Subject: tirumeykāppār / vēḷaikkārar royal bodyguard
Setting: Chola empire, south India 10-12thc
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* Veluthat 2009 p321
"'Details of this institution [vēḷevāḷi] strike us with its close resemblance with the institution of vēḷaikkārar in Tamil records. The vēḷaikkārar were personal bodyguards of a chieftain who banded themselves to protect their master both in the battlefield and outside it, and to die along with him in case of his death'. Professor Mahalingam rightly surmised that to the same group belonged the Tennavan Āpattudavigaḷ figuring in Pāṇḍyan records, who were 'helpers of the Pāṇḍya (king) in times of distress'. They are referred to in Cōḷa records as tirumeykāppār. Abu Zaid describes such bodyguards gathered around the person of the king as his 'Companions of Honour' and Marco Polo finds in these 'Barons' the 'King's Trusty lieges'. The balaudjers referred to in the Arab Book of Marvels of India correspond to them in every detail and one is tempted to identify the term balaudjer as the corruption of Kannada vēḷevaḍicar."
* Dehejia 2002 p223
"Jewelry continued to hold a position of prime importance during the Chola period. While Chola jewelry has not survived as corroborative evidence, even a cursory examination of a temple bronze reveals both the character and the importance accorded to jeweled ornamentation. In his wax image, the sculptor painstakingly delineated elaborate jeweled crowns, headbands, earrings, necklaces, armlets, bracelets, girdles, anklets, and rings for both fingers and toes. By its very nature, the lost-wax process reproduced these details exactly in the resulting bronze image ...."
* Elgood 2004 f8.6
"Swords with a broadened spear point can be seen in sixth- to seventh-century sculpture at Ajanta; a shorter blade of this form can be seen in Hoysala eleventh- to thirteenth-century sculpture. This type of blade continues in general use until the sixteenth century, when it appears in the Codice Casanatense and elsewhere. The presumption must be that it dates from the late medieval period. This form has been classified as 'temple sword' but none of these short swords have a ritual function and they are battle swords, known in Kerala as vāl or cūrika. The sword is portrayed in the hands of the warrior-hunter god Ayyappan in seventeenth century wall painting in the Padmanābhapuram Palace, Kerala. However, the rest of his appurtenances date from rather earlier and the sword, too, must be seen likewise and as specific to the god, following a medieval canonical style. The pommel shown in the mural is the same as that on the swords of the eleventh-century Chola guardians (dvarapalas) at the Brhadīsvara Temple, Tanjore. Hilt forms in general, particularly the quillons, provide slightly greater indication of date than the blade."
* Elgood 2004 p