The Anklet Story

nas_ng at nas_ng at
Thu Mar 9 16:24:04 UTC 1995

                  CilappatikAram / Kannaki Vazhakkurai

CilappatikAram is a Tamil epic (5th centurury A.D. ?) sung by
Ilango Adigal. There must be atleast 600+ books in Tamil on 
"The Story of the Anklet". Quite a few in English too. 
An elegant translation done by a poet has come out:
R. Parthasarathy, The CilappatikAram of ilankO aTikaL:
an epic of South India, 1993, Columbia University Press, 426 p.

The interesting thing is that the main character is still worshipped
in some parts of Kerala and among Sinhalese in Sri Lanka.
Also, different folk versions of the story are prevalent. Please see
1) Kannaki Vazhakkurai (editor: vi. ci. kantaiya), 1968, 470 p.
(Sri Lankan tamil version attributed to Cinkac CekaracacEkaran) 
2) G. Obeyesekere, The cult of the goddess Pattini, Univ. of Chicago, 
1984, 629 p. 16 plates. (Among Sinhalese) 3) Pi. nacimtIn TAkTar, 
kOvilan carittiram - Study of a tribal folk ballad, Sivagangai, 
Annam, 1992 114 p. (A Kerala version)

ci. kOvintarAcanAr, an epigraphist, has identified the temple 
erected to Kannaki in Suruli hills of Madurai district. His identification 
was through Chola inscriptions of 11th century. Refer his work
A flash of light on a hidden fact: an important place at Neduvel Kunram
mentioned in the Tamil epic SilappatikAram, 8 p., Thanjavur, 1968
Even though many places by others have been suggested before and after,
now the widely held opinion tends to be the place first identified by
C. Govindarajan. He has written a recent book, KannakiyAr aTiccuvaTTil,
Madurai Kamaraj University, 1991, 189 p.

I will write on Tamil books published from Ceylon from 1830s
and the need to preserve them. In 1981, Jaffna library with lots
of archive material from 18-19th century American missionaries, 
the priceless collections if Arumuga Navalar and one-of-a-kind tamil books
(not to be found anywhere in Tamilnadu libraries or the West)
were burnt. I have about 400 titles and will publish a select short
list soon.

n. ganesan
nas_ng at


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