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The characters in Kathakali are all mythological and so the question
of their make-up cannot be settled on a realistic basis. They all
have set modes of make-up and attire and adornment and are reduced
to five main types, according to their real character or qualities.
These types are usually known by the predominant color applied to
the face or its pattern. These are pacha (green), Kathi
(knife), thadi(beard), kari(black) and minukku(polished).
Virtuous and noble characters are in pacha.
Proud aggressive and unrighteous characters belong to the
kathi type. The bearded type known as thadi
are of three varieties. The most aggressive and demoniac
are known as chuvanna thadi (red beard), mythical and fabulous beings
like the monkey-gods are known as vellathadi(white beard);
aboriginals, forest-men and cave-dwellers are known as karutha thadi(black
beards). The lowest type of beings like the aggressor are classed
as kari(black). The gentle and spiritually inclined character (like
women, sages, Brahmins etc.) come under the type known as minukku
The costume and ornamentation are elaborate and designed to heighten
the superman effect. The large overcoats, the flowing scarves, the
bulging skirts, the antique ornaments, the stirkingly opulent headdresses
with streaming hair flowing down to the waist and covering the back-all
create enlarged figures well befitting the sculptured facial features
and produce tremendously impressive impersonations.