ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Gendering Art

Questions of Parity in Pentholppavakkooth

The all-women Pentholppavakkooth troupe is an attempt at challenging patriarchy not only outside but also within the art form of shadow puppetry in Kerala.

At least 2,000 years old, the shadow puppetry is an art form that mixes light and shadows, and could be considered as the forerunner of modern motion pictures. Tholpavaikoothu, practised in the northern parts of Kerala, is a variant of shadow puppetry which uses leather puppets. It is practised in other parts of the subcontinent too as Togalu Gombeyaata (Karnataka), Tholu Bommalata (Andhra Pradesh), Tholu Bommalattam (Tamil Nadu), Chamdyacha Bahuliya (Maharashtra), Ravana Chhaya (Odisha) and Chhaya Natak (Gujarat).

Tholpavaikoothu is a temple art form based on the Hindu myth of the fierce goddess Bhadrakali being consoled by Lord Shiva through a shadow puppetry screening of the Rama–Ravana battle that she had missed witnessing. The traditional version of Tholpavaikoothu stages all episodes from the Kamba Ramayana written by the Tamil poet Kambar, and the performance must take place on the stage, the Koothu Maadam, inside the temple precinct.

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Updated On : 14th Mar, 2023
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