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Classical Tamil literature
Classical Tamil literature is usually brought under a twofold classification, namely, Eighteen Major Works (Tamil: பதினெட்டு மேற் கணக்கு நூல்கள்} and Eighteen Minor Works (Tamil: பதினெட்டு கீழ்க் கணக்கு நூல்கள்}. In the former do we have the Ten Long poems (Tamil: பத்துப்பாட்டு} and in the latter are the Eight Anthologies (Tamil: எட்டுத் தொகை நூல்கள்}.It is the fourth book in the Ettutokai, an anthology of Sangam literature.
Patiṟṟuppattu is one of the works of the Eight Anthologies. 'It is', according to T.P. Meenakshisundaram (1949), the 'only available book of ancient Cera history. Among all the Sangam works this is unique in being a collection of the poems on cerals.'.
Patiṟṟuppattu (Tamil: பதிற்றுப் பத்து) is a classical Tamil poetic work. The name Pathiṟṟuppattu means 'ten tens'or 'Ten Decads' or 'Tenfold Ten', referring to the ten sets of ten poems the book contains. The first and the last ten poems have been lost beyond recovery. The poems extol the richness of the Cheral dynasty, the historic kings of Kerala.
The Theme of Patiṟṟuppattu
The book deals with the descendents of Utiyan ceral and those of Antuvan Ceral Irumporai. The descendents of the former were ruling from Vanji which is now recognized Karuvur  and those of the latter were ruling from Tondi, a seaport on the western coast. The poems describe the valor of the king and his warriors, the munificence of the ceral monarchs, the bravery of enemy kings and their warriors,the queen, the singers and the dancers who entertain the monarch,the description of the flora and fauna, the sea,the hills and fountains, the rivers and the forests found in their countries etc.
This work speaks about ten kings of the Ceral dynasty. The second, third, fourth and the fifth ten of the work describe the descendants of Utiyan Ceral and the other three books, namely the sixth,seventh and the eight ten deal with the lineage of Antuvan Ceral Irumporai.The first ten, one that is lost, probably could have dealt with Utiyan Ceral who was succeeded by his two sons, namely, Imayavarmban Netunceralatan and Pal yanai celkezhu Kuttuvan. The former had two wives namely Chozan Manakkilli's daughter, the mother of Katal Pirakkottiya Cenkuttuvan,the hero of the fifth ten and Velavikkoman's daughter, the mother of Kalankaykanni Narmuticceral, the hero of the fourth ten and Atukotpattucceralatan, the hero of the sixth ten. The seventh, eighth and ninth ten deal with the son, grand son and great grandson respectively of the Antuvan ceralirumporai, the king of the second lineage.
There are 1697 lines in this work. The average length of the eight extant tens is 212 lines. The eighth ten, the shortest among the decades, consists of 179 lines. The longest among the eight decade poems comprises 236 lines. The shortest of the verses consists of five lines and the longest verse in the work comprises 57 lines. The last verse of the ninth ten is the longest of all the verses in this work. The patikams (the preface or introduction or prologue) vary in length from 10 to 21 lines.
The Structure of Each Verse of Patiṟṟuppattu
The ten verses in each of the eight tens now available have a common structure. Each verse has a title or caption. This title is a catchy phrase found in the text of the verse. The text of the verse follows the caption or title. What follows at the end of each verse is the information about the poetic theme that is referred to under the Tamil term துறை (turai), rhythm referred to using the Tamil word வண்ணம் [vannam], [metre] referred to as தூக்கு[tuukku]and the name of the verse referred to as பெயர் [peyar].This type of information is rarely found in other works of classical Tamil literature.There is also an epilogue at the end of each of the ten verses known as [patikam] These details about the theme,rhythm, metre, name and the epilogues are added by the composers of patikams at a later date which is earlier than the date of the commentaries as the commentators have given annotations to the patikams in addition to the verses.
Each of the verses of the extant eight tens of Patirruppattu has at its end a composition known as Patikam. These patikams were added to these tens, approximately one thousand years after the composition of the tens. The first part of these patikams is in verse while the second part in prose colophon. The patikams contain useful information such as the parentage of the king on whose valor, munificence etc. the tens dwell on and information like the tenure or the period of reign of the king, the gifts received by the composer of the verses etc. As these patikams contain information not found in the verses of the tens,it is evident that they were made and added at a later period.Further the stone inscriptions or engravings depicting the genealogy and achievements of Chola kings were made under the influence of the Patirruppattu Patikams. T V Sadasiva Pandaratthaar in an article entitled Patiṟṟuppattu and its Patikams makes a reference to the fact that the stone or copper inscriptions made by the Cholas had the influence of Patirruppattu Patikams. Even though the Patikams were additions to the tens, they are presented at the beginning of the tens in certain editions of patṟṟuppattu as they present useful information which would serve as introduction to the verses of the ten concerned. As commentators like Naccinarkkiniyar and Atiyaarkku Nallar quote from these patikamsin their commentaries relating to other classical Tamil literary works, the patikams belong to a period which is earlier than the time of the commentators.
These poems have been lost.The hero of the ten poems of this ten could have been Utiyan Ceral.
These ten poems were written by Kumattur Kannan about the Cheral king Imayavaramban Nedunceralaathan. As a reward for writing the poems, the author received the revenue rights from an area of crown land for a period of thirty-eight years.
Paalai Kauthamanaar (Gautham who sang of the desert) composed these ten poems about Celkezhukkuttuvan. According to the annotations i.e. the patikam to the poem, the king offered the poet anything he wanted as a reward for his compositions. The poet, a Brahman, requested the king to arrange for the conduct of sacrifices which would ensure a safe passage to heaven for him and his wife. The king conducted a series of ten Vedic sacrifices. At the successful completion of the tenth sacrifice the poet and his wife disappeared giving the impression that they have reached heaven.
The poet Kappiyatru Kaapiyanaar composed these poems about the king Nanmudi Cheral and 'received 40,000 gold coins and a part of his kingdom'.
Paranar composed these ten poems about the Cheral king Cenguttuvan and 'received the prince Kuttuvan Ceral'.
King Aadukotpattu Ceralathan rewarded the poet Kakkaipatiniyar Nacchellayar for these poems with gold and land and made her his court poet.
The famous poet Kapilar composed these poems about Cheran Celvakkadungo Vazhi Aathan. The king presented the poet with a town named 'Sirupuram' and gave him all the land the poet could see from the top of a hill.
Cheral king Perunceral Irumporai was the subject of these ten poems. Poet Arasikizhar received 'much land and the administrative rights of a number of temples' in exchange for his compositions.
These poems were written about the Cheral king Perunceral Irumporai (possibly the brother of the king in the previous ten poems eulogised by Perunkunrurkizhar).
These poems have been lost.
- In his introduction (PP 5-8) to the Patiṟṟppattu edition published by Saiva Siddhantha Nurpathippukkazhagam, with Auvai Duraisamy Pillai's annotations and Commentary, first published in 1949, Chennai
- Vanjimanakar by R. Rakava Iyengar, Chellappa Pathippakam, Madurai -1
- There was yet another town with the same name belonging to the Cholas that was located in the Ramanathapuram District on the Eastern coast
- John Ralston Marr, The Eight Anthologies, Institute of Asian Studies, Madras 600 041, 1985
- There is a separate section in this article on patikam
- According to Tamil Lexicon page 2473 the term patikam means Preface, Introduction,Foreword, பாயிரம் [paayiram]Which means History and Preface what usually precedes a written document or work
- The first of such stone inscription made was during the reign of Rajaraja Chola in the year 993 AD and it was modelled on the patikams of Patiṟṟppattu
- Auvai Duraisamy Pillai's edition (p. 45) of Patirruppattu brought out by the Saiva Siddhatha Nurpatippukkazhakam,1950
- Mudaliyar, Singaravelu A., Apithana Cintamani, An encyclopaedia of Tamil Literature, (1931) - Reprinted by Asian Educational Services, New Delhi (1983)