Theatre as a form of entertainment is found practically in all
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.
are basic four kinds of puppets - glove, string, rod and shadow.
The glove puppets are found mainly in Orissa, Kerala and Tamil
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.
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