new book on tamil cankam and sanskrit kaavya

Jan E.M. Houben j_e_m_houben at YAHOO.COM
Sun Jul 29 10:18:50 UTC 2001

Did Tamil Cankam poetry describe a contemporary
society, or an idealized pure Tamil society of the
past, as it was imagined in a time already greatly
influenced by North-Indian Sanskrit culture ... ?

The following recent publication is perhaps of
interest to readers of this list because of the
challenging thesis on the relative chronology of early
Tamil poetry and Sanskrit Kaavya defended in it.

Title: Kaavya in South India: Old Tamil Cankam Poetry.
Author: Herman Tieken
Publ.: Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 2001

> From the back cover:
"Old Tamil Cankam poetry consists of eight anthologies
of short poems on love and war, and a treatise on
grammar and poetics. The main part of this corpus has
generally been dated to the first centuries AD and is
believed to be the product of a native Tamil culture.
The present study argues that the poems do not
describe a contemporary society but a society from the
past or one not yet affected by North-Indian Sanskrit
culture. Consequently the main argument for the
current early dating of Cankam poetry is no longer
valid. Furthermore, on the basis of a study of the
historical setting of the heroic poems and of the role
of Tamil as a literary language in the Cankam corpus,
it is argued that the poetic tradition was developed
by the PaaNTiyas in the ninth or tenth century.
... the identification of the various genres of Cankam
poetry with literary types from the Sanskrit Kaavya
tradition ... indicates that in Cankam poetry Tamil
has been specifically assigned the role of a Praakrit.
... "

Jan E.M. Houben
Kern Institute
P.O. Box 9515
NL-2300 RA  Leiden
J.E.M.Houben at

Do You Yahoo!?
Make international calls for as low as $.04/minute with Yahoo! Messenger

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list