Kathakali, the classical dance-drama
of Kerala, is based on mythological themes. Mythical characters
like the Devas, Asuras (the residents of heaven and earth representing
good and evil, respectively), apart from some bird and animal characters
can be represented only in larger than life, superhuman dimensions.
In Kathakali, the make-up creates the superhuman effect.
Kathakali the classical art form of Kerala is a spectacular blend
of dance, drama, mime and song and is over 300 year old. Presented
in the temple precincts after dusk falls, a Kathakali performance
is heralded by the Kelikottu or the beating of drums to the accompaniment
of the Chengila (gong).
One of the most exotic of the India's performing arts, Kathakali
demands years of rigorous training and lays great emphasis on complex
body movements and facial expressions. Therefore oil massages and
a separate folio of exercises for the eyes, lips, cheeks, neck and
the body form an integral part of the training, aiming at making
the body supple.
In addition to postures, movements and facial expressions the Kathakali
artiste narrates his story through hand gestures or mudras. There
are twenty four basic mudras in Kathakali, some of them having upto
thirty or forty interpretations. Until the beginning of this century,
Kathakali aspirants stayed with the guru or teacher to undergo a
twelve-year intensive training. Today, with the advent of formal
training centres, the Gurukula system has virtually disappeared.
The Kerala Kalamandalam is the most renowned centre for Kathakali
training besides others likeMargi.
It takes nearly three to four hours to complete the make-up which
is done in stages, and the duration varies according to the character
and complexity of the costume.
Theppu is the first stage where the artiste himself applies the
basic facial paintings. On this the Chuttikkaran (make-up man) puts
the Chutti which forms the second stage of make-up.
The Chutti plays a crucial role in differentiating the characters
and their personality and has the following basic classification:-
Pacha (green), Kathi (knife), Thadi (beard) and Kari (black). To
know more about each, see Chuvanna thadi in Kathakali .
All the colours used in the make-up are obtained from natural substances
and herbs. For example, the red and yellow colours are made by powdering
stones like Chaayilyam and Manayola respectively. A mixture of lime
and rice flour serves for white. The green colour is produced by
mixing Manayola and Neelam (blue). Coconut oil is used as the base
for mixing these stone powders. Another stone, Chenchilyam is powdered
and applied in order to protect the skin from burns. Kanmashi or
Kajal (the black substance) is prepared by burning gingelly oil.
Kumkumam or saffron is also used for the make-up. However, now-a-days
many of these colour mixing processes have been replaced by easily
available material like paper pulp etc.
Uduthukettu is the thrid stage in dressing. Stiff tapes of white
cloth is wound around the waist, with the help of others and are
bound together with another piece of cloth, the Kacha. Ulluvaal,
Puramvaal, Pattuvaal etc are the different cloth pieces used for
the elaborate bulky skirt of a Kathakali artiste. The anklets, colourful
and ornate vests, jewellery and the huge headgear complete the Kathakali
Other Arts of Kerala |
:Dance of Arjuna :Arjuna is said to have propitiated goddess Bhadrakaali
by a devotional presentation
Theeyattu :Ayyappan theeyattu performed at Sree Ayyappa temples
is one of the two classifications of the religious ritual art called
: A fine blend of social satire, mime and comedy, the Chakyarkoothu
is usually presented in the traditional temple theatre Koothambalam
in Kathakali :The vesham symbolically represents five classes,
Pacha (green) portrays noble protagonists, Kathi (knife) villainous,
thadi (beard), Kari (black) represents low characters and Minukku
(prettying up) women, sages, brahmins
: A Nangiyar women plays cymbal and occasionally recites the verses.
The musical element is very much suppressed in Koodiyattom
Thayambaka : It is a pleasure to watch the revered old man weave
magic with his hands moving in perfect synchronisation
: mask dance usually performed in the northern districts of Kerala
: The coloured powders used for the kalam are prepared from natural
: Kathakali the classical art form of Kerala is a spectacular blend
of dance, drama, mime and song and is over 300 year old
Training :They also have to undergo training in dance steps, body
movements, and the mudras or the art of conveying ideas and meanings
through hand gestures.
: The origin of Mohiniyattom is rooted in Hindu mythology. Legends
says that when the ocean of milk was churned to extract the elixir
of life and immortality, the demons made away with the divine brew
: A satirist, he is the man who brought literary wit and humour within
the ken of common man
: Pavakkathakali was so simple a version of the Kathakali
that it was welcomed by the illiterate, rural people for whom 'Kathakali'
was inaccessible owing to its complexity.
: Parichamuttukali is a group dance performed by men bearing swords
and shields and follows the movements and steps of Kalarippayattu.
: Paramparya is a curtain raiser to the treasure trove of the arts
and crafts tradition of India. The second annual exhibition was held
on the banks of Ashtamudi Lake
: The leading musicial instrument accompanying the art form is
called Parayan Chenda - a percussion instrument.
: Kadammanitta, Kadalimangalam, Neelamperur and Othara in Pathanamthitta
are famous for annual Patayani performances.
:Today, Thiruvathirakali has become a popular dance
form for all seasons.
:Yakshagana performers wear huge headgears, elaborate facial make-up,
colourful costumes and ornaments which together give a superhuman
appearance to the character presented.