Folklore literature is a very important facet
of the history of Tamil literature. This lesson introduces its special
Of the four central units, the first one explains
folklore, describes Tamil folks and presents the recordings of folksongs.
In the second unit you will learn about folklore literature and
folk arts. People of Tamil rural areas and their usage of words
are discussed in the third unit. Oral and written literature forms
the subject of the fourth unit.
The term, Folk generally refers to people neither
primitive nor the civilised elite. They are often illiterate, rural
and of the lower social stratum. Lore, the second part of the subject,
floklore, refers to the collection of tradition and information
held by these people. In Tamil it is called Naattu Padayal, Nattar
Vazhakaattiyal or Nattupuraviyal. The unique qualities of this literature
are oral, traditional, anonymous, in different versions and formalized.
The rural people with sweet voice used to record in their minds
Folklore literature comprises songs, stories,
strory-poems, proverbs, riddles and mythology. Folk songs are lullaby,
children’s songs, love songs, work songs, festival songs, devotional
songs, death songs, and other kinds called Panimalar Paadalkal.
Folk stories are concerned with humans, animals, magic, gods, mythology,
and multi-meaning. Folk story-poems or ballads are structured as
four parts called prayer, teacher worship, history and good wishes.
Proverbs are the essence of the knowledge and experience of the
traditionally rural people, classified on the basis of size, subject,
alphabet, structure or function. Riddles can be folk riddles or
literary ones. Myths can be classified into great mythological works,
structured stories of life’s principles, caste-based works, Thala
Puraanam or history of places, based on ethics and morals. For the
Tamil folks, belief is said to be a third hand. Folk arts can be
social or religious as Cilampaattam or Devaraattam. There are twenty
nine types of folk arts. Folk crafts are made of raw materials like
earth, paper, wood, grass, metals, stories, yarn and agricultural
products of paddy and cardamom.
The rural people are called Nattaar in Tamil.
The great Tamil dictionary gives as meanings of Nattaar the words
like Thecathaar, Mahacanam, Nattaanmaikaarar, caste people like
Oral and written forms of folk literature are
creations before and after the advent of printing. Oral traditon
is, however, considered as the original source.
Thus, on learning this lesson you will understand
all about folk literature, folk people and oral literature preceding