Kalittokai is a classical poetic work of Tamil literature
and is also the 6th book in Ettuttokai
or the Eight Anthologies from the Sangam age
. It comprises of 150 poems and was composed by several poets and writers. Kalittokai was annotated by a Tamil scholar named Nachinarkiniyar, who lived during 7th century C.E. Kalittokai is a collection of 150 verses composed in the Kali metre in various length which deal with different aspects and phases of love and human emotions. The poems are segmented into 5 thinais based on the subject matter and feel compliant to the Sangam landscape.
Contents of Kalittokai
The initial part (2-36) refers to Paalai setting, the 2nd part (37-65) deals with Kurinchi, the 3rd part (66-100) deals with Marutam, the 4th part (101-117) deals with Mullai and the 5th part (118-150) deals with Neital. These 5 segments were each composed by different poets. The poet Perunkadunkon is attributed to the Paalai songs, Kapilar wrote the Kurinchi, Ilanaagan wrote the Marutham songs, Nalluruthiran wrote the Mullai songs and the poet Nallanthuvan wrote the Neithal songs.
Kalittokai is also considered to be a work of the later period as the style and usage of words are not similar to other Sangam literatures. The compiler of the Kalittokai is unknown and the contemporary scholars` believe that the poetic work was composed by an individual author. The book of annotations for Kalittokai was constructed by Nachinarkiniyaar in the mid 15th century and states that Nallanthuvanaar assembled the Kalittokai anthology. The poems of Kalittokai reveal the ancient music of the people of the Tamil land with its musical phrases.
The love poems in the Kalittokai anthology, which is the 6th book in Ettuttokai or the Eight Anthologies from the Sangam period, are renowned for word pictures and rhythm. Talieai which is a component part of Kalittokai poems is derived from the yore folk music. It fascinates the intellect by its faultless rhythm and by the idea of the emotion expressed thrice in a specific metre.
After the Sangam period, the form found in Kalittokai, along with Paripaatal, lost its significance, with the development of Viruttam form which was a new metre in poems of Tamil literature.