Pattinappaalai, is a Tamil poetic work in the "
Pathinenmaelkanakku" anthology of Tamil literature, belonging to the Sangamperiod corresponding to between 100 BCE – 100 CE. "Pattinappaalai" is part of the Pattupattucollection, which is the oldest available collection of long poems in Tamil literature. "Pattinappaalai" contains 301 lines of poetry in the "akaval" meter. "Pattinappaalai" was written by the poet Uruthirankannanaar in praise of the Cholaking Karikala. "Pattinappaalai" poems belong to the "Akam", or subjective themes of love and human relationships and utilises the location of the story to sing praises of the ruler.
"Pattinappaalai" contains vivid descriptions of the ancient Chola capital of Kaveripattinam (Puhar), which was located at the mouth of the river
Kaveri. The flourishing sea-trade and the antics of Yavanas, the merchants from ancient Greece and Rome, their living quarters, etc are colourfully described by the poet. The realistic nature of these descriptions makes us wonder whether these to be eyewitness accounts rather than an imaginary account of a poet. It gives details about the goods that were imported and exported from the Puhar port, the professions which flourished in the port. Pattinappalai also gives an idealised description of the merchants plying their trade in Puhar ("Pattinappaalai" – II –199-212):
:"They shunned murder, and put aside theft, pleased the gods by fire offerings,they regarded others rights as scrupulously as their own, they took nothing more than was due to them and never gave less that was due from them. Trading thus in many articles of merchandise, they enjoyed an ancient heritage of prosperity and lived in close proximity to one another."
The story in "Pattinappaalai" is about the hero who has to travel away from Puhar in order to earn his livelihood. But he is hesitant, as he knows that his lover will be forlorn in his absence. "Pattinappaalai" is the soliloquy of the hero in which he addresses himself: "O heart! I will not leave the prosperous Puhar to go abroad looking for wealth. The way in which one needs to travel is a "paalai" land (wasteland). It is as treacherous as Karikala's sword. My lover is tender hearted as Karikala's reign. I will never leave my dear lover".
This, the entire story of "Pattinappaalai" forms a mere six lines of poetry. The rest of the poem is devoted to the description of Puhar and of Karikala's might and valour.
* http://www.tamilnation.org/literature/pathinen/pm0077.pdf "Pattinappaalai" eText at
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