Kathakali: An expressive tale

4 shares, 32 points

By : Rakesh Bhardwaj

IIP Foundation, under its initiative of “Documentation of Indian Heritage and Culture” has brought forward a traditional tale in a form of Indian Classical Dance “Kathakali”.

Kathakali is known for its colorful make-up, magnificent dresses and face mask. Kathakali is an art of expression rather than a dance, its a story telling act by hand expression, legs tap and eyes movement. The interesting part of Kathakali you all should be aware of, that is, the dancers or performers wearing gorgeous dresses with highly make-up, they all are male performers. In modern India we could find some female kathakali performers also but the tradition is for male performers only.

Kathakali was developed first in southwestern region of India. There are not the clear facts about its origination but we could easily find its fully developed style in 17th century.

The term Kathakali is derived from ‘Katha’ which means “story or a conversation and Kali is ‘Kala’ which means “performance and art”. Although Kathakali is also the same as every traditional dance of India but it is different in its style as it incorporates few movements from the ancient martial arts and athletic traditions of south India.

In kathakali costume is elaborate with the face painting. This is not just for art but great importance is laid on the make-up which are of five types –

  • Pacha- Pacha Vehsam means the green make-up. It portrays noble protagonists                      
  • Kathi- means Knife portrays villainous characters.                                      
  • Thadi- means beard which different colors portrays different characters                                    
  • Kari- means black is used for she-demons                                                                                     –
  • Minukku- is used for female characters and sages

As already it is mentioned that Kathakali is a story tale than a dance so the main theme of this performance are folk mythologies, religious legends and spiritual ideas from the Hindu epics and the Puranas. Kathakali is also affected with the modern changes and so it has adapted western stories and plays of Shakespeare and Christianity though this is the origin of Hindu religion.

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