Different forms of Puppetry in India
- They are attached with two to five strings which are normally tied to the fingers of the performer, who manipulate the puppets.
- The very famous string puppets in India are Kathputli tradition of Rajasthan
- These puppets are carved from single piece of wood, and then covered with colourful long flowing skirt from waist and headgears.
- String puppets are also popular in Orissa, Karnatak and Tamil Nadu.
Figure: String puppets
- Famous examples of string puppets in Indian include: Kundhei (Odisha), Gombeyatta (Karnataka), Bommalattam (Tamil Nadu)
- Kundhei, Odisha: The string puppets of Orissa are known as Kundhei. Made of light wood, the Odisha puppets have no legs but wear long flowing skirts. They have more joints and are, therefore, more versatile, articulate and easy to manipulate.
Figure: Kundhei, Odisha
Gombeyatta, Karnataka: They are styled and designed like the characters of Yakshagana, the traditional theatre form of the region. Episodes enacted in Gombeyatta are usually based on Prasangas of the Yakshagana plays. The music that accompanies is dramatic and beautifully blends folk and classical elements.
- Bommalattam, Tamil Nadu: Puppets from Tamil Nadu, known as Bommalattam combine the techniques of both rod and string puppets. They are made of wood and the strings for manipulation are tied to an iron ring which the puppeteer wears like a crown on his head.
Figure: Bommalattam, Tamil Nadu
- They are made of cut out of leather and are flat in figures.
- Shadow puppets are pressed against the screen with a strong source of light behind it, the manipulation between the light and the screen make colourful shadows for the audience who sits in front of the screen.
- These puppets are popular in Orissa, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu
- Examples of shadow puppet in India include: Togalu Gombeyatta (Karnataka), Tholu Bommalata (Andhra Pradesh), Ravanachhaya (Odisha)
- Togalu Gombeyatta: The shadow theatre of Karnataka is known as Togalu Gombeyatta. These puppets are mostly small in size. The puppets however differ in size according to their social status, for instance, large size for kings and religious characters and smaller size for common people or servants
Figure: Togalu Gombeyatta (Karnataka)
- Tholu Bommalata: It is primarily from the state of AP. The puppets are large in size and have jointed waist, shoulders, elbows and knees. They are coloured on both sides. Hence, these puppets throw coloured shadows on the screen. The music is dominantly influenced by the classical music of the region and the theme of the puppet plays are drawn from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas.
Figure: Tholu Bommalata
- Ravanachhaya, Orissa: It is a puppet form from Odisha. The puppets are in one piece and have no joints. They are not coloured, hence throw opaque shadows on the screen. Apart from human and animal characters, many props such as trees, mountains, chariots, etc. are also used. Although, Ravanachhaya puppets are smaller in size-the largest not more than two feet have no jointed limbs, they create very sensitive and lyrical shadows.
- Rod puppets are an extension of glove puppets, they are much larger in size and often supported and manipulated by rods from below.
- These puppets are found in West Bengal and Orissa, in both these places puppets are connected with traditional folk performances.
- Examples of rod puppets in India include: Putul Nach (West Bengal), Yampuri (Bihar)
- Putul Nach
- They are carved from wood and follow the various artistic styles of a particular region.
- The Bengal rod-puppets are about 3 to 4 feet in height and are costumed like the actors of Jatra, a traditional theatre form prevalent in the State.
- The technique of manipulation is highly theatrical.
- A bamboo-made hub is tied firmly to the waist of the puppeteer on which the rod holding the puppet is placed.
- The puppeteers each holding one puppet, stand behind a head-high curtain and while manipulating the rods also move and dance imparting corresponding movements to the puppets.
Figure: Putul Nach, West Bengal
- Yampuri, Bihar
- The traditional Rod puppet of Bihar is known as Yampuri. These puppets are made of wood. Unlike the traditional Rod puppets of West Bengal and Orissa, these puppets are in one piece and have no joints.
- As these puppets have no joints, the manipulation is different from other Rod puppets and requires greater dexterity.
Figure: Yampuri, Bihar
- They are also known as sleeve, hand or palm puppets
- The head of the puppet is made of papier mache or cloth or wood with two hands emerging from just below the neck
- The rest of the body consists of a long flowing skirt. The movement of the puppet is controlled by the human hand.
- In India, traditional glove puppets are found in Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal and Kerala.
Figure: Glove puppets
- It is the traditional glove puppet form found in the state of Kerala. It came into existence during the 18th century due to the influence of Kathakali.
- The face of the puppet is decorated with paints, small and thin pieces of gilded tin, the feathers of the peacock, etc.
- The manipulator puts his hand into the bag and moves the hands and head of the puppet.
- The musical instruments used during the performance are Chenda, Chengiloa, Ilathalamand Shankha the conch. The theme for Glove puppet plays in Kerala is based on the episodes from either the Ramayana or the Mahabharata.
Figure: Pavakoothu- Glove puppet