Kathakali can be dated back to 2nd century in the form of “ancient ritual plays of Hindu temples and various dance forms” in the state of Kerala in South-West India. Kathakali is essentially a dance-drama which is based on the Indian epics – “Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Bhagavata Purana” [Kathakali, S. Balakrishnan (2004) Wisdom Tree]. The technique is from the ancient Sanskrit treatise Natya Shastra, of Bharata Muni, also called the fifth Veda. The costumes and make up are from Aryan and Dravidian cultures. Technique
A Kathakali actor goes through a training regime that lasts 10-12 years and starts when you are 10 to 14 years of age in the monsoon month of June. The disciple offers a dakshina or offering of betel leaves, arecanut and some coins in token of the acceptance of teachership to the guru [Kathakali, S. Balakrishnan (2004) Wisdom Tree]. One technique they have to learn about is the Mudras. It can be divided into “Asamyutha Mudras” which uses one hand and “Samyutha Mudras” which uses both hands and this form together to make up the Basic Mudras [A guide to Kathakali, D.Botland (1996) Sterling Publishers Pvt Ltd.]. These have different meanings from different characters and they are found in a book called the Hasthalakshana Deepika which is used by all Kathakali actors and has an unknown author. Costume and Make Up
Costume is used to transform the body of an actor into a circular and hemispherical shape. The headdress is circular and the skirt is hemispherical. Although made of light wood, this extraordinary headdress is extremely heavy, and adds very considerably to the weight of the costume that a Kathakali actor has to wear for hours on end in a very hot and humid climate [A guide to Kathakali, D.Botland (1996) Sterling Publishers Pvt Ltd.]. Silver nails on the fingers make them longer and make the movements clearer. The colours mean different moods and sentiments such as: Green represents sringara or love, red...
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