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Patiṉeṇmēlkaṇakku (Tamil: பதினெண்மேல்கணக்கு) is the collection of the oldest surviving Tamil poetry. This collection is considered part of the Sangam Literature and dated approximately between 100 BCE and 200 CE. Patiṉeṇmēlkaṇakku, the eighteen major anthology series, contains: Ettuthokai, the eight anthologies, and Pattupattu, the ten idyls. The songs in the Patiṉeṇmēlkaṇakku anthology are set in the Akaval style.
The Patiṉeṇmēlkaṇakku anthology contains 2,381 poems including the ten larger works belonging to the Pattupattu collection. These poems are attributed to 473 poets. Sixteen of the 473 poets are responsible for 1,177 of the 2,279 poems for which the name of the author is known. 102 of the poems are anonymous. Notably, the pathiRRuppathu collection exclusively collects poetry from the Cheral kings (from Kerala); whereas the other collections contain a mix of poetry patronized by diverse Tamil kings.
There is no information available on when these poems were collected or on the identity of the anthologist. These poems have passed through four stages of evolution. The poems were created by the bardic authors between 100 BCE and 200 CE. The poems were collected into the various anthologies; colophons were added and the poems classified into various thinais around the eighth century CE. Still later, the invocatory poems were added to the collection. Finally, around the tenth century CE commentaries were written. The whole process occurred over many centuries. As these poems have no internal safeguard to preserve them intact, they probably have gone through some changes over these centuries.
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