Most Vellala subcastes share broadly similar origin myths that stress their links with the soil as agriculturists (as contrasted with artisans), their origin in the Ganga (Gangetic Valley) and migration from northern to southern India during the distant past, and their close relationship with the three ancient Tamil dynasties—Chera, Chola, and Pandya—in spite of the Vellalas' ineligibility for kingship. There is fairly strong literary and archeological evidence linking core Vellala subcastes with a group of chieftains called velir; the earliest references are found in the Sangam literature (first to third century A . D .). Until about the fourteenth century A . D ., the velir were prominent in the Tamil polity, economy, and society, and they have been linked with virtually all the major ruling dynasties. They were autonomous and collectively wielded significant political influence. Although ineligible to be crowned as kings, they were bride givers to the three "crowned" kings. They were active militarily but also had a strong base as landholders of fertile, paddy-growing tracts. They were celebrated for their large and lavish charities and for their patronage of literature and poetry. In the post-Sangam period, velir autonomy decreased, although they continued as feudatories, with key civic and military positions. Their position as a landed elite with military and administrative power continued through the subsequent periods—the Nayak, the Nawab of Arcot, and the British. The Vellala served as revenue officers, temple trustees and managers, magistrates, administrative agents, rentiers, village chiefs, and village accountants. The literary sources on the Vellala make a distinction between those "who eat by plowing the land" and those "who eat by getting the land plowed (through others)." Even now, this distinction serves as an index of internal hierarchical differentiation.