Page Created by Jijith Nadumuri on 15 Dec 2011 15:26 and updated at 15 Dec 2011 16:42




arankerru kaatai


Once sage Agastya {tiru muni} living in the divine mountains {teyva malvarai} of Potiyil, unfavorably {arula} threw {eytu} a curse {caapam} upon Jayanta, the son {chiruvan} of Indra {intira}. The sage granted {taanam} liberation from the curse due the influence of Apsara {vanavar makal} Urvasi and thus the curse {caapam} was removed {neenki}. Matavi was born {pirappir} in the lineage of that Urvasi of such doubtless {malaippu arun} fame {chirappu} who was agreable {porunti} even to the great sage Agastya living in the famous mountain {chirappir kunram} Potiyil.

Matavi was a woman {matantai} having broad shoulders {perun tol} and curly hair {puri kuzhal} filled with pollen {taatu avizh} of flowers. Matavi studied dancing {aatal}, paatal {singing} and the art of enhancing beauty {azhaku}. She was capable of singing without even one {onru} defect {kurai} in three {muunru} modes {kuur} and was an authority {pataam} in her field. She studied these skills with great effort {iyatti} for seven years {eezh aantu}. After twelve {eer aaru} years {antu}, she wished to show {kaattal} her performance before the king {mannar} of Pukar who has the surrounding {chuul} sea {katal} as the boundary of his kingdom.


Matavi's dance Teacher {aacaan} knew {arintu} the two types {iru vakai} of dance {kuuttu} (folk dance and classical dance) and all their definitions {ilakkanam}. He knew to skillfully {vilakki neer} compose {punarttu} many types {pala vakai} of dances {kuuttu}. He knew {arintu} very well {vilanka} all the eleven {patinor} dances {aatal} with its associated songs {paattu} and Drum sequences {kottu} and with all of its principles {kolkai}and rules {viti}, thus becoming an expert {vitimaan}. He knew to compose {koluttu} dancing {aatal}, singing {paatal}, melodies {paani} and modes {tuukku} obeying the rules {neri} of composition as much as possible {kuutiya}.

He was also aware of the Pinti {pinti} gestures made with one hand and the Pinayal {pinayal} gesture made with two hands. He knew gesture of grace {ezhir-kai} and gesture of action {tozhir-kai}. He knew all its divisions {vakai} corresponding to the dance {kuuttu} (eleven divine dances). Using his hands {kai}, he can make hand-poses successively as Kuutai, Vaaram and then again Kuutai or as Pinti, Aatal and then again Pinti. He know the differences between Kuravai {kuravai} and Vari {vari} dance. Thus he was well known among the dancers {aatar}.


Matavi's Musician {icaiyon}, was a great player of Lute {yaal} and Flute {kuzhal} and had a graceful {cheer} vocal-chord {mitar}. He could follow even a low voice {tazh kural} with his drums {tannumai}. He could harmonize {icaiyutan} the Swaras {icai} (seven sounds) of the song {paatal} with dance {aatal}. He played the right music for Vari {vari} and Aatal {aatar} knowing its subject matter {porul}. He also knew the famous {tiruvu} Tecikam music, its sounds {ocai} its root {katai} and its hold {pitittu}. He had high {unarnta} knowledge {arivu} in Tecikam.

He knew the authentic texts on subjects like the poetic {kaviyatu} purpose {kurippu}, the collection {tokuti} of dance {aatal} types and the divisions {pakuti} of music {paatal}. He combined {koluttu} all these knowledge. His learning {kelvi} in these were without any defects {vacai aru}. Using this knowledge he classified {vakuttu} the songs in accordance to the authentic texts {marapu} on music like icai-marapu {acaiyaa marapu}.

He poetic quality {tanmai} was well known to the whole {muzhutu} Tamil {tamizh} society of the Tamil country {tamilakam} having the roaring sea {imizh katal} as its boundary {varaippu}. He was aware of the the two {iru} types {tiram} of theatre {naattiya} named Vettiyal and Potuviyal, mentioned in authentic texts like Nattiya Nannul {naattiya nannuul} (the grammar of drama). Respecting the good {nanku} boundaries and limits {katia pitittu} of these texts, he who is a music expert, {icaiyon} made changes {vakkiri} to the existing forms and created new forms of high {unarntu} variety.

He knew {arintu} the fault finding speeches {vacai mozhi} of his rivals {maattaar} who envied him and avoided them. He was an expert in the grammar {nannuul} of music and was a scholar {pulavan} in his field. He could play without any breaks {tolaivu illa}. He was highly {unarntu} skiled in all types of dance {aatal}, singing {paatal}, Swaras {icia} (sound), Tamil {tamizh} dialects, melody {pan}, rhythm {paani} and modes {tuukku}. He knew the crippled speech {mutam} and Tecikam {tecikam} speech (use of unique words from different locales).


Matavi's chief {mutalvan} Drummer {tannumai} was an expert {arun tozhil}in his field. He played to the hand poses of Kutai {kuutai} by decreasing {nilattu} the drum-pace without leaving {mikittu} any defect {kuraivu} and for Vara {vaara} he played by increasing it. He played single beats and allowed time for double beats to be heard {ketpak} clearly in perfect harmoney {icaivana} with the sounds of Lute {yaal}, Flute {kuzhal} and low {enkiya} voice {mitar} (lit. vocal chord). His stiff {kuurukir} hands {karanam} knew {arintu} what to do {kuri} and played properly {cherti}. He knew how to do Aakkal {aakkal} and Atakkal {atakkal} with high {mee tiram} skill and authority {pataam}. Using his skillful {chittira} {karanam} he played without defects {citaivu inri}.


Matavi's Flute player {kuzhalon} was an expert of great renoun {collia iyalpu}. He could create beautiful {chittira} illustrations {vanchanai} with his flute. He knew {arintu} its soft {pulliya} and hard consonents {punarppu} with melody {pan} and played its ascending and descending nodes {varttanai} in four {nanku} kinds pf trills bewildering {mayal} the listeners. He was concious {unarvu} missing notes {kural narampu} occurring in some music {kural}. He knew {arintu} the rules {kan neri} of Tibal {pannamai muzhavu} (a kind of war drum) and so could follow it with his flute.

He harmonized {porunti} his flute with the Drummer cheif {tannumai mutalvan}. He tuned the Ragas on the Lute {yaal}. He followed the music {icai} sung {paati} by the singer {icaiyon} He could improve {valarttu} upon what he heard {vantatu} and predicted {otti} what note was to come {varuvatu}. He could play {vait} note by note {icai pata} pleasurably {inpura}. He could make the prime-note {vaara} decrease {nilattu} without any damage {ketu} and improvise {valarttu} to prodcue fresh {eera} fading {nilattu} musical letters {ezhuttu}. He was a flute player {kuzhalon} who can prodcue music {iciai} without any slippage {vazhu}.


Matavi's Lute player was a wizard who could establish {niruttal} seven {oru ezh} scales {paalai} within the pattern of fourteen {eer ezh} notes. He kept {kitanta} the part {paakam} of seventh note {taara} hard {menmai} and the the part {paakam} of the first note {kuralin paakam} soft {menmai}. He kept the Meykkilai {meykkilai} musical-note {narampu} with the Kaikkilai note. Then he beautifully {porpu tait} took the part {paakam} excluding {ozhitta} Kaikkilai of the seventh-note {taaram} without fainting {talaraa} and produced the sixth-note {vilari} and thus with the whole lineage of notes {kilai-vazhi}.

In this way {aanke} the rest of the notes {kilai} dissolved {azhivu} into others. Seeing this {kantu} Matavi's {aval} stomach {vayir} blended {chera} with it. The musical note Enai {enai},like a woman {makalir}, blended {chera} with the rest of the family of notes {kilai-vazhi}. On the high {melatu} was Uzhaili {uzhaili} note and on the low {keezhatu} was Kaikkilai {kaikkilai} note. He thus sounded the Cempalai {cempaali} in the newest {vampu} tradition {marapu}.

He noted the end {iruti} and beginning {aati} cared not to deviate {neenkaa} from the quality {petti} of the traditional style {peru murai} and brought forth Patumalai from the third, Cevvali from the second, the great {pakar} Arum from the first and Palai from the fourth. He cared for each voice {kural} and did cross-examination {tar-kizhamai} of blending. Then based on {vakai} the Munnata {munnatan} hand-pose, and following the four-beats {kizhamai} system of time measurement in music, he brought forth Koti from the seventh, Vilari from the sixth, Mercem from the fifth and Paalai from the fourth.

He gained long-lasting {neeti} fame {kelvi} by plaing the connected {inai} notes {narampu} without breaking {utaiya} and thus acheiving perfect blend {anaivu} of notes. He was aware that on the Lute {yaal mel} the Paalai notes go lower {meliya} in pitch from left-to-right {ita murai} and on the Flute {kuzhal mel} Koti notes go lower {meliya} from right-to-left {vala murai}. He was an expert Lute player who had the knowledge {pulamai} to harmonize the high {valivu}, low {melivu} and median {caman} notes without fading {poliya}. His nature {iyalpu} was like unto the great designers {enniya} and authors {nuulor}.


For the construction of a stage {arankam} a site {mannakam} was chosen by the learned men {vakuttanar} who divides the land. On an auspicious time {netun kalai} they made a path {vazhi} along its central line {netu varai} considered to be divine {punniya}. As per the authentic texts {nuul neri marapu} on the subject, a bamboo rod {kanni tai} having the length of a span {oru chaan} between two joints and and twenty four {iru pattu naal} thumbs {viral} was obtained from the sacred hills to measure {alakku} the stage {arankam}.

The stage was seven rods broad {ezhu kol akal}, eight rods long {en kol neel} and one rod heigh {oru kol uyar}. It had two big doors located at appropriate places. The space {itai nilam} between the horizontal beam {uttara palakai} and the platform {arankin palakai} was four rods {naar kol}. It had two {irantu} entrances {vaay}. Rest was completely {poliya} covered.

In the top floor {mel nilai} was placed images {puutarai ezhuti} of many gods {tozhutanar} for worship and praise. Lamps {mani vilakku} with bright light was arranged at the four corners in such a way that no shadow {tuu nizhal} of the pillers were cast into the stage. Cords were used to secure the curtains of the stage and the curtains between the pillars in the right and left.

There was painted ornamental curtains {ezhini} like Orumuka, Porumuka and Karantuvaral {karantu-varal} (over-hanging curtain) covering the stage enhancing its beauty. There was also a picture-canopy {oviya-vitaanam} decorated with strings of pearls {nittilam}, garlands {maalai taamam} and wreaths {valai} of flowers. Thus the stage {arankam} was constructed with great workmanship {arun tozhil}. It stayed thus {kitantu} expecting guests {viruntu}.


A sacred rod {talai kol} was created using the handle {kaampu} of a beautiful white Umbrella {ven kutai} taken from some famous {per icai} king {mannar} of great repute {peyar} in battle. Its middle {itai nilam} was decorated with the best Navalam {naavalam} Gold {polam} (jamvunada gold; naaval fruit = jamvu fruit). Nine gems {nava mani} were studded {ozhukki} in its joints {kan itai} in a beautiful pattern. It had an emblem of Jayanta {cayantan}, the son {ciruvan} of Indra {intira} who was given worship {vantanai} and offerings {vazhipaatu} in the palace {koyil} of the Chola king {mannavan} who sits under a white Umbrella {ven kutai}.
On an auspicious day {nalam taru naal} Matavi washed {manni} the rod {kol} with holy waters {punniya nan neer} in a golden pot {por kutam} and adorned {anintu} it with a garland {malai} . It was then publicly {paracinar} placed on the head {tatakkai} of the sixty year old royal-elephant {aracu-uvaa} along with a beautiful {puun} golden {polam} vessal {otai} to hold sandal etc.

The war Drum called Muracu {muracu} rose {ezhuntu} and sounded {iyampa}. Conches {paliyam} blew {aarppa}. Then came the king {araicu} with the great {perum} assembly {kuzhu} of five {aim} royal advisors called Aimperumkuzhu {aimperun kuzhu}. He walked around the chariot following the custom of Tervalam {tervalam} and gave the rod to the court poet (Kavi) sitting inside the chariot. Then it was paraded around in the city following the tradition called Urvalam {uurvalam}. Finally they entered {pukuntu} the theater, where they installed {vaittu} the rod.


The distinguished and qualified guests {iyalpinin} took their seats {irukkai} in order {murai murai}. The players of musical instruments {kuyiluva maakkal} stood {nirpa} in order {neri pata}. Matavi placed her right foot {vala-k-kaal} as per custom and stepped on the stage {arankam}. She then reached near the right side pillar {vala-t-tuun} without breaking {vazhakku eana} traditon and agreeable {porunti} to the custom. Other dancers {vakaiyaal} were similarly gathered around the left side pillar {ita-t-tuun}.

They prayed thus:- excellence {ceeriyal} shall not be destroyed {poliya} and obstacles {neerala} shall be removed {neenka}. Then arose two {irantu} types of Vaaram {vaaram} songs in a series {varicai}. Then arose the benediction {eettu}. Then all the musical instruments with accompaniments {kuyiluva-k-karuvi-kal} were sounded togather {kuuti}.

The Lute {yaal} was harmonized with the Flute {kuzhal} and Tannumai {tannumai} (the barrel Drum) with the Lute. The Muzhavu {muzhavu} (pot Drum) was synchronized with the Tannumai ( barrel Drum) and the Amantirikai {aaman tirikai} (left-hand Drum) with the Muzhavu (pot drum). Thus all the instruments played in perfect harmoney. This is called Antaram {antaram}, the play of instruments during the intervals, beginning and end of the dance performace.

One Mantilam {mantilam} beat was made with two {irantu} strokes {kottu}. Eleven {patin onru} such Mantilam beats were made without deviating from the traditional path {vazhi murai} set by existing custom {vanta murai} . After the beats {kottu} of Antaram was finished {atanki}, the song in Palai mode {paalai pan} was sung in excellent manner {mee tiram} authoritatively {pataamai}, in full elaboration {vakkaanam} and divisions {vakuttu}.

Matavi knew {arintu} the four {naanku} perfect parts of the song. She measured {alantu} out the three {muunru} and partly finished by the next one {onru} and fully completed with five {aintu} beats and a Kuutai {kuutai} hand-pose. Next she danced to the Vaaram {vaaram} songs in a trance {mayanki}. Similarly she danced for the sixth {aaru} and fourth {naalu}. She was skillful to fuse doctrine {kolkai} of the five {aintu} beats in the folk dance into her classical dance.

Again {pinnaiyum} in that manner {a-m-murai} she brought many innovations in her dance. She was a dancer of gold quality {pon iyal}. She looked like a dancing creeper adorned with flowers {puun koti}. Her performance revealed that she knew {purintu} all divisions {vakut} of Nattiya Nannul {naattiya nannuul} (natya sastra), the authentic text on dancing.

The king {ventan} who protects {kaaval} all, awarded her with a garland of leaves and flowers {ilai puun kotai} in accordance with {vazham ait} the established custom {iyalp-p-inil}. He also gave her one thousand and eight {aayirattu en} Kazhanchu {kazhanchu} (pieces of pure Gold) as per the tradition {viti murai}. This was the traditional gift for those dancers who had the sacred-rod {talai-kol} and who were the first-time-performers {talai-arangu-eri}.


After a while {oru murai aaka}, Matavi put that famous {petta nal} garland in the hands {kai} of Kuni {kuuni}, a maid with deer {maan} like looks {noki}, but with a bent back. Matavi asked the maid to offer the garland for sale in the street {maruku} where the elite {nampiyar} of the city {nakara} walked around {tiri taru}. She did the same.

Establishing {nirutt} herself in that state {paanmai} before those townsmen {pakarvan} who come and go {polvator} Matavi's maid proclaimed aloud:- 'This garland {maalai} can give birth {peruvatu} to hundred times ten {nuuru pattu} plus {atukki} eight {ettu} more {kata nirutta} pieces of the finest Gold {pacum pon} of excellent and high {veeru uyar} quality. (The worth of this garland is thousand and eight pieces of gold). The one who buys {vaanku} this garland {maalai} owns our Toddy {caalu} like mistress by adorning her neck with Koti (Gold string or chain for women's neck).

That garland {maalai}, of Matavi having lotus {maa malar} like wide-eyes {netun kan}, was bought by Kovalan. He followed the hunch back maid, Kuni {kuuni}, into Matavi's fine apartment {mana manai} and entered into the embrace {anaivu} of Matavi. In that very instant {vaikal}, he fainted {ayarntu} (as if coming under the spell of Matavi) and tranced {mayanki}. He came into a state of deep desire {viruppu} towards Matavi from which he did not know {ariyaa} any eacape {vitutal}. His celibacy {vatu} departed {neenku} him and he forgot {marantu} his praise-worthy {cirappin} home {manaiyakam}.


Matavi displayed on the dancing stage {aat aranku} her skill in numbers {ennu}, letters {ezhuttu}, the five {aintu} kinds of Iyal (a type of Tamil literature) and the four {nanku} types of melodies {pan}. On that day {inra} she did {panni} all of the eleven {patin onru} kinds of dance {kuuttu}. Thus the words {vaakku} of fame of that woman with golden bracelets {pottoti} viz Matavi, living in the city of Puum Pukar {puum pukaar} (the great pukar), spread {pokki} upon the whole earth {mannin mel}.

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