The Tübingen Tulu Manuscript
Two South Indian Oral Epics collected in the 19th Century. Edited and translated by Heidrun Brückner and Viveka Rai
In 1989, Heidrun Brückner and Viveka Rai discovered a manuscript in the Gundert estate of the Tübingen University library archives that turned out to be an oral text in the Dravidian Tulu language written down in an old form of the Kannada script. It can be assumed that it was collected in the 1840s for someone in the Basel mission, presumably either Herrmann Mögling or Gottfried Weigle, missionaries who were studying both Kannada and Tulu.
The manuscript contains two epic narratives that can be identified as paddanas, a popular oral genre in the Tulu language dealing with the lives and feats of local deities and heroes. The book presents on facing pages an edition of the texts in Roman transliteration with diacritical marks and an English translation of the texts. In an extensive introduction, the editors analyze and contextualize the two epics and sketch the history of research on oral Tulu literature from its beginnings to the present day. Narrative themes and stylistic features of the 19th-century texts are compared to other specimens of the genre collected in more recent times.
The book will be of interest to Indologists, South Asia anthropologists, Dravidologists, folklorists and scholars of oral narratives.