Thursday, 5 September 2013

Art Forms of Kerala



Gods own Country Kerala is rich in every aspect culture and traditions
dating back to centuries, there are many different art forms but here I present to you the most popular 5 art forms.

Mohiniyattam: Traditionally performed by women, it is linked with Vishnu as he took on the semblance of a beauty called Mohini in two mythological tales and was originated in 16th and 17th centuries and immortalized by raja Ravi Varma’s paintings familiar by solo dancers attired in white sari with golden border and elaborate hairstyle. The dance corresponds to varied chapters of Natyashastra which was written in 2 BCE. The modern form of this dance is indebted to the popular Guru Kalamandalam Kalyanikutti Amma.

Kalarippayattu: Kalarippayattu, Kalari denoting gymnasium/school and payattu meaning exercise and fight is an art form which can be traced back to 9th to 12th century, the credit for modern age Kalarippayattu goes to those soldiers who were used by the feudal lords to fight against the small kingdoms.
The process is spread over three stages including: Meippayat (movements to organize body), Kolthari (combating with sticks) and Ankathari (felicity in using metal weapons like daggers and swords). The weapons used generally are: otta (curled stick), urumi (a supple sword) and kettukari (long stick). Human marma and verum kai Prayogam (fighting with bare hands) are taught to the talented disciples and takes a decade to practice.
Kathakali: It is the most famed, stylized and youngest classical Indian dance drama which was originated in the 17th century. The literal meaning of Kathakali is story performance. The stories are taken from the epics such as Mahabharata. The Kathakali characters are distinguished according to their make-up and costumes which includes of:
Minukku: The colours used are yellow and red and resembles a devotee character. 
Paccha: Green colour is used for a heroic character.
Katti: It resembles an evil character.
Taadi: It means beard and symbolizes both evil and hero.
In Kathakali, the intricate costumes, magnificent make up resembling varied characters and gracious movements and gesticulations which are presented in melody to the synchronized whipping and commentator playback music are just awe-inspiring to watch. Since its commencement in the 17th century the various make ups, body movements, expression and themes has been modernized which makes it more popular among new generation nowadays.

Koodiyattam: Described by UNESCO as a “master piece” of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity”, for about 2000 years this art form has been giving expression to the deepest of human emotions including anger, frustration, happiness, joy using ancient Sanskrit text such as the plays of Bhasa. Traditionally it has been performed by the Chaakyaars (a splinter group of the Namboodiri Brahmin Caste) including male (Nambiars) and women (Nangiars) who today number no more than 200 members spread over seven families but till date. It is carried out on a stretch of 10-15 days engaging 2 to 3 hours a day and is performed in Koothambalam which is decorated using fruit bearing plaintains and bunch of soft coconuts.

 Maargamkali: Performed by 12 players bending in front of the lamp along with dancing at a space of 3 feet each focused on graceful body movements around the lamp, it is a Christian entrust exemplifying the journey of Maar Thoma all over India and the songs for Maargamkali are sung in 3 ways including long, short, and combination of broadening and cutting the song. Initially performed by men with simple costumes, in current times it is presented by females with decorated costumes and hands stippled with coloring.

Theyyam: Theyyam came from Devam (gods) and refers to attain supernatural power during performance flattering the demonstration of godly. A Theyyam artistes are usually from tribes (lower castes), it is an all male presentation danced to drums, cymbals and pipes with intricate masks, body paint, headgear and attire using some magnificent vibrant colours particularly the rich red. It is restricted to the northern hamlets of Malabar and the people watching this art form are equally vital as performer.
Apart from these art forms, there are other art forms which include Krishnanaattam, Chaakyaar Koothu etc. 

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