Female Dancers in Ancient Tamil Tradition Rise and Fall – From 200 BC to 300 AD

தமிழ்மரபில் ஆடற்பெண்கள் - வாழ்வும் வீழ்ச்சியும் கி.மு. 2 ஆம் நூற்றாண்டு தொடக்கம் கி.பி. 3 ஆம் நூற்றாண்டு வரை

Keywords: Tamil literature, Sangam Poems, Sangam period, Ettuthokai, Pathtuppatu, Tolkapiyam, Dance tradition, Ritual dances, Virali, Patini, Barathanatiyam panar


The history of origin and development of dance and music tradition of Tamils in the ancient period can be traced merely from Cangam literature-Ettuthokai and Patthuppattu . The period of this literature is considered from 200 BC to later period of 300 AD or early part of the 4th century AD. There is no other evidences excavated about the ancient dancers from archeological sources. K.A Neelakanda Sastry, historian of Tamil Nadu used Ettuthokai and Pattuppattu as a significant source to write the ancient history of Tamil Nadu, as evidences for the history because of non availability of archeological evidences at that time.

Ancient Dance tradition of Tamils was originated from the indigenous dance tradition of Tamils, lived in Kurinji (hill Countryand nearby lands) Mullai (pastoral region) Marutham (rivarbanks) Neithal (Coastal Area) and Palai (desert).Cangam literature shows that the tribal people of these lands performed ritual dances . These performances are the roots to the origin of Tamil dances , after that, with the establishment of state
formation of Tamil Nadu skill dancers and minstrels developed new forms of dances and music, in later period these dances were being called as Vettiyal.

Dancers and minstrels were lived under the patronage of the kings of Tamil Nadu and loved by the kings. These performers praised the kings’ victory, their patronization and nvolved in their patrons’ family life also.

Ritual dances were performed in Cult spots and war front.The literature shows that some of these performances have been developed as classical dances.

Nowadays there is an opinion about Baratha natiyam that it was originated from sanskrit sources. But the ancient history of this dance tradition clearly shows that Baratha natiam was originated from the ancient dance tradition of Tamil Nadu.

This study focuses the origin and development of dance tradition of ancient Tamils and the performances of female dancers of thisera, and flourished life of the the mas well asin the decline of the kings of three monarchy and other patrons how the dancers lost their wealthy life in the period.