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Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C

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Home > The Tamil Heritage - History & Geography > Tamil Militarism > Valari - An Unique Weapon of the Tamils

Tamil Militarism

Valari - An Unique Weapon of the Tamils
(contributed by Dr.S.Jayabarathi, Malaysia)

The ancient Tamils had used many types of weapons. Some of the weapons have travelled through all these ages and have come down to the present times. Although we know what they are, there are no more practitioners of the art of using those weapons - unlike the Chinese, who have redesigned and revived many of their ancient weapons and use them in their many types of martial arts. Just like our martial arts, our weapons are also becoming exhibition pieces.

There are some who would say, "kaththiyaith thiittaadhE. Buddhiyai thiittu". (But) We Tamils are not thiittifying anything. But the Chinese are advancing themselves in every field. Their involvement in martial arts and other arts have not made them backwards in other important pursuits.

There are some weapons which are unique to the Tamils. Among them are thirukkai vaal, vaLari, and suruL vaaL. Of these, the vaLari is a weapon which arouses our curiosity. It is a sort of boomerang. Boomerang is a weapon which is used by the Sons of the Soil of Australia and some tribes of Africa. Tamilnaadu is the only place apart from them.

The boomerang of the native Australians comes back to the thrower. But the Tamilian vaLari does not do so. VaLaris were available in many shapes and sizes. The usual form consists of two limbs which are at an angle to each other. Usually the limbs are flat. One is thin and tappering while the other is rounded. Some have one limb; the other limb is used as a handle. They were usually made of wood. But some were made of iron. Some the vaLaris had limbs which were tipped with iron. Some had limbs which had sharpened edges. These were very lethal. There were special daggers which were known as kattaaris. These were double-edged and razor sharp. They were attached to the limbs of the vaLari.

The thrower holds the vaLari by one of its limbs and throws it. There are several ways of throwing and aiming. It is usually given a spin while throwing. While flying through the air, it manuevers and executes several types of movements according to the throwers purpose. It may spin in the vertical axis or horizontal axis. Or it may just fly without spinning. The spin may also vary in speed. A lethal throw is given a spin and aimed at the neck.A non-lethal throw is given a spin and aimed at the ankles or knees. This is to capture a fleeing victim. A simple hurting blow does not have any spin.

VaLari was used in war, fights, and hunts. It was the favourite weapon of choice in a deer hunt. VaLari was a famous weapon in the KaLLar naadu and Sivaganggai Siimai - the present PudukkOttai, Sivaganggai, and parts of Madurai and Ramanathapuram districts.

There were competitions in vaLari throwing. It was the favourite weapon of great heroes of these territories. Among the most notable vaLari exponents are Periya Marudhu, Chinna Marudhu, the rulers of Sivaganggai and one of their generals, Vaithilingga ThoNdaimaan of Pattamanggalam.

The picture below shows Dr.A.V.Jeyachandrun holding a vaLari which was discovered in ThoNdi which is an ancient port pattinam of the ancient Pandyas.

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