What are the words used to describe women’s beauty in Sangam Tamil Literature?

What are the words used to describe women's beauty in Sangam Tamil Literature?

I am not sure about specific words that are used to describe women’s beauty. But, we can be sure that ancient Tamil Sangam Literature is more obsessed with the beauty of women. I feel that reviewing the similes handled by sangam poets to describe beauty of women will be more interesting.

Hence, In this answer I would like to quote and cite some(my fav) similes handled by Sangam poets to describe the beauty of women. Many poets of sangam period have handled several amazing similes to describe the beauty of women.

Chennaimemes 1
I keep wondering of the Ilango’s thought process, every time I read this poem!!!!!!! The poem from silambu as follows
தீம்-கதிர் வாள் முகத்தாள் செவ் வாய் மணி முறுவல்
‘வாங்கும் நீர், முத்து ‘, முத்து ஒ என்று, வைகலும், மால்-மகன் போல்
வருதிர், ஐய!
வீங்கு ஓதம் தந்து, விளங்கு ஒளிய வெண் முத்தம்;
விரை சூழ் கானல்
பூங் கோதை கொண்டு; விலைஞர் போல் மீளும்
புகாரே, எம் ஊர்.
Sir! Like the god of Love you come
and try each day to give us pearls.
Your pearls have not the brightness
of our dear lady’s spotless teeth
set between coral lips in her moon – white face.
We’re from Puhar where an ambitious sea
barters its brilliant pearls against our wreaths.
Above poem explains the beauty of women as that the pearl taken from your seas are not comparable to the whiteness of our women’s teeth. He describes that the teeth are set 
between the corals in moon.
Teeth – pearls
Lips – Corals
Face – Moon
Amazing comparison isn’t it?
Rivers in India are considered women and sea as their (lover) husband. Women’s beauty is compared to the beauty of cities. Though it may look strange today ,ancient people used this simile. If I compare a beautiful actress to the beauty of a big city today, people will laugh at me.
Many sangam poets like Nakkirar, Paranar , Kabilar, Mamular, Orampoki and Ammuvan compared the beauty of a woman to a city/town. Poet Nakkirar compares the beauty of a woman to Aruman’s small and beautiful village (Natrinai 367).
கூழுடை நல் மனைக் குழுவின இருக்கும்
மூதில் அருமன் பேர் இசைச் சிறுகுடி
மெல் இயல் அரிவை நின் பல் இருங்கதுப்பின்
குவளையொடு தொடுத்த நறு வீ முல்லைத்
And in another poem (358), he compares the beauty of a woman to Pandya’s town 
பெருஞ்சேய் இறவின் துய்த் தலை முடங்கல்
சிறு வெண் காக்கை நாள் இரை பெறூஉம்
பசும் பூண் வழுதி மருங்கை அன்ன என்
அரும் பெறல் ஆய் கவின் தொலைய
பிரிந்து ஆண்டு உறைதல் வல்லியோரே.
In a same way, poet Orampokiar compared a woman’s beauty to Choza town Amur (Ainkurunooru.56). Another woman was compared to Pandya’s port city Tondi by Ammuvan (Ainkurunooru.171).
Similar similes are handled by kalidasa too. Kalidasa used this simile in Raghuvamsam : Mithila is compared to a woman. Like a woman tolerates all that is done to her (by her husband) out of love, Mithila tolerated the army of Dasaratha. City of Ayodhya with its smoke from sandal is compared to women with their hair drying in the fragrant smoke. (Even though, this is not a part of sangam literature. I just wanted to mention it. )
அம் செங்கழுநீர் அரும்பு அவிழ்த்தன்ன. செங் கயல், நெடுங் கண் செழுங் கடைப் பூசலும்; கொலை வில் புருவத்துக் கொழுங் கடை சுருள, திலகச் சிறு நுதல் அரும்பிய வியரும்
In the above poem from silapathikaram, the poet Ilangoadigal describes the beauty of women as follows: “The corners of their eyes, long as oars,redden with anger till they seem purple lotus flowers and pearls of sweat gather on their brows.”
At one more instance Ilango describes women’s eyes as “கரிய மலர் நெடுங் கண் காரிகை”. A girl with eyes like a long black flower. This reminds me of the song from Ghazini movie in Tamil :-  Suttum Vizhi 
Although it is a well known fact, I would like to mention that sangam literature categorized women according to their age
பேதை – 5 to 7
பெதும்பை – 8 to 11
மங்கை – 12 to 13
மடந்தை – 14 to 19
அரிவை – 20 to 25
தெரிவை – 26 to 31
பேரிளம்பெண் – 32 to 40


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