- Indian copper plate inscriptions
Indian copper plate inscriptions play an important role in the reconstruction of the history of
India. Prior to their discovery, historians were forced to rely on ambiguous archaeological findings such as religious text of uncertain origin and interpretations of bits of surviving traditions, patched together with travel journals of foreign visitors along with a few stone inscriptions. The discovery of Indian copper plate inscriptions provided a relative abundance of new evidence for use in evolving a chronicle of India's elusive history.
Indian copper plate inscriptions ("tamarashasana"), usually record grants of land or lists of royal lineages carrying the royal seal, a profusion of which have been found in South India. Originally inscriptions were recorded on palm leaves, but when the records were legal documents such as title-deeds they were etched on a cave or temple wall, or more commonly, on copper plates which were then secreted in a safe place such as within the walls or foundation of a temple, or hidden in stone caches in fields. Plates could be used more than once, as when a canceled grant was over-struck with a new inscription. These records were probably in use from the first millennium. The earliest authenticated plates were issued by the
Pallavadynasty kings in the 4th century A.D. and are in Prakritalthough later Sanskritwas used. An example of early Sanskrit inscription in which Kannada words are used to describe land boundaries, are the Tumbula inscriptions of Western Ganga Dynasty, which have been dated to 444 CE according to a 2004 Indian newspaper report.cite web |title=Ancient inscriptions unearthed |url=http://www.hindu.com/2004/01/24/stories/2004012407180300.htm |author=N. Havalaiah|publisher=The Hindu |work=The Hindu, Saturday, Jan 24, 2004 |accessdate=2006-11-25] Rare copper plates from the Gupta period have been found in North India. The use of copper plate inscriptions increased and for several centuries they remained the primary source of legal records.cite book
title =India: A History
publisher =Grove Press
location =New York
pages = pp 155-157
id = ISBN 0802137970 ]
Most copper plate inscriptions record title-deeds of land-grants made to Brahmanas, individually or collectively. The inscriptions followed a standard formula of identifying the royal donor and his lineage, followed by lengthy honorifics of his history, heroic deeds, and his extraordinary personal traits. After this would follow the details of the grant, including the occasion, the recipient, and the penalties involved if the provisions were disregarded or violated. Although the profusion of complimentary language can be misleading, the discovery of copper plate inscriptions have provided a wealth of material for historians [cite web
title=Nature and Importance of Indian Epigraphy
*Dr. Romila Thapar, The Penguin History of Early India, From Origin to 1300 AD., 2003, Penguin, New Delhi, ISBN 0-14-302989-4
* [http://www.rootsweb.com/~lkawgw/codaganga.htm A new facet of our history buried with the copper plate of codaganga]
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