Kathputli or Puppetry Art Form, Rajasthan

Puppetry

Kathputli or Puppetry Art Form

Puppetry is a traditional art form that Indians have connected with their heritage over the ages.  Rajasthan Kathputli dance is world famous and well known as Puppetry dance.

Kathputli is a string puppet theatre, native to Rajasthan, India. It is the most common form of Indian puppetry. Puppeteers manage the string doll by a single string. The string moves from the top of the puppet over the puppeteers.

History of Kathputli

PuppetryThe word ‘Kathputli’ is derived from two Rajasthani words ‘Kath’ meaning wood and ‘Putlia’ meaning a doll which has no life. Kathputli means a puppet. Artists make puppet completely from wood. However, artists make puppets out of wood, cotton cloth, and metal wire.Lead puppeteer delivers a shrill sound through a bamboo. This is a typical feature of this art form.

Some scholars think Kathputli art tradition is more than thousand years old. Rajasthan’s marvelous kathputli made India one of the first countries to create its traditional puppetry. Tribes of Rajasthan have been showing this art from the ancient times. It has grown to be an infinite part of Rajasthani culture and tradition. Scholars consider that around 1500 years ago, tribal Rajasthani Bhat community began the use of Kathputli.

Bhat community demand that their ancestors had played for royal families. They believe their ancestors have gained great reputation and fame from the rulers of Rajasthan. Due to the invasion of Rajasthan by the Mughals, Kathputli slowly lost its value. It has been one of the oldest forms of entertainment.

Kathputli or Puppetry Art Form, RajasthanToday Kathputli art is one of the most traditional arts of Rajasthan after Ghoomar. The shows launched problems like the dowry system, women’s empowerment, illiteracy, poverty, unemployment, and cleanliness. These puppet shows made people aware of the social problems. This art form also showed ways of solving them.

There are different types of Puppetry:

Glove Puppetry

Synonymously known as hand puppetry, this type includes small puppets with arms, a head, and a long attire. The puppeteer generally wears the puppets like gloves, skilfully managing their movements.

Rod Puppetry

Lightly larger than the glove puppets, this form of the art includes puppets managed by rods that are never noticeable to the audience. The art requires precision and mystery for the practitioners to pull it off.

Shadow Puppetry

Shadow-Puppetry
Shadow Puppetry

As is obvious from the name, shadow puppetry includes the use of puppets that are flat. Puppeteers project them onto a clear screen made from cloth.

In conclusion, people of Rajasthan are too much connected to their own culture and tradition. It is one of the reasons why the art of Kathputli and ‘Puppet Shows’ has still persevered.

Photo Courtesy: tholpavakoothu.in

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