MAPPILA TRADITION IN FOLK ARTS - Information and ... TRADITION IN FOLK ARTS Folk Arts are a branch of Folk culture but the tradition of Folk arts among Mappilas deservesspecial study due to its vibrant and variant nature. Mappila Folk arts are the blend of Arab cultural ...
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MAPPILA TRADITION IN FOLK ARTS
Abdurahiman.K.P Mappila heritage: A study in their social and cultural life Thesis. Department of History, University of Calicut, 2004
CHAPTER - 7
MAPPILA TRADITION IN FOLK ARTS
Folk Arts are a branch of Folk culture but the tradition of Folk arts
among Mappilas deservesspecial study due to its vibrant and variant nature.
Mappila Folk arts are the blend of Arab cultural elements and the indigenous
cultural aspects. But in some aspects of the art forms, resemblance can be
seen with Hindu art forms. The rhyme of songs used in the art and the rhythm
of recitation of such songs is closer to Arabian tradition but the performance
of art forms is closer to local arts. The Ayiila performed by Arabs have closer
similarity with Duffmutt of Mappilas. But more is the indebtedness of
Mappilas Folk arts to local art forms practised by various Hindu classes.
The Hindu Muslim cultural symbiosis is also evident in the Mappila art.
The Mappilas followed the indigenous art form with slight variations.
Mappila folk art called K6lka_li is the Muslim version of the indigenous art
known as kbliittarn or RGjasiiya. Mappilas Islamised this art by replacing tile
Hindu devotional songs to Mappila songs. Mappilas start their K@lka_li with
prayers to Allah, Prophet Muhammed and Sufi saints. The martial an called
Ka1aripa~t_ is directly adopted and practised and made their own art by
Mappilas. M8ppda Kaiaris were started in Mappila centres in par with Nair
Kalaris. The parichakali is an adaptation of kajaripayqtf and the Mappilas
have developed their own tradition in this art which is known as
Parichamuttu. The Oppana dance of Mappilas resembles the Kaikottika_l~ and
Tirztvathi_rakak as practised by Hindu women.
Among the Mappila Folk Arts, we can see three categories. One is only
the oral forms in which no musical instruments or body movements are used
like VattapZttzr, pZd1pparachil etc. The second category includes songs and
physical, movements combined together like the fine arts oppana, kzlkdi,
Dzlff and Arabana. The third category is martial arts in whlch physical
exercises are the only aspect. Ka_la_rpaya_t& Pa~ichanzutt and Padkaii belong
to this group. Whatever may be the art form, the Mappila songs are an
integral part of arts. This is the soul of all folk art forms. Thus the Mappila
folk arts are a combination of songs and play which make it pleasing and
enjoyable. Not only the peasants, labourers and workers enjoy it, but people
in the all walks of life enjoy the folk art forms.
LattapZtt is a folk art which was an essential part of Mappila marriages
in the early years of 20"' centuly. In some areas of Malabar it was also known
as KalyanapZt, - p~tthlyaplZpZtt and KolZnnlbipZtt. In those days marriages
were conducted at night and VattapSltr was the major attraction of the event. A
maniage without this a ~ t form was unthinkable. The Vattapittlrkiir were
professional troops of Mappila marriages.
The date of VuttZpattzrkZr was fixed one or two weeks earlier. Usually
there were 8 or 10 singers in a troop. They had reached the house of
bridegroom in the evening. After prayer and light food, the singers would seat
in a circle on mattress spread in the panda1 or on pad@purarn (high platform). S
Small drum, kainzagi, wooden clappers, kOIZmbi - etc., were used as musical
instruments. With the permission of the house kiiranavar, - the team started the
1 programme. The VattapZtt started with Viruthanz, (Bismi, - hanzd and - salzth),
Munajath and Mangala gana. After this, clappings and musical instruments
were used according to the songs.
The songs for VattapZttzr were mostly taken from the compositions of
Tamil poets namely Pulavar, Shahul Hameed, Gundevedi, Hassanali, Alim
Labba et.al. Late K.T. Muhammed and V.K.S. Moulavi composed good songs
especially in the Hindi film tunes.2
The singers accompanied the bridegroom procession and sang on the
way Baineelam songs as they reached the bride's house. These songs got rid
off the boredom and difficulties of journey in the night and delighted the
people especially when they had to walk 10 or 15 miles. Through out the
procession the singers sang pallavi, i.e. Thana Thana Thana, Thanani,
Pzrthzrniiiranuni Sodaranrm Etha Pokzrnne As the p m reached about 50 yards
away from bride's residence, they would wait till the k@a~?_avar and singers of
the bride's side welcomed them. These two groups of singers competed each
1 V.T. Alavikutty. Pookkottur. "Onnayile Thollapattthl'.. Cllandrika Weekend Ediuon. Calicut. 25.10 98. p.3
2 Eqbal Kallingal. ' Vattapatt sangam'. Chandrika Dail;.. Calicut. dtd. 13.4.1999.
other with songs until the K&anavar interfered to stop it and invited them to - - the pandal. Then the two groups of singers would sit face to face. After light
refreshment the competition would start. After the usual virutham and
MunZjZth one party would sing two or three songs fiom any famous
composition. The other party should sing fiom the same composition other
wise they would be considered incompetent. Such a high competitive spirit
existed among the singers. Even at the time of fixing the date, they would
enquire about the opposite party and would make preparations accordingly.
Some professional troops participated in 25 marriages within one week. With
the shifhng of marriage ceremonies to day time and with the introduction of
modem musical instruments vattapiittu has almost vanished.
This is a form of art fostered by Mappilas of Malabar which is also
known as Qissap'Lattu recitation. A similar art exists among the Hindu class
namely Harikathii Kalakshepa or p~dakam.3 It is a primitive form of the
modem Kathiiprasangam. PZdipparachil (to sing and explain) is not entirely
an art form for amusement but it has close affinity to religious devotion and
piety, because this art is performed by learned scholars of religion. Among
the two persons participated in the art, one is a good singer and the other is a
3. P.K. Mohamad Kunhl, Muslirnin~alu~n Kerala Samskmwrn. Trichur, 1982. p.3 11
good speaker well-versed in religious books, hstory and culture. This a13 is
conducted during the night and venue is a public place of gatherings or near a
mosque or othupalli. In early days, petromax or r6ntal used to lighten the area
and the pZdipparachi1 started with Salafh and Madb songs. The Qissa or story
is completely based on Islamic literature. The old stories of Prophet's, events
in the life of Prophet Muhammad and the wars during Caliphs are the theme of
QissapZttu. The works of Moyinkutty Vaidyar are widely used. His famous
works like Badr padapZtt, Uhud padapiitt, Badr-ul-Muneer Husnul Jamal,
Malappuram Qissapztt are the favourite ones. The old poetical compositions
like Yusuf Qissa, Futuhushiim, Gulzanober, Karbala Qissa, Khybar Qissa etc.,
are also used for this art. The singer beautifully recites the songs and speaker
explains its meaning, circumstances and back ground. While explaining he
often refers to contemporary events and makes the presentation enjoyable. On
some parts of story both singer and speaker jointly recite the song to get more
emphasis to the story. But never the singer explains the story. Usually one
QissapZtt prolongs to 7 to 10 days to finish. Often the Qissapiitt is extended
to late night meanwhile the audience patiently enjoy the songs and story. Thus
it is a grand art form which the Mappilas are still enjoying enthusiastically.
This is a three fold musical instrument with one cheeni (musical pipe),
oflla (Drum) and one Murash (small drum). Cheeni is in close resemblance
with Persian instrument called Shahnai, thus cheeni came to be known as
Mutturn vijiyum. When beautiful musical tones would be played through
cheeni the otta - - and Murash would be beaten to match the tunes. The tune
played through cheeni is mostly from mcrppi_lapirrtu, especially the songs of
Moyinkutty ~ a i d ~ a r . ~ Cheenimutt has some resemblance with Panchmtiea
used in temple festivals. If one pipe and ElathZjam is omitted from
Panchavacj/a it becomes cheenimutt. As Panchaviidya is closely associated
with Hindu festivals, cheenimutt is closely associated with Mappila festivals
known as nzrchas. The Cheenimutt is an integral part of all nerchas of
Malabar. Besides MappilapiSttu, popular songs fiom Malayalarn, Hindi and
Tamil films are also tuned through cheenimutt. With the extinct of so many
n e r c h , this beautifbl art form almost vanished fiom the scene. The only
living legend of this art form is V. Kuttiyali of Kondotti.
This is another form of the art Cheenimutt. In place of small drums, big
round shaped drums are used. As per the tunes fiom Cheeni one expert
acrobat will jump, lay and stand over the drum and beat the drum with a ball
of cloth tied on a rope.j The acrobat will beat the drum in several body
postures to the enjoyment of viewers. This art is also associated with nercha
festivals. Thls is an important item ofpettivaravtr in connection with nerchas.
4. Valiyakath Kuttiyali, "Cheenimutt", Mapvilakala Darpanam, Kottayam, 1998, p. 124.
5. Abdulla Perambra, "Anyam Nilkunna Mappilakalakal". Poonkavanam Monthly, Calicut, Aug. 1998, p.27.
History: Duffis an instrument which has an historical past. Before BC, 2000
itself, Israelites used the instrument called Duffat the worship of tribal gods in
order to raise their devotion to the e ~ t r e m e . ~ Later Europeans used tlus in the
festivals connected with churches during the procession of high priests as a
part of Christianisation of young children.' The Egyptians, called it Twara
and the Arabs called it Dubb and the Persians, Duff It was later commonly
used by all. The kufans called it DaJik Albania, Bosnians as DuffAsbani,
Bulgarians as Udqand Serbians as ~ e e r a . ' During the time of prophet, Duff
was used by the Muslims especially in Madeena. Prophet was welcomed to
Madina by Ansari girls singing songs and playing DufJ: In the first century
Hvra, Duffhad been widely used as an instrument for entertainment. In India,
Duf had been introduced by the Persians. When the renowned poet Amir
Khusrau, came to India, his disciples popularized this instrument in North
India. In Kerala, Duffhad been used by Jews and Christians in their festiva~s.~
When the first Muslim missionary to Kerala, Malik Ibn Dinar came, his
followers practised it. But Duff really became popular among the Kerala
I Muslims through the contact with Lakshadweep Muslims. The Qiidiripa Sujs
who migrated to Kerala, popularized it.
6. Abdulla Karuvarakundy "Duff Muttu", MaDDila kalakal, Manjeri, 1995, p.78.
7. Mohamad Koothali, "DuEMuttu", Ma~~ilakala Dar~anm. op.ci1.. 1998, p. 108.
8. Adullah, Karuvarakundu, op.cit., p.79.
9. Ibid., p.79.
The instrument: The Duffused by the Mappila Muslims of Malabar is round
in shape. A round wooden f'rame, which is covered by the leather (slun of ox)
stretched over it. The wooden frame is 6 inches height. To tighten the leather,
strings are used in the sides. To maintain the tone of Duff; it is frequently
warmed. Strings of Duff are to be adjusted in order to maintain uniform
Performance: Duff Mutt is started with Saliith and Hamd. At least 10 persons
participate at a time in which one will be ustiid (leader). After Saliith, the
players start to sound Duff in low voice. Then the players stand in two rows
holding the Dufin one hand and striking the Duflperiodically in accordance
with the tune of Bayth (Arabic poems). When the play progress the players
rotate the Duff through shoulder and above the head. Some times they use
elbow to strike the D u g All the movements are done simultaneously with
systematic order from ustad. But in DuffMutt the actual stress has been given
to recitation of Bayth. The Ustifd would loudly recite which will be repeated
by other members.'' Devotional songs and Madb (praising) songs are also
sung along with Bayth.
Occasions: DuffMutt is closely associated with ~iit;b" whch is performed in
Nerchas, devotion to dead saints. In RC?&. DzflMzdtt is performed in the dim
light of lamps, either in the premises of mosque or in the houses. ~?l t ib, a rite
10. C.K. Kareem, Kerala Muslim Directory, Cochin. 1997, Vol. I. p.66.
1 1. Ratib - A devotional rite in the name of dead saints.
performed to get the blessing of saints, popularized DuSf Mutt. The Dtrff'
Muttu in connection with RZtFb named R&b Muttu, started with fathzha, -
prayer to Prophet, Pious caliphs, Mohiyuddin shalkh, k f a i shaikh and other
Aulzyas. In Arabia girls used to perform Duff but in Kerala girls do not
perform thls art forms. Due to its association with religious occasions, girls
keep completely aloof from this art. The intermingled sound of Bayth and
Dtflgive a spiritual ecstasy to the devotees. Duff later became a common
item of nerchas in the procession called varuvu. In Calicut city, there were
professional Duff Muttu teams who roamed the city on the eve of Friday.
Kappat Syed Musliyar, Chekutty of Idiyangara, Imbichi Ahamad Musliyar of
Chemancheny were the famous DuffMutttr u s t Z i in and around calicut.12 In
the past years, Today Ratib is abandoned by the people and Duffinutt also
been dropped off. Only in stage shows, this cultural form can be seen.
Arabana was the name of a village in old Babylonia and the popular
musical instrument of that village came to be known as Arabana. Later this
instrument had been used by Arabs in their tribal festivals with songs and
dances. Arabana had been beaten to declare battle-c~y for the intertribal
battles. During the period of Abbasids, court musicians of Al-Mansur used
Arabana in their music programmes. During the reign of Harun-al-Rashid,
Arabana had been widely popularized. Later Shias inherited this instrument.
12. P.P. Msnlrnad Koya Parappil. Kozllikkotte Muslimkalude Charitram, Calicut 1991. pp.233.
When Adilshahi sultans ruled Deccan, some Shias came to Kerala and they
brought Arabana with them. Later Rfai ~arrqat introduced h s Arabana in
worshipping form of Ratib, to distinguish themselves from 'Qadiri Tariqat
who accepted Duff at the time of ~ s b . Mappilas of Malabar had fallen to so
many superstitions. It was believed that small pox, an epidemic, could be
averted by beating Arabana up to the border of their village and like wise in
order to purie those who recovered from small pox, Rifai Ratib with Arabana
beating was performed.13 There were so many groups who specialized in this
art throughout Malabar.
Instrument: Arabana is a larger form of Duff but in the construction there is
some difference. In a round wooden frame of 8 to 12 inches diameter and 5
inches height, leather (skin of ox) is tied over one...