is a puppet tradition found in the Telugu speaking areas of South
India i.e. Andhra Pradesh and parts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
It has a long history, dating back at least 700 years, but little
is known of its form or its practitioners prior to the late 1950s,
when scholars first began to scrutinize it and publish their
findings. It is often referred to as a shadow puppet tradition but
it actually does not make use of shadows in the manner of the
shadow puppet traditions found in Southeast Asia.
puppets, often life-size or larger, are made from the dried skins
of goats. The skins, once dried, are translucent. This permits
light to pass through the puppets. As a result, when the puppets
are placed upon a white screen and a light is placed behind them,
the light passes through the puppets and they appear in full color
on the screen, an illumination rather than a shadow. The popular
themes in a Tolubommalata performance is Lanka
Dahanamu (the Burning of Lanka) and other episodes from
Ramayana. Most of the
Tolubommalata puppeteers are Marathi speakers, indicating a
profound influence of Marathi theatrical genres upon south Indian
and Telugu performing traditions. Tolubommalata had been performed
at marriages and at temples during Shivaratri and other festivals.