Caesar, and took poison; and all this was done, I say, that his grand-daughter might be seen, by the glare of the lamps, covered all over with jewels to the amount of forty millions of sesterces!" and from the north for the exchange of commodities. Here the Periplus has an important statement to make in respect of the capacity for navigation of the Tamils. In these ports that he mentions, he says were ships of two kinds, those intended for coasting voyages as far as Damirica as he calls it; these were small and large, and are called by him Sangara (Tarn, Sangadam). Those intended however, for the voyages to Chryse and to the Ganges were called, according to him, Colandia, and are described as very large. The term Chryse which in Greek is the equivalent of Gold, seems to refer to Suvarnabhumi in Sanskrit, and has been identified with the Malaya Peninsula, spoken of by the Periplus in another place as an island. That it indicates the region about the Malaya Peninsula is clear from what he says in regard to the direction of the land; "just opposite this (river Ganges) there is an island in the ocean the last port of the inhabited world to the east under the rising sun itself; it is called Chryse and it has the best tortoise-shell of all the places in the Erythraean sea." There are said to be imported into these ports everything that is made in Damirica "the greatest part of what is got from Egypt." Then he proceeds to mention Palaesimundu, "called by the ancients Taprobane." Further north from this, according to him, was the region Masalia, and further north of this Dosarene
(Sans. Dasarna). Ptolemy however interpolates between the Chola coast and Maisalia (Masalia of the Periplus) the country of the Aruvarnoi or Arvarnoi (the Aruvalar of the Tamils) whose country was known to the Tamils in two divisions Aruvanadu and Aruva Vada-talai (northern Aruva) which would take us more or less close to the mouth of the Krishna river, the Maisalos of Ptolemy.
Of the trade of this coast, the most important ports are the three referred to already, and the imports of trade are set down as "everything made in Damirica and the greatest part of what is brought at any time from Egypt comes here together with most kinds of all the things that are brought from Damirica and of those that are carried through Paralia."
We have similar reference to the imports at Kaveripatam in the Tamil work Pattinappalai: "horses were brought from distant lands beyond the seas, pepper was brought in ships, gold and precious stones came from the northern mountains, sandal, akir (aromatic aloe wood) came from the mountains towards the west, pearls from the southern seas and coral from the eastern seas; the produce of the regions watered by the Ganges; all that is grown on the banks of the Kaveri; articles of food from Ilam or Ceylon, and the manufactures of Kalakam in Sumatra."1 This looks like a restatement in a somewhat expanded form of what is found briefly stated in the Periplus.
1 Pattinappalai, II, 127 ff.