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Sangam literature
Akattiyam Tholkāppiyam
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 Tiṉaimalai Nūṟṟu Aimpatu
Tirukkuṛaḷ Tirikaṭukam
Ācārakkōvai Paḻamoḻi Nāṉūṟu
Ciṟupañcamūlam Mutumoḻikkānci
Elāti Kainnilai

The Ten Idylls, known as Pattuppāṭṭu (Tamil: பத்துப்பாட்டு) or Ten Lays, is an anthology of ten longer poems in the Sangam literature – the earliest known Tamil literature.[1][2] They range between about 100 and 800 lines, and the collection includes the celebrated Nakkīrar's Tirumurukāṟṟuppaṭai (lit. "Guide to Lord Murukan").[1] The collection was termed as "Ten Idylls" during the colonial era, though this title is considered "very incorrect" by Kamil Zvelebil – a scholar of Tamil literature and history. He suggests "Ten Lays" as the more apt title.[3] Five of these ten ancient poems are lyrical, narrative bardic guides (arruppatai) by which poets directed other bards to the patrons of arts such as kings and chieftains.[4] The others are guides to religious devotion (Murugan) and to major towns, sometimes mixed with akam- or puram-genre poetry.[1][4]

The Pattuppāṭṭu collection is a later dated collection, with its earliest layer composed sometime between 2nd- and 3rd-century CE, the middle between 2nd- and 4th-century, while the last layer sometime between 3rd- and 5th-century CE.[5]

The CollectionEdit

Accoring to Zvelebil, the Pattuppāṭṭu compilation is as follows:[6]

Ten Lays or Ten Idylls[6]
Poem Poem title's meaning Author Dedication / Focus Lines in poems Meter
Tirumurukāṟṟuppaṭai "Guide to Lord Murugan" Nakkīrar Murugan 312 akaval
Poruṇarāṟṟuppaṭai "Guide for the war bards" Mutattamakkanniyar Karikal 248 akaval, some vanci
Ciṟupāṇāṟṟuppaṭai "Guide to bards with small lutes" Narrattanar Nalliyakkotan 296 akaval
Perumpāṇāṟṟuppaṭai "Guide to bards with large lutes" Uruttiran Kannanar Tontaiman Ilantiraiyan 500 akaval
Mullaippāṭṭu "Song about the forest (life)" Nappitanar anonymous 103 akaval
Maturaikkāñci "Reflection on Maturai" Mankuti Marutanar Netunceliyan 782 vanci, some akaval
Neṭunalvāṭai "Good long northern wind" Nakkirar Netunceliyan 188 akaval
Kuṟiñcippāṭṭu "Song about the hills" Kapilar anonymous 261 akaval
Paṭṭiṉappālai "Poem about the separation and the city" Uruttiran Kannanar Karikal 301 vanci (153), akaval (138)
Malaipaṭukaṭām "Poem of the sound pertaining to the mountains" Perunkunrur, Perunkaucikanar Nannan 583[note 1] akaval


Two Shiva Hindu temple inscriptions have been discovered in Tamil Nadu which allude to and quote lines from the Pattuppāṭṭu collection.[11] The first found in one of the inscriptions at Veerateeswarar temple is dated 1012 CE and attributed to Rajaraja I. The inscription is in the form of an Pattuppāṭṭu arruppatai in the same meter as those found in Pattuppāṭṭu, and alludes to the poet Kapilar.[11] The second inscription is found in Rishabeshwarar temple in Chengam. Its author and patron are unknown, but palaeographically from the 12th-century Chola period. The inscription quotes lines from this collection and mentions the title Mali-katam-pattu (an anagram of Malaipaṭukaṭām). These inscription show that the collection of these poems were an integral part of the Shaiva tradition literature and revered in the context of their temples.[11][12]


UV Swaminatha Aiyar rediscovered the palm-leaf manuscripts of the Pattuppāṭṭu along with other Sangam literature in Shaiva monasteries during the late 19th-century.[13][14] The Ten Idylls were published in 1889. Over time, additional manuscripts – suggesting some early rediscoveries were partially damaged and incomplete – were discovered in temples, monasteries and private collections in India. Eva Wilden has compiled and published a catalog of important manuscripts of Pattuppāṭṭu preserved in major libraries.[15]


  • Pattupattu – Ten Tamil Idylls by J. V. Chellaih (1946)
  • Ancient Tamil Classic Pattuppattu in English (The Ten Tamil Idylls) by A. Dakshinamurthy (2013)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Zvelebil states it has 583 lines.[7][8] Other scholars such as Fred Clothey state that the Malaipaṭukaṭām has many more lines.[9] According to Chellaih, the poem has 763 lines.[10]


  1. ^ a b c W. J. Johnson (2009). A Dictionary of Hinduism. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19861-0250.
  2. ^ Kamil Zvelebil 1973, pp. 28–29.
  3. ^ Kamil Zvelebil 1973, pp. 28–29, 56.
  4. ^ a b Kamil Zvelebil 1973, pp. 56–58.
  5. ^ Kamil Zvelebil 1973, pp. 41–43 with Chart 4.
  6. ^ a b Kamil Zvelebil 1973, pp. 29, 63.
  7. ^ Kamil Zvelebil 1973, p. 59.
  8. ^ JV Chelliah 1946, pp. 283–284.
  9. ^ Fred W. Clothey (2019). The Many Faces of Murukan: The History and Meaning of a South Indian God. With the Poem Prayers to Lord Murukan. Walter De Gruyter. p. 34. ISBN 978-3-11-080410-2.
  10. ^ JV Chelliah 1946, pp. 325.
  11. ^ a b c Eva Maria Wilden (2014). Manuscript, Print and Memory: Relics of the Cankam in Tamilnadu. Walter De Gruyter. pp. 15–16 with footnote 39. ISBN 978-3-11-035276-4.
  12. ^ R Nagaswamy (2004). Jean-Luc Chevillard; Eva Wilden (eds.). South-Indian Horizons, Felicitation Volume for François Gros. IFP-EFEO. pp. 487–494. ISBN 2-85539-630-1.
  13. ^ Takanobu Takahashi (1995). Tamil Love Poetry and Poetics. BRILL Academic. pp. 1–3 with footnotes. ISBN 90-04-10042-3.
  14. ^ Kamil Zvelebil (1975). Jan Gonda (ed.). Handbook of Oriental Studies: Tamil Literature. BRILL Academic. pp. 108–109 with footnote 129. ISBN 90-04-04190-7.
  15. ^ Eva Maria Wilden (2014). Manuscript, Print and Memory: Relics of the Cankam in Tamilnadu. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 74–87, 90–93. ISBN 978-3-11-035276-4.