Etymology and History of Kutiyattam

Heike Moser heike.moser at UNI-TUEBINGEN.DE
Fri Oct 12 11:27:17 UTC 2012

Dear all,

കൂടിയാട്ടം = kūṭiyāṭṭam = kūṭi-āṭṭam is clearly of Malayāḷam origin. It’s
meaning is "acting / performing together", "combined acting". Usually it
stands for the ‘performing together’ of at least two actors/actresses during
the final days of a performance cycle after several days of inserted
flashbacks presented by single characters. In the kūṭiyāṭṭam tradition long
solo-sequences or enactments with one character on stage only are called
"kūttu“ (i.e. "Naṅṅyār Kūttu" or "Aṅgulīyāṅkamkūttu").

I discussed the etymological misunderstanding concerning the Sanskrit root
"kūrd" in my dissertation "Naṅṅyār-Kūttu – ein Teilaspekt des
Sanskrittheaterkomplexes Kūṭiyāṭṭam. Historische Entwicklung und
performative Textumsetzung", Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 2008, pages 4 and 21.

Best regards,
Heike Moser


Dr. Heike Moser
Akademische Rätin & Wissenschaftliche Koordinatorin
Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
Asien-Orient-Institut (AOI)
Abteilung für Indologie und Vergleichende Religionswissenschaft
Gartenstr. 19 · 72074 Tübingen
Telefon 07071 29-74005 · Mobil 0176 20030066 ·  Fax 07071 29-2675
heike.moser at

Von:  Suresh Kolichala <suresh.kolichala at GMAIL.COM>
Antworten an:  Suresh Kolichala <suresh.kolichala at GMAIL.COM>
Datum:  Freitag, 12. Oktober 2012 12:19
An:  <INDOLOGY at>
Betreff:  Re: [INDOLOGY] Etymology and History of Kutiyattam

> 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. 
>> ((
>> f 
>> <
>> >  )
> 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 3411,3412
> <> ,
> See DEDR 1705 
> <>
> ).
> Regards,
> Suresh.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list