The Kuravanji Story

Kuravanji, now popular as dramatised in dance, is placed among the minor literary genres in Tamil (‘sitrilakkiyam’). The spread of this form can be traced from the 17th century. In a sense, this is a composite category, amalgamating elements like ‘kura-p-paattu’, ‘ula’, figuring in Sangam and later literature. ‘Kurathi’, may now convey a nomadic gypsy image, but the Tamil tradition accords a dignified place for the tribe, with its own ethos and accomplishments. The ‘Valli’ association has given enhanced pride and pedigree to the clan and the ‘kurathi’ character is ‘seen and heard’ often, referring to this fact. Women poets of the Sangam period included some from this clan.