Tamil dating stories
So, on the surface they appear to pass the test and do express women’s innermost feelings oftentimes without mentioning a man; technically most pass the test. But didn’t you say earlier that many of these poems were composed by women themselves? It is exceptional to have such a large part of the corpus of any historical literature written by women!
But under the surface, the woman’s state is a result of a man’s behavior. One of the most prolific sangam poets of ancient times, the 9th most prolific, was a woman, Auviyār.
Women play very prominent roles in all of the early Tamil epics, unlike most epics or ancient literatures of the world, where a woman often only is a romantic partner to the male lead, but has no role or agency of her own beyond that of wife or beautiful lover.
So we see something atypical in the earliest period of Tamil poetry, the sangam period and in the early epics.
It was named after the sangams, the academies of writers and scholars that were associated together.
Sangam literature very frequently features poems about women speaking to other women, and they were often even composed by women.
So, this test is in widespread use today for film critique, especially popular in European cinema boards, but also commonly used in the US, even by .
It’s shocking that even today, with movies released in recent years, say, almost half of film releases fail this simple test!
This region also included what is today Kerala, ancient Cēra country, the southernmost part of India today.She composed 59 of the 2200 odd poems, so something like 2 or 3% of the total corpus. She belonged to the Viṟaliyar caste of dancers and singers who at the time were very highly respected.And there were other female poetesses as well, at least 20 female poets that we know for certain by name and possibly up to 40, with names which might be female or not, since many are pen names. Her dating is quite certain because she wrote to entertain a minor king, under whose patronage she was, and she seems to have been quite good friends with him, she would eat and drink with him and so on.Plus many poems are anonymous, so in reality many more might have been written by women. He was Atikamāṉ Neṭumāṉ Añci of Takaṭūr, an opponent of the Cēra monarch at the time.Anyway, we often get little snippets of information about the historical lives of poets or of regional kings or of historical events from the poems themselves. CE, the great Mauryan empire in India made so powerful by Aśoka had all but ended, the Ramayana was in the form that we know it today, the Laws of Manu, a famous Indian text of religious law was complete in the form in which we know it today. CE, during Auviyār’s lifetime, the Cēra dynasty, as mentioned in the Ramayana, ruled in far southern India, the Pandyas ruled in the middle of what is Tamil Nadu today, even the earliest Cōḻas, who became very powerful much later, were certainly ruling a little farther north by the beginning of the 2nd c. We find snippets about these dynasties and about people’s daily lives in the sangam poems.
Discounting the war poems, a majority of the poetry is composed in women’s voices. But the sangam poems don’t often pass the third question of the Bechdel test: that is, women talking about something other than a man.