Patiṟṟuppattu (Tamil: பதிற்றுப்பத்து, lit. Ten Tens) is a classical Tamil poetic work and one of the Eight Anthologies (Ettuthokai) in the Sangam literature.[1] It is a panegyric collection that exclusively contains puram (war, public life) category of Sangam poems. The Chera kings are the centre of this work and is refereed to as Cheramal. The invocatory poem is on Maayon or Mal (Vishnu).[5]

Book Extract Pathirrup pathu.gif
An extract from the Patirruppattu
AuthorMultiple poets of the post-Sangam era
Working titlePathitrupathu
LanguageOld Tamil
SeriesEight Anthologies anthology of the Eighteen Greater Texts series
SubjectPuram (public life)-genre[1]
Set inPost-Sangam era (between 2nd and 5th century CE)[2][3][4]
Topics in Sangam literature
Sangam literature
Agattiyam Tolkāppiyam
Eighteen Greater Texts
Eight Anthologies
Aiṅkurunūṟu Akanāṉūṟu
Puṟanāṉūṟu Kalittokai
Kuṟuntokai Natṟiṇai
Paripāṭal Patiṟṟuppattu
Ten Idylls
Tirumurukāṟṟuppaṭai Kuṟiñcippāṭṭu
Malaipaṭukaṭām Maturaikkāñci
Mullaippāṭṭu Neṭunalvāṭai
Paṭṭiṉappālai Perumpāṇāṟṟuppaṭai
Poruṇarāṟṟuppaṭai Ciṟupāṇāṟṟuppaṭai
Related topics
Sangam Sangam landscape
Tamil history from Sangam literature Ancient Tamil music
Eighteen Lesser Texts
Nālaṭiyār Nāṉmaṇikkaṭikai
Iṉṉā Nāṟpatu Iṉiyavai Nāṟpatu
Kār Nāṟpatu Kaḷavaḻi Nāṟpatu
Aintiṇai Aimpatu Tiṉaimoḻi Aimpatu
Aintinai Eḻupatu Tiṇaimālai Nūṟṟaimpatu
Tirukkuṟaḷ Tirikaṭukam
Ācārakkōvai Paḻamoḻi Nāṉūṟu
Ciṟupañcamūlam Mutumoḻikkānci
Elāti Kainnilai

The Patiṟṟuppattu, sometimes spelled Pathitrupathu,[6] originally contained ten sections of ten poems each dedicated to a decade of rule in ancient Kerala (Cerals, Chera), but the first and the last have been lost to history.[7][8] Of the surviving poems, the II-VI decade-related poems are about the three generations of rulers from the Imayavaramban dynasty. The remaining poems are about the three generations of rulers from the Irumporai dynasty.[7] In the palm-leaf manuscripts of the Patirruppattu, each decade ends with an epilogue in verse style called the patikam of later date, followed by a colophon in prose. Thereafter is a commentary written in or after 13th century CE, according to U. V. Swaminatha Iyer – the Tamil scholar who rediscovered Sangam manuscripts.[9]

The Patiṟṟuppattu poems were composed by several poets and a poetess, signifying the scholarly role accepted for women in ancient South India. The poems praise the rulers and heroes in the form of a hagiography, but the core seems to be based on real history.[7] They mention the Hindu deities Shiva, Murugan and Korravai (Uma, Durga), and their worship by warriors and the king.[10][11] The poems, the epilogues, and the colophons included in the manuscripts are also of significance to ancient culture and sociological studies. The poetry likely relies on older but unknown common oral tradition sources that are shared by Tamil epics of post-Sangam era.[7]

The Patirruppattu anthology states Kamil Zvelebil – a Tamil literature scholar, was likely composed over time, the early layer sometime between 2nd and 4th century CE, and the later layer sometime between 3rd and 5th century CE.[2][3][4] The poems and patikams of this collection have been of significant historical importance.[9] According to T. P. Meenakshisundaram (1949), the Patiṟṟuppattu is the "only available book of ancient Chera history".[12]


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 (Thookku) 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 patikams. 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.


The Patirruppattu poems are about ten decades of Chera kings. The second, third, fourth and the fifth ten of the work describe the Imayavaraman dynasty and the other three books, namely the sixth, seventh and the eighth ten deal with the Irumporai dynasty. These are called the Ceral, or Ceralar in the plural.[13]

Each decade has 10 poems, each poem has an average length of 21 lines with the entire decade averaging 211 lines. The shortest of the verses consists of five lines (v. 87) and the longest verse in the work comprises 57 lines (v. 90). The supplementary patikams at the end of each decade vary in length from 10 to 21 lines.[14] The poems include graphic details of war and violence.[15]


Each of the verses of the extant eight tens of Patirruppattu has at its end a composition known as a patikam. They offer supplementary information about the decade. These patikams were added to these tens at a later date, but before the time of medieval commentator Atiyarkkunallar, who wrote a commentary on Silappatikaram because he quotes from these patikams.[16]

First TenEdit

These poems have been lost.

Second TenEdit

These ten poems were written by Kumattur Kannan about the Cheral king Imayavaramban Nedun-Cheralatan.

Third TenEdit

Palyanai Sel Kelu Kuttuvan - "Puzhiyarkon" Palyani Sel Kelu Kuttuvan was the brother of Nedum Cheralathan and the hero of the third decade of the Pathitrupathu composed by Palai Gautamanar. He helped his brother in the conquests of northern Malabar. At least a part of northern Malabar came under the Chera rule in this period as is proven by the title "Puzhiyarkon" assumed by Palanai. In the later years of his life, Palyanai retired from military life and spent time in arts, letters, gifts and helping Brahmins.[17]

Fourth TenEdit

The poet Kappiyatru Kaapiyanaar composed these poems about the Chera prince, Narmudi Cheral. Narmudi won a series of victories over his enemies but was always generous to the defeated. In the battle of Vakaiperumturai Narmudi Cheral defeated and killed Nannan of Ezhimalai, annexing Puzhinadu.[17]

Kapiyanar received 4,000,000 gold coins for his composition.[17]

Fifth TenEdit

Paranar composed these ten poems about the Cheran king Ceṅkuṭṭuvan (Senguttuvan) and received prince Kuttuvan Ceral as 'present'.[18] According to Zvelebil, the Paranar poems are probably the best examples of the heroic genre in the entire collection.[9]

This section is notable for the dating of the earliest Tamil epic Silappatikaram. The fifth ten includes many details about Ceṅkuṭṭuvan's family and rule, but never mentions that he had a brother who became an ascetic or wrote one of the most cherished epics.[19] This has been one of the reasons to consider the legendary author Ilango Adikal to be a myth extrapolated later into the epic, and the ruling out that the epic was a part of the Sangam literature.[19][20]

Sixth TenEdit

Adu Kottu Pattu Cheralathan was a crown prince for a long 38 years and the hero of the 6th decad. He never ascended the Chera throne. He was a patron of trade and commerce, the letters and the arts. He is described as having given an entire village in Kuttanad to Brahmins.[21]

Seventh TenEdit

The famous poet Kapilar composed these poems about Cheran Celvakkadungo Vazhi Aathan.

Eighth TenEdit

Cheral king Perunceral Irumporai was the subject of these ten poems.

Ninth TenEdit

These poems were written about the Cheral king Perunceral Irumporai (possibly the brother of the king in the previous ten poems eulogised by Perunkunrurkizhar).

Tenth TenEdit

These poems have been lost.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Kamil Zvelebil 1973, pp. 51–52.
  2. ^ a b Kamil Zvelebil 1973, pp. 41–43 with Chart 4.
  3. ^ a b George Hart & Hank Heifetz 2001, pp. xv–xvi.
  4. ^ a b Kamil Zvelebil (1974). Tamil Literature. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 17–23 with footnotes. ISBN 978-3-447-01582-0.
  5. ^ George Hart; Hank Heifetz (1999). The Four Hundred Songs of War and Wisdom: An Anthology of Poems from Classical Tamil : the Purananuru. Columbia University Press. pp. xv–xvii. ISBN 978-0-231-11562-9.
  6. ^ Ca. Vē Cuppiramaṇiyan̲; K. M. Irulappan (1980). Heritage of the Tamils: Language and Grammar. International Institute of Tamil Studies. p. 457.
  7. ^ a b c d Kamil Zvelebil 1973, pp. 52–53.
  8. ^ Eva Maria Wilden (2014). Manuscript, Print and Memory: Relics of the Cankam in Tamilnadu. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 12 with footnote 26. ISBN 978-3-11-035276-4.
  9. ^ a b c Kamil Zvelebil (1974). Tamil Literature. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 17–18. ISBN 978-3-447-01582-0.
  10. ^ Kamil Zvelebil (1991). Tamil Traditions on Subrahmaṇya-Murugan. Institute of Asian Studies. pp. 80–86.
  11. ^ Ishita Banerjee-Dube; Saurabh Dube (2009). Ancient to modern: religion, power, and community in India. Oxford University Press. pp. 65–66. ISBN 978-0-19-569662-2.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ John Ralston Marr (1958), The Eight Anthologies, Institute of Asian Studies, Madras 600 041, SOAS University of London Thesis, pages 283–285
  14. ^ John Ralston Marr (1958), The Eight Anthologies, Institute of Asian Studies, Madras 600 041, SOAS University of London Thesis, pages 284–287
  15. ^ John Ralston Marr (1958), The Eight Anthologies, Institute of Asian Studies, Madras 600 041, SOAS University of London Thesis, pages 286–288
  16. ^ John Ralston Marr (1958), The Eight Anthologies, Institute of Asian Studies, Madras 600 041, SOAS University of London Thesis, pages 292–293
  17. ^ a b c Menon 2007, p. 69.
  18. ^ Kowmareeshwari (Ed.), S. (August 2012). Kurunthogai, Paripaadal, Kalitthogai. Sanga Ilakkiyam (in Tamil). 2 (1 ed.). Chennai: Saradha Pathippagam. p. 442.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  19. ^ a b Iḷaṅkōvaṭikaḷ; R Partaasarathy (2004). The Cilappatikāram: The Tale of an Anklet. Penguin Books. pp. 6–8. ISBN 978-0-14-303196-3.
  20. ^ Gananath Obeyesekere (1970). "Gajabahu and the Gajabahu Synchronism". The Ceylon Journal of the Humanities. University of Sri Lanka. 1: 44.
  21. ^ Menon 2007, p. 70.