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THEATRE IN INDIA

PUPPETRY IN INDIA

Puppet Theatre as a form of entertainment is found practically in all parts of the world. In Puppet Theatre various forms, known as puppets, are used to illustrate the narratives.  In India, the roots of the puppet theatre lie in a dancer's mask.  There are several Mesolithic paintings that illustrate a number of masked dancers performing singly or in groups.  Excavations at several Harappan sites have revealed a number of toys whose body parts can be manipulated with strings.  There are numerous references to different kinds of puppets in the Mahabharata and a Buddhist work called Therigatha.

There are basic four kinds of puppets - glove, string, rod and shadow. The glove puppets are found mainly in Orissa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. These puppets are worn on the hand and the puppeteer manipulates their heads and arms with his fingers. The puppeteer narrates his story in verse or prose, while the puppets provide the visual treat. The glove puppet in Orissa is called Kundhei Nacha.  The glove puppets of Kerala are more ornate, colourful and resemble the actors on the Kathakali stage in their make-up and costume. Their performance is known as Pava Koothu or Pava Kathakali. The stories of this theatre are mainly Radha - Krishna stories and episodes from the Ramayana.

String puppets are found in Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. In this, the stress is more on the manipulative skill of the puppeteer. The Kataputali shows of Rajasthan, the Sakhi Kundhei of Orissa, the Putla Nach of Assam, Malasutri Bhaulya of Maharashtra, Bommalattam of Tamil Nadu and Gombeyatta of Karnataka fall under this category.  The Putual Nach of West Bengal and the Kathi Kundhei of Orissa are the best examples of rod puppetry in India.



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