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Manipravalam (IAST: Maṇipravāḷam, മണിപ്രവാളം) is a macaronic language found in some manuscripts of South India. It is a hybrid language, typically written in the Grantha script, which combines Sanskrit lexicon and Tamil morpho-syntax.[1][2][3] According to language scholars Giovanni Ciotti and Marco Franceschini, the blending of Tamil and Sanskrit is evidenced in manuscripts and their colophons over a long period of time, and this ultimately may have contributed to the emergence of Manipravalam.[4]

Mani-pravalam literally means ruby-coral,[5] and it likely played a role in the emergence of the Malayalam language and script from Tamil-Brahmi, Tamil and Sanskrit. The Kerala scholars distinguished Manipravalam from Pattu, the former being significantly influenced by Sanskrit and later predominantly Tamil.[6] Manipravalam has been used for poetry manuscripts that combine Malayalam and Sanskrit, as well as South Indian works on eroticism. The 14th-century Lilatilakakara text states Manipravalam to be a bhasya (language) where "Malayalam and Sanskrit should combine together like ruby and coral, without the least trace of any discord".[6][7]

Dramatic performances given in Koothambalams, known by the names of Koothu and Koodiyattam, often used Sanskrit and Tamil.[citation needed] The language of Kramadeepikas and Attaprakarams, which lay down the rules and regulations for these dramatic performances, is considerably influenced by the composite literary dialect of Manipravalam.[citation needed] Various hagiographies on the life of the Vaishnava saint Ramanuja were in manipravalam.[citation needed]

Effect on the history of the Malayalam script[edit]

It is suggested that the advent of the Manipravalam style, where letters of the Grantha script coexisted with the traditional Vatteluttu letters, made it easier for people in Kerala to accept a Grantha-based script Ārya eḻuttŭ, and paved the way for the introduction of the new writing system.[8] Eventually Vaṭṭeḻuttŭ was almost completely supplanted by 'the modern Malayalam script.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Giovanni Ciotti; Hang Lin (2016). Tracing Manuscripts in Time and Space through Paratexts. Walter De Gruyter. pp. 62–63. ISBN 978-3-11-047901-0.
  2. ^ Blackburn, Stuart (2006). Print, folklore, and nationalism in colonial South India. New York, Springer. p. 29. After about AD 1500, translations from Sanskrit did appear, and unassimilated words began to flood literary Tamil; eventually a hybrid idiom (manipravalam) mixing Sanskrit and Tamil words, and Sanskrit words with Tamil inflections, was devised
  3. ^ The Illustrated weekly of India, (1965). Volume 86. Bennett, Coleman & Co., Ltd. pp. 35-37
  4. ^ Giovanni Ciotti; Hang Lin (2016). Tracing Manuscripts in Time and Space through Paratexts. Walter De Gruyter. pp. 62–68. ISBN 978-3-11-047901-0.
  5. ^ "Sanskrit Dictionary for Spoken Sanskrit". Retrieved 2019-04-09.
  6. ^ a b Sheldon Pollock; Arvind Raghunathan (19 May 2003). Literary Cultures in History: Reconstructions from South Asia. University of California Press. pp. 449, 455–472. ISBN 978-0-520-22821-4.
  7. ^ Ke Rāmacandr̲an Nāyar (1971). Early Manipravalam: a study. Anjali. Foreign Language Study. pp. 78
  8. ^ "Alphabets". Government of Kerala. Archived from the original on 2009-11-09. Retrieved 2009-10-31.

Further reading[edit]

  • Malayalam - From God's Own Country, Bhasha Ind