Pattupattu (PathuPattu), also known as The Ten Idylls, is one of the earliest extant Tamil poetic literary works and is an anthology of ten mid-length books. The Pattupattu collection is considered as a part of the literature from the Sangam age
and dates back to a period between 300 BCE and 200 CE. In the late 19th century, the Pattupattu collection was found by U.V.Swaminatha Iyer who travelled around Tamil Nadu
to collect the ancient palm leaf manuscripts that was lost for several centuries. It is uncertain as to who created the collection or the exact date of its accumulation. Even though the name Pattupattu has been used for long to identify this collection of ancient Tamil poems, but it is still unknown if this was the intended title of the anthology when it was initially collected.
Contents of Pattupattu
The contents of the Pattupattu or PathuPattu anthology are mentioned below-
Aarruppatai Form in Pattupattu
The Pattupattu anthology has extensive and picturesque narrations of the Tamil land and its many seasons. Almost all of them are in the Aarruppatai form, which is a literary device used by which a rhymester or a minstrel who has been presented with ample gifts by some wealthy and generous patron. The poet guides other bards to the same route to gain bountiful gifts. As a result, this provides the occasion to the writer, among other themes, to explain in great details the natural scenic beauty, richness and resources of the region which has to be traveled in order to reach the palace of the generous patron.
The poems in the Pattupattu collection are in the form of travelogues and guidebooks and implement a more plausible and practical device than the Tamil poems of a later age that use inanimate materials such as the cloud and the breeze as messengers or the medium of poetic study. The Aarruppatai is from a section with Tamil pragmatism and narrates the journey as experienced by a human explorer and that on terra firma.
Themes of Nature in Pattupattu
Each of the Ten Idylls in Pattupattu anthology comprises of passages pertinent to the theme of nature. The first poem is on Lord Kartikeya
or Murugan and describes the natural beauty of places that are most adored by him, his immanent existence in nature and of the animals, trees and flowers that are sacred to him. Concise and fascinating narrations of the hill country, the breaking dawn and the setting in of dusk, fall of darkness in evening and the close life of the people with nature occur in Malaipatukatam and the renowned Kurincippattu by Kapilar.
The passages provide exceptional description of the North Wind and its effects and the interaction of human sentiments and emotions as established in Netunalvatai. It also explains the traditional regions of the Pandya
kingdoms which are drained by the Vaigai
rivers. The greatness of a ruler was also evaluated by the fecundity and the diversity of the territories within the kingdom of the sovereign. Thus narrations of the natural scenery in the region of a king often form an integral part of congratulatory and heroic poetry.