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Perumthachan (പെരുന്തച്ചന്), also spelled as "Perunthchan" (പെരു - Peru/big, തച്ചന് - thachan/craftsman), meaning the master carpenter or the master craftsman of vishwakarma community, is an honorific title that is used to refer to an ancient legendary carpenter (ആശാരി Achari/Acharya), architect, woodcarver and sculptor (stone/wood) from Kerala, India. However Perumthachan is an important figure in the folklore of Kerala and many a wondrous structure and architecture that still stand are attributed to him.
History and legend
Many legends of Perumthachan are seen in Aithihyamala, the compilation of legends and folklore of Kerala written by Kottarathil Sankunni. Given that Perumthachan was a Vishwakarma his parents must also have been Vishwakarma Brahmins (Carpenters called as Vishwa Brahmins). After their marriage, they set out on a long journey. Each of them grew famous in their lives and many tales and lores were attributed, with them as the main cast. The eldest was Agnihothri, a Brahmin, whose place is Mezhathur in Thrithala. The others are Perumthachan (Master carpenter), Naranath Bhranthan (an eccentric philosopher who was perceived as a madman), Vayillakunnilappan (a child with no mouth, whom the mother wanted to keep with her) and so on.
Since Raman (രാമന്) was raised by parents who belonged to the Vishwakarma ( Achary) caste, he mastered the art and science of carpentry, architecture, and sculpture to become a Perumthachan. He read the sacred texts and imbibed the ancient intellectual tradition. He was commissioned for many a great architectural project to build temples and palaces.
The esteemed architect and engineer of the famous Chola temple, the Brihadeeswarar Temple was Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Perunthachan as stated in inscriptions found at the temple. It has been said that this is same as Kunjaramallan Rama Perumthachan. His architectural style is evident in the temple sculptures.
Legend of Temple Pond
Perumthachan was once assigned to construct a temple pond. But it so happened that a dispute arose among three Karakkars (local residents) of the place as to the shape of the pond to be constructed. One group wanted a rectangular pond, another a square pond and the third, a circular shape. Perumthachan agreed to construct a pond which would satisfy all the three conflicting demands. When the pond was constructed, the Karakkars from each of the sides were immensely pleased to see their desired shape for the pond. It was so because the original shape of the pond was none of these three but a highly irregular shape, which could create an illusion and fool the onlooker from each side.
Influence on art and culture
The story of Perumthachan has been a source of artistic expression for various people. It has been the basis for a great Malayalam dramatic monologue poem of the same name by G. Sankara Kurup. The legend of Perumthachan was also depicted in a Malayalam cinema Perumthachan(Film) masterfully performed by the famous actor Thilakan. The movie script was written by M. T. Vasudevan Nair and directed by Ajayan (1990) and has won many prestigious accolades for its brilliant cinematography and direction.