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Annanmar Katai - a Tamil Oral Epic

Annanmar Katai (The Elder Brothers Story) is a 15th-century Tamil oral narrative epic/ballad and is the story of three twins, two elder brothers and their younger sister. This exhibit is based on Brenda Beck’s collection of this Tamil oral epic, Annanmar Katai, at the ARCE. Recorded in the 1960s in an unelectrified village near Coimbatore in South India, this is a rendition of the Annanmar Katai in the style of Udukkai Pattu (hourglass drum song) by lead bard Erucanampalayam Ramasami and his nephew, Olappalayam Palanisami. The Annanmar Katai is about the lives and conflicts of artisan-trader, feudal-farmer, and tribal-hunter communities. It is a story of three generations of jealousy, quest for power, childlessness, magic, gods, monsters, love, and rivalry. Brenda Beck’s collection at the ARCE is 44 hours long and is the two bards' recording of the Annanmar Katai across 19 evenings. The archive also has photographs of the performers, the performance space, the temple, and the audience.

Curated by Balakrishnan Raghavan

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