Perumthachan also spelled as "Perunthachan" meaning (the master carpenter or the master craftsman) is an honorific title that is used to refer to an ancient legendary carpenter, architect, woodcarver and sculptor from Kerala, India. However Perumthachan is an important figure in the folklore of Kerala and many a wondrous structure and architecture that still stand are attributed to him.

The legend

Many legends of Perumthachan can be seen in Aithihyamala, the compilation of legends and folklore of Kerala written by Kottarathil Sankunni. According to legend, Perumthachan was born to a Brahmin father Vararuchi and a low caste, mother from the village of Thrithala. After the marriage, they set out on a long journey. During the course of the journey, the woman became pregnant several times, and every time she delivered a baby, the husband asked her whether it had a mouth or not. Each time she answered yes, Vararuchi asked her to abandon the baby saying that since it had a mouth it could somehow fend for itself in the world. Each of these babies were taken up by people belonging to twelve different castes. Thus each of these babies grew up in that particular caste, making the legendary Parayi petta panthirukulam or literally the twelve castes borne from the pariah woman. They all became famous in their lives and many tales and legends are attributed to them. The eldest was Agnihothri, a brahmin, whose place is Mezhathur in Trithala. The others are Pakkanar (basket weaver), Perumthachan (Master carpenter), Naranathu Bhranthan (an eccentric but divine person), Vayillakunnilappan (a child without mouth, whom the mother wanted to keep with her) and so on.

Since Perumthachan was taken up by parents who belonged to Carpenter caste, he mastered the art and science of carpentry and architecture. He read the sacred texts and mastered the ancient intellectual tradition. He was commissioned for many a great architectural projects to build temples and palaces. In course of time he became known as a reincarnation of the chief architect of the gods.

Perumthachan had a son who like him mastered and excelled in carpentry and architecture. His son soon excelled his own perfection. The renown of Perumthachan's son spread far and wide. This is said to have caused a sort of professional jealousy in Perumthachan. According to the Aithihyamala, Perumthachan dropped his chisel on his own son faking it as an accident.

Legend of Temple Pond

Perumthachan was once assigned to construct a temple pond. But it so happened that a dispute arose among three Karakkars (local residents) of the place about the shape of the pond, which was going to be constructed. One side wanted a rectangular pond, the second wanted a square pond, where as the third side the pond to be of a circular shape. Perumthachan agreed to construct a pond which would satisfy all the three demands. When the pond was constructed, the Karakkars from the three sides were happy to see their desired shape of the pond. It was so because the original shape of the pond was neither of these three but a highly irregular shape, which created an illusion .

The Shiva temple at Uliyannore and the Valluvanad temples that still exist in Kerala are attributed to Perumthachan.

Influence on Art & culture

The story of Perumthachan has been a source of artistic expression for various people. It has been the basis for a great malayalam dramatic monologue poem of the same name by G. Sankara Kurup. The legend of Perumthachan was also depicted in a malayalam cinema enacted by the malayali actor Thilakan. It was directed by Ajayan (1990) and won accolades for its cinematography and direction.

See also

External links

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