Kuruvanji forms part of the characteristic Tamil literature in poetry and song. The earliest ‘Kuruvanji’ composed by Thirukutarajappa Kaviyar about 300 years ago was the ‘Kutrala Kuruvanji’. Kuavanji is considered a variety of smaller prabhandha that developed in medieval period (about 17 cent AD) in Tamil literature. It is one of 96 prabhandha-s and belongs to Natakatamizh. Such plays as “Kuttrala Kuravanji” and “Azhagar Kuravanji” are considered as being of great literary value.
The term “Kuravanji” refers to a woman born in “kuravar” (gypsy) family. In Kuravanji dramas, the Kurati woman plays an important role. The main theme of Kuravanji is human love towards God and other human. In other instances the Kuruvanji or gypsy is introduced as the fortune-teller or soothsayer, which foretells whether or not the heroine will win the love of her beloved.
A Kuruvanji performance is an intermix of folk and classic aspects of theatre. Kuruvanji is performed in dance ballet form with Bharatanatyam techniques. Kuruvanji dance ballets have been most successfully performed by Pandanallur Meenakshisundaram Pillai’s troupe, Nattuvanar Sri Dhandayudhapani Pilai, Rukmani Devi Arundale, Balasaraswati, Mrinalini Sarabhai and others.
Azhagar Kuravanji (1840), Kutrala Kuravanji, Sendil Kuravanji, Viralimalaik Kuravanji, Sarabhendra Bhupala Kuravanji, Tyageshar Kuravanji, Devendra Kuravanji and Kumbesar Kuravanji are some of the popular Kuravanji dramas.