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Tamil people : ウィキペディア英語版

The Tamils (, or ), also known as the Tamilans, are a Dravidian ethnic group who speak Tamil as their mother tongue and native to Indian State of Tamil Nadu, Union territory of Puducherry, Northern and Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. Tamil people with a population of about 77 million living around the world are one of the largest and oldest of the existing ethno-linguistic cultural groups of people in the modern world to exist without a state of their own. Tamils comprise 24.87% of the population in Sri Lanka, 5.91% in India, 5.83% in Mauritius, 5% of the population in Singapore and 5.7% of the population in Malaysia.
Thousands of years ago, urbanisation and mercantile activity along the western and eastern coast of what is today Kerala and Tamil Nadu led to the development of four large Tamil political states Chera dynasty, Chola dynasty, Pandyan Dynasty and Pallava dynasty and a number of smaller states warring amongst themselves for dominance. Among languages spoken today, the Tamil language is the oldest written language among Indian languages.〔Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: Sasay to Zorgot by Mohan Lal p.4284〕 Between the 3rd century BC and the 3rd century AD, Tamil people produced native literature that came to be called Sangam literature.
Tamils were noted for their martial, religious and mercantile activities beyond their native borders. Pandyas and Cholas were historically active in Sri Lanka. The Chola dynasty successfully invaded parts of Southeast Asia like Malaysia, Southern Thailand and Indonesia.〔Nagapattinam to Suvarnadwipa: Reflections on the Chola Naval Expeditions to Southeast Asia by Hermann Kulke,K Kesavapany,Vijay Sakhuja p.79〕 Medieval Tamil guilds and trading organizations like the "Ayyavole and Manigramam" played an important role in the Southeast Asia trade.〔The Emporium of the World: Maritime Quanzhou, 1000–1400 by Angela Schottenhammer p.293〕 Pallava traders and religious leaders travelled to Southeast Asia and played an important role in the cultural Indianisation of the region. Locally developed scripts such as Grantha and Pallava script induced the development of many native scripts such as Khmer, Javanese Kawi script, Baybayin, and Thai.
Tamil visual art is dominated by stylised Temple architecture in major centres and the productions of images of deities in stone and bronze. Chola bronzes, especially the Nataraja sculpture of the Chola period, have become notable as a symbol of Hinduism. Tamil performing arts are divided into popular and classical. Classical form is Bharatanatyam, whereas the popular forms are known as Kuthus and performed in village temples and on street corners. Tamil cinema, known as Kollywood, is an important part of the Indian cinema industry. Music too is divided into classical Carnatic form and many popular genres.
Although most Tamils are Hindus, most practice what is considered to be folk Hinduism, venerating a plethora of village deities. A sizeable number are Christians and Muslims. A small Jain community survives from the classical period as well. Tamil cuisine is informed by varied vegetarian and non-vegetarian items usually spiced with locally available spices. The music, the temple architecture and the stylised sculptures favoured by the Tamil people as in their ancient nation are still being learnt and practised. English historian and broadcaster Michael Wood called the Tamils the last surviving classical civilisation on Earth, because the Tamil mainstream preserved substantial elements of their past regarding belief, culture, music and literature despite the modern globalised world.

It is unknown as to whether the term ''Thamizhar'' and its equivalents in Prakrit such as ''Damela'', ''Dameda'', ''Dhamila'' and ''Damila'' was a self designation or a term denoted by outsiders. Epigraphic evidence of an ethnic group termed as such is found in ancient Sri Lanka where a number of inscriptions have come to light datable from the 6th to the 5th century BC mentioning ''Damela'' or ''Dameda'' persons. In the well-known Hathigumpha inscription of the Kalinga ruler Kharavela, refers to a ''T(ra)mira samghata'' (Confederacy of Tamil rulers) dated to 150 BC. It also mentions that the league of Tamil kingdoms had been in existence 113 years before then.〔 In Amaravati in present-day Andhra Pradesh there is an inscription referring to a ''Dhamila-vaniya'' (Tamil trader) datable to the 3rd century AD.〔 Another inscription of about the same time in Nagarjunakonda seems to refer to a ''Damila''. A third inscription in Kanheri Caves refers to a ''Dhamila-gharini'' (Tamil house-holder). In the Buddhist Jataka story known as ''Akiti Jataka'' there is a mention to ''Damila-rattha'' (Tamil dynasty). There were trade relationship between the Roman Empire and Pandyan Empire. As recorded by Strabo, Emperor Augustus of Rome received at Antioch an ambassador from a king called ''Pandyan of Dramira''.〔The cyclopædia of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia By Edward Balfour〕 Hence, it is clear that by at least the 300 BC, the ethnic identity of Tamils has been formed as a distinct group.〔Indrapala, K ''The Evolution of an ethnic identity: The Tamils of Sri Lanka'', p. 155–156〕 ''Thamizhar'' is etymologically related to Tamil, the language spoken by Tamil people. Southworth suggests that the name comes from tam-miz > tam-iz 'self-speak', or 'one's own speech'. Zvelebil suggests an etymology of ''tam-iz'', with tam meaning "self" or "one's self", and "-iz" having the connotation of "unfolding sound". Alternatively, he suggests a derivation of ''tamiz'' < ''tam-iz'' < ''
*tav-iz'' < ''
*tak-iz'', meaning in origin "the proper process (of speaking)."〔 at pp. x–xvi.〕 Another theory say the term ''Thamizhar'' was derived from the name of the ancient people ''Dravida'' > ''Dramila'' > ''Damila'' > ''Tamila'' > ''Tamilar''〔Gustav Salomon Oppert, ''On the Original Inhabitants of Bharatavarsa Or India: The Dravidians'', p 41〕

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