Manipravalam used to write Malayalam

Manipravalam (Malayalam: മണിപ്രവാളം, Tamil: மணிப்பிரவாளம், romanized: Maṇipravāḷam) is a macaronic language found in some manuscripts of South India. It is a hybrid language, typically written in the Grantha script, which combines Sanskrit lexicon and Tamil morpho-syntax.[1][2][3] According to language scholars Giovanni Ciotti and Marco Franceschini, the blending of Tamil and Sanskrit is evidenced in manuscripts and their colophons over a long period of time, and this ultimately may have contributed to the emergence of Manipravalam.[4] However, the 14th century Sanskrit work Lilatilakam states that Manipravalam is a combination of Tamil and Sanskrit.[5] Generally, it is agreed that it was a combination of Middle Tamil and Sanskrit.[6][5][7][8]

The twelfth century has been described as a watershed moment in the history of Malayalam, where it was finally accepted as a vehicle for literary expression. The two dominant schools in Malayalam writing were the pattu and the manipravalam, the former being influenced by Tamil poetic traditions and the latter designated for Sanskrit influences. Despite their extraneous regulation, the two schools would come to dominate the edifice of Malayalam poetry that they continue to shape its style to this day.[9]

Mani-pravalam literally means 'gem-coral',[10] with mani referring to gem in Tamil, and pravalam referring to coral in Sanskrit.[11] It likely played a role in the growth of the Malayalam literature and Modern Malayalam script. The Kerala scholars distinguished Manipravalam from the aforementioned pattu, the former being significantly influenced by Sanskrit and the latter predominantly Tamil.[12] Manipravalam has been used for poetry manuscripts that combine Dravidian and Sanskrit, as well as South Indian works on eroticism. The 14th-century Lilatilakam text states Manipravalam to be a Bhashya (language) where "Dravida and Sanskrit should combine together like ruby and coral, without the least trace of any discord".[12][13]

Influence on the Malayalam script

Example of Manipravalam text converted to Tamil language and script

It is suggested that the advent of the Manipravalam style, where letters of the Grantha script coexisted with the traditional Vatteluttu letters, made it easier for people in Kerala to accept a Grantha-based script Ārya eḻuttŭ, and paved the way for the introduction of the new writing system.[14] Eventually Vaṭṭeḻuttŭ was almost completely supplanted by the modern Malayalam script.

See also


  1. ^ Giovanni Ciotti; Hang Lin (2016). Tracing Manuscripts in Time and Space through Paratexts. Walter De Gruyter. pp. 62–63. ISBN 978-3-11-047901-0.
  2. ^ Blackburn, Stuart (2006). Print, folklore, and nationalism in colonial South India. New York, Springer. p. 29. After about AD 1500, translations from Sanskrit did appear, and unassimilated words began to flood literary Malayalam; eventually a hybrid idiom (manipravalam) mixing Sanskrit and dravidian words, and Sanskrit words with dravidian inflections, was devised
  3. ^ The Illustrated weekly of India, (1965). Volume 86. Bennett, Coleman & Co., Ltd. pp. 35-37
  4. ^ Giovanni Ciotti; Hang Lin (2016). Tracing Manuscripts in Time and Space through Paratexts. Walter De Gruyter. pp. 62–68. ISBN 978-3-11-047901-0.
  5. ^ a b T. K. Krishna Menon (1990). A Primer of Malayalam Literature. p. 9. ISBN 9788120606036.
  6. ^ Orsini, Francesca (2016-12-05). The History of the Book in South Asia. Routledge. p. 146. ISBN 978-1-351-88831-8.
  7. ^ Cerulli, Anthony (2022-03-15). The Practice of Texts: Education and Healing in South India. Univ of California Press. p. 192. ISBN 978-0-520-38354-8.
  8. ^ History of People and Their Environs: Essays in Honour of Prof. B.S. Chandrababu. Bharathi Puthakalayam. 2011. p. 278. ISBN 978-93-80325-91-0.
  9. ^ Paniker, K. Ayyappa (1997). Medieval Indian Literature: Surveys and selections. Sahitya Akademi. ISBN 978-81-260-0365-5.
  10. ^ "Sanskrit Dictionary for Spoken Sanskrit". Retrieved 2019-04-09.
  11. ^ "Manipravalam (A hybrid language between Sanskrit and Tamil)". History Forum. Retrieved 2022-06-28.
  12. ^ a b Sheldon Pollock; Arvind Raghunathan (19 May 2003). Literary Cultures in History: Reconstructions from South Asia. University of California Press. pp. 449, 455–472. ISBN 978-0-520-22821-4.
  13. ^ Ke Rāmacandr̲an Nāyar (1971). Early Manipravalam: a study. Anjali. Foreign Language Study. pp. 78
  14. ^ "Alphabets". Government of Kerala. Archived from the original on 2009-11-09. Retrieved 2009-10-31.