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Avvai or Avvaiyar (the suffix is an honorific) was probably the name of more than one Tamil mystic poet, since the dates of the poems attributed to her vary widely. Probably the first Avvaiyar lived during the Sangam period (c. first and second century CE) at the time of the Tamil chieftains, Pari and Athikaman. She wrote fifty nine poems collected in the Purananuru. The second Avvaiyar lived in the thirteenth century during the Chola period. She is probably the author of many of the short didactic or aphoristic poems attributed to this composite figure. One of the stories about her (or one of her) says that she was found as a child in an inn near Tiruchinapalli. Though never educated, she sang exquisitely, and was famed as a seer and mystic, as ‘she who sang for a cup of porridge’. There may also have been a third Avvaiyar.
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