(Last Updated on : 22-07-2009)
The literal meaning of Kuttanuf is 'theatre book'. This is Tamil treatise on dance, music, and performance, which is important in reconstructing ancient Tamil theatre. Most often, only references to the titles of such texts appear in commentaries, and the originals are lost. Even when ancient Tamil texts were available, they remained in palm-leaf manuscripts, transcribed and edited as late as the twentieth century. Kuttanul is one such, discovered by S. D. Suddananda Yogiyar. Although he said he found the complete text, he could edit and publish only two sections, in 1968. Ascribed to Sattanar, it can be dated before the tenth century. But Sattanar is a common name for poets and scholars. The treatise contains nine sections. Cuvai i.e. the book of aesthetics deals with the origin of movements, sounds, shapes, and emotions. Tokai nul literal meaning of which is 'compiled book'. This is a dictionary of Siva's 108 dances, explicating twelve in detail. Van nul i.e. 'division book' describes the folk forms found in the five ecological zones into which Tamils divided their landscape. Kalai nul i.e. book of art discusses movement anatomically. Karana nul i.e. 'book of gestures' discusses poses and gestures, tala nul i.e. 'book of tala' classification of time measures in music. Book of lyrics describes music, avai nul i.e. 'assembly book' theatre architecture, and kan nul i.e. 'eye book' discusses the aim of dance. The first two, published, sections give us the schema of emotions expressed on stage and the different dance forms as well.
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