The Ten Idylls, known as Pattuppāṭṭu (Tamil: பத்துப்பாட்டு in the literature, is an anthology of ten mid-length books and is one of the oldest surviving works of Tamil poetry. This collection is considered part of Sangam Literature and is dated to c. 300 BCE – c. 200 CE. This collection had been lost for some centuries until U. V. Swaminatha Iyer travelled around Tamil Nadu in the late nineteenth century to collect ancient palm-leaf manuscripts. It is not known who made this collection or the exact date it was collected. Although the name Pattuppāṭṭu has been in use for very long, it is unknown whether this was the intended name of this anthology when it was first collected.
The Ten Idylls collection contains lengthy and picturesque descriptions of the Tamil country and its seasons. Most of them are in the form of Aatrupadai, a literary device by which a bard or a minstrel who has received bountiful gifts from some wealthy patron is supposed to direct another to the same Maecenas. This gives the occasion to the poet, among other topics, to describe in great detail the natural beauty, fertility, and resources of the territory that has to be traversed to reach the palace of the patron.
These poems which are in the nature of guide-books and travelogues adopt a more credible and realistic device than those Tamil poems of a later age which utilize inanimate objects like the cloud and the wind as messengers or the media of poetic observation. The Aarruppatai is of a piece with Tamil realism and describes the journey as experienced by a human traveller, and that on terra firma.
Themes of nature
Each of the Ten Idylls contains passages relevant to the theme of Nature. The first poem on the god, Murugan, contains descriptions of the natural beauty of spots most beloved by him, of his immanent presence in Nature, and of the flowers, trees and animals sacred to him. Minute and interesting descriptions of the hill country (Kurincippattu).
Few passages can rival the description of the North Wind and its effects, and the interplay of human emotions and sentiments as found in Netunalvatai. The conventional regions of the Chola and Pandya kingdoms, the Kaveri and Vaigai which water them.
The greatness of a sovereign was assessed also by the fertility and the diversity of regions found within his kingdom.
Contents of the anthology
- Pattupattu - Ten Tamil Idylls, J. V. Chellaih, Tamil University, Thanjavur, 1946.
- Ancient Tamil Classic Pattuppattu in English (The Ten Tamil Idylls), A. Dakshinamurthy, Thamizh Academy, SRM Institute of Science and Technology, 2013.
- Mudaliyar, Singaravelu A., Apithana Cintamani, An encyclopaedia of Tamil Literature, (1931) - Reprinted by Asian Educational Services, New Delhi (1983)
- Xavier S. Thaninayagam, (1966) Ancient Tamil Literature from the Introduction to Landscape and Poetry
- பத்துப்பாட்டு, the Ten Idylls
- Chelliah J.V., Pattupattu - Ten Tamil Idylls (Tamil Verses with Englilsh Translation), 1946, - Tamil University Reprint, Thanjavur, (1985)
- Dr. A. Dakshinamurthy, Ancient Tamil Classic Pattuppattu in English(The Ten Tamil Idylls), Dr. A. Dakshinamurthy, Thamizh Academy, SRM University, 2013.