Puppets in the hands of time

Indian PuppetsThere is a need to revive the art of Indian puppetry for posterity. True to its image as the world’s cultural melting pot, India has been the cradle of innumerable traditional art forms. The folk art forms across the country portray a vast spectrum of diversity in visual and performing arts. Shadow puppet is one such enchanting art form which was immensely popular before the advent of the electronic media entertainment. Puppets and puppet shows differ in form, style and presentation in each of the different states of India. listed below are the poppet show style from different states –

  • Andhra – Tholu Bommalata (tholu – leather, bommalata – puppet dance)
  • Assam & West Bengal – Putal-nach
  • Karnataka – Gombe aata (means – dance of dolls)
  • Kerala – Pava-kuthu (glove puppetry) and Thol pavakuthu (leather puppetry).
  • Maharashtra – Kalasutri Bahulya, (string puppetry), chamadyache Bahulya (shadow puppetry)
  • Orissa – Kundhei-nach), Shadow (Ravanachaya), Rod (Kathi Kundhei) and string (Gopalila kandhei) forms.
  • Rajasthan – Katputhli
  • Tamil Nadu – Bommalatam (string puppetry) and Thol Bommalattam (shadow puppetry).

Puppets style

Leather puppets are usually made up of goat skin which is cut to give the shape of the puppet characters. Legends like Lord Rama, Seetha, Hanuman, Krishna are popular among mythological characters. Traditionally, vegetable dyes were used to paint the puppets, giving them vivid and attractive colours. Small episodes are extracted from the great Indian epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata and are narrated to the audience with the combination of songs and folk music.

After the emergence of the new age media, this once popular show rapidly lost its popularity. These days, a few NGOs are trying to preserve this amazing form of art. It is important to introduce our younger generation to these art forms. Schools should encourage them to gain knowledge about these art forms by organizing the puppet shows and workshops in schools in order to nurture them for posterity.

– Fact File –



One life to live… travel, greenery, sunrise sunset, birds, animals, farms etc. Yes there are few things that really inspire me. Born in a small place in the womb of malnad and now based in Bangalore. Graduated from the University of mysore specialized in photography and design. Design earns my bread and photography quenches my thirst. At present working as design lead for an UK based MNC. Very nostalgic and love modern times too… Eager to make a farm based on Fukuoka’s theory of Natural farming (Do nothing agriculture). Really want to see the flying lizard in the forests of Western Ghats. Yes it is the same lizard mentioned in “Karvalo” by one of my favorite writer Puchanthe. Brazil and Jamaica are my dream destinations that one day I will visit for sure.

  • trishab

    Thank you for sharing this absorbing article. I have seen the famous Katputhli Nritya of Rajasthan! There is sometimes a supernatural essence about puppet shows … and wide-eyed puppets

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