Kerala owes its transnational fame to this nearly 300 years old classical dance form which combines facets of ballet, opera, masque and the pantomime. It is said to have evolved from other performing arts like Kootiyattam, Krishnanattam and Kalarippayattu. Kathakali explicates ideas and stories from the Indian epics and Puranas.
Presented in the temple precincts after dusk falls Kathakali is heralded by the Kelikottu or the beating of drums in accompaniment of the Chengila (gong). The riches of a happy blending of colour, expressions, music, drama and dance is unparallelled in any other art form.
Kathakali Make-up Costume is elaborate with the face painted up. Great importance is laid on the Vesham or make-up which are of five types - Pacha, Kathi, Thadi, Kari and Minukku.
The pomp and magnificence of Kathakali is partly due to its decor part of which is the kireetam or huge headgear and the kanchukam the over sized jackets, and a long skirt worn over a thick padding of cushions. The identity of the actor is completely mutilated to create a super human being of larger-than-life proportion.
Pacha (Green) Pacha Vehsam or the green make-up portray noble protagonists.
Thadi (Beard) There are three types of bearded or Thadi Veshams. "Vella Thadi" or White beard for superhuman monkeys like Hanuman. "Chuvanna Thadi" or Red beard is for evil characters. "Karutha Thadi" or Black beard for the hunter.
Kari (Black) Kari Vesham is used for she-demons.
Minukku (Prettying Up) The "Minukku Vesham" is used for female characters and sages.
Mudra Mudra is a stylized sign language used to depict an idea, a situation or a state of being. A Kathakali actor enacts his ideas through mudras. For this he follows a systematic sign language based on Hastalakshana Deepika, a treatise on the language of hand gestures.
Kathakali Music The orchestra is formed of two varieties of drums - the maddalam and chenda; the chengila which is a bell metal gong and the ilathalam or cymbals.
Kathakali Training Students of Kathakali have to undergo rigorous training replete with oil massages and separate exercises for eyes, lips, cheeks, mouth and neck. Abhinaya or expression is of prime importance as is nritya or dance and geetham or singing.
Together with highly evocative facial expressions, the mudras and the music both vocal and instrumental, Kathakali unfolds stories from a bygone era in a lofty style reminiscent of the Greek plays. Kerala Kalamandalam , is the prominent institution imparting Kathakali training in the traditional way.
Kakkarissi natakom is a satirical dance-drama based on the puranic legends of Lord Siva and his consort Parvati when they assumed human forms as Kakkalan and Kakkathi - a nomadic tribe of fortune tellers.
Kathakali is a highly stylized classical Indian dance-drama noted for its attractive make-up of characters, their elaborate costumes, detailed gestures and well-defined body movements presented in tune with the anchor playback music and complementary percussion.
Koothu is a socio-religious art performed in the Koothambalam or the Koothuthara of temples, either independently or as part of Kootiyattam. It is a solo narrative performance interspersed with mime and comic interludes.
A spectacle for both the scholar and the simple rustic. The visual effect is enhanced by varied and colourful facial make-up with larger-than-life-masks, made of light wood and cloth padding, for certain characters.
Kutiyattam literally means "acting together". This is the earliest classical dramatic art form of Kerala. Based on Sage Bharatha's 'Natyasasthra' who lived in the second century, Kutiyattam evolved in the 9th century AD.
Margomkali is a ritual folk art of the Syrian Christians of Kottayam and Thrissur districts. A dozen dancers sing and dance around a lighted wick lamp ( Nilavilakku ), clad in the simple traditional white dhoti and sporting a peacock feather on the turban to add a touch of colour.
Mohiniyattam is the most enchanting classical dance form of Kerala. It is a traditional dance form practiced by the beautiful womenfolk of the state. ‘Mohini’ means the Celestial beauty and ‘attam’ means her dance and hence the term ‘Mohiniyattam’ literally means the dance of the celestial enchantress. It is a ‘lasya’- the feminine charm, oriented dance form.
Enchanting Kerala � 2009 GREEN Cochin.All rights reserved. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission.