Etymology and History of Kutiyattam

Suresh Kolichala suresh.kolichala at GMAIL.COM
Fri Oct 12 10:19:50 UTC 2012

On Fri, Oct 12, 2012 at 12:07 AM, Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan <
palaniappa at> wrote:

>  Dear Scholars,
> There is a CBSE document ( ) on the Web dated September 2, 2012 which says the  following:
> *"*The word Kutiyattam is derived from the word ‘Kuti’ which in Malayalam language primarily means ‘combined’ or ‘together’ while ‘attam’ means acting. Therefore, the word ‘Kuttiyatam‘ means combined acting.*"*
> The above document was a product of the CBSE Research & Development Unit.* *
> But 'Module 10 - Theatre and Drama in India' of the 'Knowledge Traditions & Practices of India' textbook edited by Kapil Kapoor and Michel Danino and probably uploaded on or after September 14, 2012 says the following on page 7. (( )
Although the document was uploaded on September 14, 2012, it is very likely
that the content was prepared much earlier. I believe the website version
is meant to be a later correction.

> "Kuṭiyaṭṭam (or kūṭhiyaṭṭam) is derived from the Sanskrit word
> kūrd, meaning to ‘to play’. Kuṭiyaṭṭam, the only surviving specimen
> of the ancient Sanskrit theatre, remains a popular theatre form in
> Kerala. In May 2001, kuṭiyaṭṭam earned a rare honour when UNESCO
> declared it a masterpiece of human heritage to be protected and
> preserved. It is believed that Kulasekhara Varma Cheraman Perumal, an
> ancient King of Kerala, was the creator of kuṭiyaṭṭam in its present
> form. His book Āṭṭaprakaraṇa is considered as the most authoritative
> work on the art form till date."

This entire paragraph appears to be a straight lift from one of these
sites. It is also possible that the Wikipedia entry for Kutiyattam had this
exact paragraph sometime in the past.<>

It is interesting that even the Sanskrit word *kūrd *is possibly a
borrowing from Dravidian (Burrow *Dravidian Studies VII* 1948:375, CDIAL
See DEDR 1705<>


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