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Volume 21 Number 3, June 1968

Volume 21 Number 3

Indian Puppets

The Creator, the Creation and the Sutradhara (Editorial)
Mulk Raj Anand and Meher Contractor

Various types of Traditional Puppets of India
Notes by Meher Contractor

1. Rajasthan

2. Orissa

3. South India
    a. String Puppets of South India
    b. Yakshaghana Puppets

4. Rod Puppets of Bengal

5. Glove Puppets of India

6. Shadow Puppets
    a. Shadow Play in Malabar
        K.B. Iyer
    b. Karnataka Shadows
    c. Andhra Shadows

7. Contemporaries:
    a. The Darpana Academy, Ahmedabad
    b. Contemporary Puppeteers

The Creator, the Creation and the Sutradhara [Editorial]
Anand, Mulk Raj and Contractor, Meher
Vol. 21 No. 3, June 1968, pp. 2-4

The antiquity of puppetry is perceived through philosophical concepts in ancient literature, such as sutradhara (puller of strings); antaryami (holder of strings); and prakriti (in the Sankhya system) which began to be used to mean a puppet. References in the Tamil literature of 200 BCE, and in Malayalam, show that puppetry flourished as an intimate part of social life, particularly in villages. The disintegration of the village economy led to a radical alteration of the old conventions under which craftsmen were supported by villagers. However, after independence, a rejuvenation of the puppet theatre has been initiated particularly through the efforts of Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya. Although the fundamental themes of puppetry remain the same, it is essential to make it a medium of contemporary imagination.

Various Types of Traditional Puppets of India
Contractor, Meher
Vol. 21 No. 3, June 1968, pp. 5-43

The types of puppets found in India are the string puppets of Rajasthan, Orissa, Baswanappa, and the south; rod puppets of Bengal and the south; shadow puppets of Orissa, Malabar, Andhra, and Karnataka; and glove puppets of Madras, Kerala, and the tribes of Malabar. The Handicrafts Board of the Government of India and the Bharatiya Natya Sangh (New Delhi) have played an important role in the revival of the art. Keywords Topical: Puppets and Puppetry

Rajasthan
Vol. 21 No. 3, June 1968, pp. 6-7

The kathputlis (string puppets) of Rajasthan are made and operated by the nomadic Bhatt community of Marwar. The article describes the stage, form, performance, and themes of the puppet dance. Kathputli art declined from the Mughal period, but recent efforts have been made for its revival.

Orissa
Vol. 21 No. 3, June 1968, pp. 8-9

Glove, rod, and shadow puppets exist alongside the string puppets of south Orissa. The string puppets are well-designed and elaborately clothed. The usual themes of the puppet shows are stories from Krishna's life. Lack of patronage has limited string puppet performances to fairs and festivals.

South India
Vol. 21 No. 3, June 1968, pp. 10-15

The article describes string puppet forms and performance of the Tanjavur district and Karnataka. The puppets of Tanjavur district, known as Bomalattam, possibly date back to 200 BCE. They saw a revival during the 19th century. The Kumbakonam brothers Shri Krishnamurthi and Shri G.S. Mani, and their sons, are the most well-known protagonists of the art. The Yakshagana puppets of Karnataka seem to have existed since the 9th century, but in 1928 a fire destroyed all the huts and all the puppets, save one by the legendary puppeteer and teacher Katavi Basvanappa (1820-1912). The only living puppeteer is the 80-year-old Padmanabhan Kamath.

Rod Puppets of Bengal
Vol. 21 No. 3, June 1968, p. 16

The article describes puppet form and performance in Bengal. The puppets are called putul nautch (dancing dolls). The themes are derived from the Mahabharata, the stories of Manasa (the snake goddess), and Radha-Krishna.

Glove Puppets of India
Vol. 21 No. 3, June 1968, pp. 17-19

Glove puppets are found in Orissa, Kerala, Madras State, and among the tribes of the Malabar coast. The making of the puppets, and their performance are elaborated upon. The puppet plays of Orissa were commonly known as Gopa Lila, as they relate anecdotes from the life of Krishna and Radha. The puppets of the Malabar coast were used more for magical tribal rituals. Kerala produces the best glove puppets of India, and the themes are always from the Mahabharata. The glove puppets from Thiruchendoor (Madras) centre around Subramanya, the brother of Ganesha.

Shadow Puppets
Vol. 21 No. 3, June 1968, pp. 20-32

Shadow puppets are found in India almost all along the south and eastern shores: from Kerala and Karnataka, through Andhra Pradesh, up to Orissa. The shadow puppet plays of Orissa are known as Ravana Chhaya, their theme being the Ramayana. The puppets along the southern and Karnataka coastline are called Pavai Kuthi (women's dance) and Chakkla Gombai Atta. Both these shows are performed outside Shaivite temples. The Ola Pavai Kuthu of the Malabar coast, similar to the Pavai Kuthu, is now extinct.

Contemporaries
Vol. 21 No. 3, June 1968, pp. 33-43

Profiles of Shri Padamanabhan Kamath, Shri Achariyalu, the Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal in Udaipur, Shri Raghunath Goswami and Uma Goswami, Shri Suresh Dutta, the Literacy Centre in Lucknow, the Shukla brothers, Shri Madhulal Master, Bharatiya Natya Sangh in Delhi, Shreyas School in Ahmadabad, Shri Chitto Prasad, and Shri Prasanna Rao.