Manipravalam (Template:Indic; Template:Indic; “ruby coral”) was a literary style used in medieval liturgical texts in South India. Manipravalam literally means 'gem and coral', meaning a mixture of two languages. In Tamil Nadu the manipravalam was a combination of Tamil and Sanskrit.This was prevalent in Vaishnavite religious literature in Tamil Nadu and literary works in general in Kerala.

Since Tamil Vatteluttu did not have characters to represent some Sanskrit sounds, letters from the Grantha script were used to represent them. Native words and grammatical endings were written using Vatteluttu, and Sanskrit words were written using Grantha. Essentially, it was a hybrid script composed of Vatteluttu and the Grantha script.

Various hagiographies on the life of the Vaishnava saint Ramanuja were in manipravalam. Leelathilakam, a work on grammar and rhetoric, written in the last quarter of the 14th century in Kerala, discusses the relationship between Manipravalam and Pattu as poetic forms. It lays special emphasis on the types of words that blend harmoniously. It points out that the rules of Sanskrit prosody should be followed in Manipravalam poetry. This particular school of poetry was patronized by the upper classes, especially the Namboodiris.

Dramatic performances given in Koothambalams, known by the names of Koothu and Koodiyattom, often used Sanskrit and Malayalam. In Koodiyattom, the clown (vidooshaka) is allowed to use Malayalam while the hero recites slokas in Sanskrit. Tholan, a legendary court poet in the period of the Kulasekhara kings, is believed to have started this practice. The language of Kramadeepikas and Attaprakarams, which lay down the rules and regulations for these dramatic performances, is considerably influenced by the composite literary dialect of Manipravalam.

Effect on the history of the Malayalam scriptEdit

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.[1] Eventually Vaṭṭeḻuttŭ was almost completely supplanted by Ārya eḻuttŭ, that is, the modern Malayalam script.




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