Old Tamil Poetry

Translations of Tamil Poetic works that span 2000 years

Kambaramayanam – 75

Women’s sharp eyes mock comparisons;
their gait mocks female elephants;
pair of breasts mock lotus buds;
their face mocks the flawless moon.

விதியினை நகுவன அயில் விழி; பிடியின்
கதியினை நகுவன அவர்நடை; கமலப்
பொதியினை நகுவன புணர் முலை; கலை வாழ்
மதியினை நகுவன வனிதையர் வதனம்.

Introducing the country and praising it (நாட்டுப் படலம்) before starting an epic is the regular structure in Indian epics. Here Kamban is describing the bounty of Kosala country before telling us the story of Rama.

The women of Kosala are so well formed that their body parts mock the objects they are compared with. Their sharp eyes mock all objects they are compared to. Their graceful walk mocks the walk of the female elephant, their breasts mock the lotus buds and their face mocks the moon that is perfect in all aspects.

Comparing a woman’s walk to the gait of a female elephant is fairly common in classical Indian literature, though it might sound odd for people from other countries.

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