Kunchan Nambiar

Kunchan Nambiar

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Category: Literature

Kunchan Nambiar Profile

  • Name:
  • Kunchan Nambiar
  • Profession / Known For:
  • Poet

Kunchan Nambiar Biography

Kunchan Nambiar is popularly known as the ‘Founder of Thullal Prasthanam’ of which Ottam Thullal with rigour steps is most popular. Parayan Thullal and Sheetangan Thullal are the rest two derivatives of Thullal. This genius with great sense of humour is often considered as the master of Malayalam satirist poetry. Kalakkathu Kunchan Nambiar is his original name and he is also a great poet, performer and satirist. He performed Ottam Thullal for the first time in Ampalapuzha Krishna Temple. He lived in the 18th century and thus one of the earliest poets of Malayalam. There is an opinion that Sanskrit poet Rama Panivada and Nambiar are the same.  The distinct characteristic of Nambiar’s poems is that at a time of profound authors with great and serious works, Nambiar’s works lacked seriousness. They are full packed entertainers and crowd pullers too, when Thullal is performed on stage.


Kunchan Nambiar spent his early childhood at Killikkurussimangalam. His boyhood was spent at Kudamalur and youth at Ambalappuzha. In 1748 he went to Travancore and was at the court of King Marthanda Varma of Travancore Kingdom. Later when Dharma Raja succeeded the throne, he was in the court of Maharaja.


There is a story behind the innovation of Thullal. He was playing an instrument ‘Mizhavu’ when Chakyar Koothu was performed in Ambalapuzha Krishna Temple. One day, while stage performance was going on, he fell asleep and forgot to beat Mizhavu. The performer Chakyar became angry and teased Nambiar for that. Nambiar felt ashamed of it and thought of inventing an art form that can pull crowd towards it, than Koothu. Thus he used ‘Hasyam’ among the Navarasa to write lines for the performing art form ‘Thullal’. Next day when he performed it in the same temple, crowd left Chakyar Koothu and crowded around him to see this newly innovated art form. The lines filled with funny incidents and fast recitation attracted it and very soon it became a popular art form of Kerala.


Though he used funny language to express his ideas, his poems are filled with philosophic thoughts that keep us thinking. Many of his verses are considered as proverbs of Malayalam language. Among all his works, Kalyana Saugandhikam is most popular. The most important of Nambiar's Thullals are: Syamantakam, Ghoshayatra, Kiratam, Santanagopalam, Patracaritam, Kartaviryarijunavijayam, Bakavadham, Kalyana Saugandhikam, Hariniswayamvaram, Tripuradahanam and Sabha Pravesam.  All these works are extracted from Hindu mythology. When Ezhuthachan wrote Kilipattu in serious and spiritual style, Kunjan Nambiar did it in a loose and simple language.   

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Updated: October 24, 2013

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