Kathakali[കഥകളി ]

Kathakali roots are unclear. The fully developed style of Kathakalī originated around the 17th century, but its roots are in the temple and folk arts (such as krishnanattam and religious drama of the kingdom of the Zamorin of Calicut) southwestern Indian peninsula), which are traceable to at least the 1st millennium CE.A Kathakali performance, like all classical dance arts of India, synthesizes music, vocal performers, choreography and hand and facial gestures together to express ideas. However, Kathakali differs in that it also incorporates movements from ancient Indian martial arts and athletic traditions of South India.Kathakalī also differs in that the structure and details of its art form developed in the courts and theatres of Hindu principalities, unlike other classical Indian dances which primarily developed in Hindu temples

Kathakalī has lineages or distinctive schools of play interpretation and dance performance called Sampradayam. These developed in part because of the Gurukul system of its transmission from one generation to the next.By the 19th-century, many such styles were in vogue in Malayalam speaking communities of South India, of which two major styles have crystallized and survived into the modern age….

The Kidangoor style is one of the two, that developed in Travancore, and it is strongly influenced by Kutiyattam, while also drawing elements of Ramanattam and Kalladikkotan.It is traditionally attributed to Nalanunni, under the patronage of Utram Tirunal Maharaja (1815-1861).

The Kalluvazhi style is second of the two, which developed in Palakkad (Olappamanna Mana) in central Kerala,and it is a synthesis of the older Kaplingadan and Kalladikkotan performance arts. It is traditionally attributed to Unniri Panikkar, in a Brahmin household (~1850), and became the dominant style established in Kerala

History of kathakali….

Elements and aspects of Kathakalī are taken from ancient Sanskrit texts such as the Natya Shastra. The kathakali is attributed to sage Bharata, and its first complete compilation is dated to between 200 BCE and 200 CE, but estimates vary between 500 BCE and 500 CE.

The most studied version of the Natya Shastra text consists of about 6000 verses structured into 36 chapters.

The text, states Natalia Lidova, describes the theory of Tāṇḍava dance (Shiva), the theory of rasa, of bhāva, expression, gestures, acting techniques, basic steps, standing postures – all of which are part of Indian classical dances including Kathakali. Dance and performance arts, states this ancient Hindu text, are a form of expression of spiritual ideas, virtues and the essence of scriptures.



The roots of Kathakalī are unclear. Jones and Ryan state it is more than 500 years old. Kathakalī emerged as a distinct genre of performance art during the 16th and 17th centuries in a coastal population of south India that spoke Malayalam (now Kerala). The roots of Kathakalī, states Mahinder Singh, are more ancient and some 1500 years old.



Krishnanattam is the likely immediate precursor of Kathakalī, states Zarrilli.Krishnanattam is dance-drama art form about the life and activities of Hindu god Krishna, that developed under the sponsorship of Sri Manavedan Raja, the ruler of Calicut (1585-1658 AD).The traditional legend states that Kottarakkara Thampuran (also known as Vira Kerala Varma) requested the services of a Krishnanattam troupe, but his request was denied. So Kottarakkara Thampuran created another art form based on Krishnanattam, called it Ramanattam because the early plays were based on the Hindu epic Ramayana, which over time diversified beyond Ramayana and became popular as ‘Kathakali’.



Another related performance art is Ashtapadiyattom, a dance drama based on the Gita Govinda of the twelfth-century poet Jayadeva, told the story of Krishna embodied as a humble cowherd, his consort Radha, and three cow girls.Kathakali also incorporates several elements from other traditional and ritualistic art forms like Mudiyettu, Theyyam and Padayani besides folk arts such as Porattu Nadakam that shares ideas with the Tamil Therukoothu tradition.The south Indian martial art of Kalarippayattu has also influenced Kathakali

Over five hundred Kathakalī plays (Aattakatha) exist, most of which were written before the 20th century. Of these, about four dozen are most actively performed.These plays are sophisticated literary works, states Zarrilli, and only five authors have written more than two plays.The late 17th century Unnayi Variyar, in his short life, produced four plays which are traditionally considered the most expressive of the Kathakali playwrights. Typically, his four plays are performed on four nights, and they relate to the mythical Hindu love story of Nala and Damayanti.The Nala-Damayanti story has roots in the texts of 1st millennium BCE and is found in the Mahabharata, but the Kathakali play version develops the characters, their inner states, the emotions and their circumstances far more than the older texts.



A tradition Kathakalī play typically consists of two interconnected parts, the third-person Shlokas and first-person Padams. The Shlokas are in Sanskrit and describe the action in the scene, while Padams are dialogues in Malayalam (Sanskritized) for the actors to interpret and play.A Padam consists of three parts: a Pallavi (refrain), Anupallavi (subrefrain) and Charanam (foot), all of which are set to one of the ancient Ragas (musical mode), based on the mood and context as outlined in ancient Sanskrit texts such as the Natya Shastra. In historic practice of a play performance, each Padam was enacted twice by the actor while the vocalists sang the lines repeatedly as the actor-dancer played his role out.

Kathakali is known as the festival of kerala…

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