A very clear demarcation can be made between dance styles and dance-drama forms, especially in the context of Bharatanatyam and Ivathak. It is, however, not so easy to make such a demarcation in a style like the contemporary Kathakali, which is the culmination of a long process of evolution and assimilation of different theatricalforms prevalent in South India. It is not a solo dance ast he contemporary Bharatanatyam: neither is it a court dance like Kathak, nor lyrical like Manipuri. Instead, the most strildng element in Kathakali is its overwhelming dramatic quality; gods and heroes, demons and spirits appear from another world in costumes and headgears which are awe inspiring and belong exclusively to a world of myth and legend. This dramatic style evolved from the many dance traditions prevalent in the southwestern coastal region of India. From earliest tunes, Kerala has been the home ofinnumerable performing arts. Amongst these, some are purely ritualisttc in character. They invoke deities, particular spirits, heroes of gone-by days. Attired in costtunes made horn arecanut and palm-leaves with heavy paints on their faces, men are transformed into gods and demons. Sometimes, it is Darika who was killed by Kali as in Mudiyettu. At other times, it is different forms of the GoddessBhagavatiwho appearsin astounding and staggering splendouring attire as in varied forms ofthe Teyyams. Yet at other times, the deity is first painted on the floor and then the story is enacted by actors to the accompaniment of drums and pipes and a vast variety of other musical instruments. All these, the Kuttus, theAttains and the Bhagavati and the Kali forms are prevalent in Kerala specially in Cannanore and adjoining districts. There are special locations where the Teyyams, the Aiyappan worship and other dramatic rituals are performed. The elaborate make-up on the faces of these actors, who are deified for the duration of the performance, is a class by itself. Perhaps, the elaborate make-up and stylisation of Kathakali can be traced back to this rich and vibrant tradition of ritual forms where deification ofthe actor took place. Alongside wasthe evolution ofa highly sophisticated and stylised form of theatre in Kerala called Kudivattain. The history ofthis form can be traced back to the ninth and tenth centuries.
It is considered the most important living link with techniques of the performance employed in Sanskrit plays. It is also the beginning ofmany new and important trends in Indian theatre. From the days of Kulasliekhar to the performers ofthe twentieth century, such as Mani Madhava Chakyar and Aminanur Madhava Chakyar, the tradition has been sustained by a particular family traditions. For the first tune, in contrast to Sanskrit theatre in Ivudiyattam, one of the characters i.e. the Vidushaka began to play a very importantrole in theperformance. Heused the local language, namelyMalayalam, in contrast to the other characters. While the Sanskrit words were recited and chanted and comnumicated by the heroine and the hero, theVidushaka rendered hislinesinMalayalam. Itwas histaskto bridge the gapbetween classical Sanskrit spoken by the hero and the regional language or dialect understood by the audience. He was also the bridge between the past and the present. As in other theatrical forms, the actor spoke the lines sometimes preceding the movement ofthe body, sometimes coinciding and sometimesfollowing. The enunciation and the intonation of words was slow, stylised, reminiscent of the chanting of the Vedas. The actor performed angika abhinaya to the word or the line, or the phrase. Sometimes, the actor elaborated on theverbal, theVachika; he interpreted and improvised. Plays lasted for many days because the actor was given the fullest freedom to weave any number ofinterpretations on the basic poetic line. There was provision hi the dramatic structure for the actor to switch back to one of his earlier incarnations to move freely in time past and present and even to indicate the future. In kinetic terms, this meant the evolution ofa highly intricate and developed language of gestures. The dramatic structure and the stylised techniques of gestures especially through the hands and through the eyes were so perfected that often the gesture was mistaken for the act. There is a story about a famous Chakyar who showed throwing ofa heavy stone at one ofhis opponents. The enactment was so effective, the energy and the force put into the movement wasso great, that halfthe audience fled in sheerfrightThe Kudiyattam traditions preceded those of Kathakali and were in no small measure responsible for the highly developed language of gestures specially of the face and the hands so typical of Kathakali. Movements in Teyyarns and the Tirayattam were pure dance patterns without content. Masks and face paint were common to these dances, performed in obeisance to different forms of the goddess, especially in forms such as the Mudiyettu, the Kolam Tullal, etc.
Thus both Kudiyattam and the ritual forms contributed to the evolution ofKathakali. A third and final source wasthe variety ofmartial dances known to Kerala. Kerala is famous even today for its numerous martial dances and the kalaris (gymnasium) are remarkable for the physical skills and acrobatics. The excellent body-training of Kathakali dancers, the massaging system and the fantastic leg extensions, jumps and leaps in the technique havebeenassimilated fromthesenumerousforms ofdramatic spectacle including a healthy tradition of acrobatics, fencing, etc. While the kuttus, tullals, attains, Bhagavati and Kali forms contributed to aspects of contemporary Kathakali, it emerged as an independent, highly formalistic, dance-drama form only in the seventeenth century. Two kings gave Kathakali its present form. The origin ofKathakali is attributed to the Zamorin ofCalicut in the seventeenth century. A devotee ofKrishna, he wrote plays known asKrishnattamwhichwerepatterned onthe lyrics oftheGitaGovindabyJayadeva. The Kishnattam plays designed to be performed for eightsuccessive nights, were serialized to present a different episode from the life of Krishna each day. According to legend, it is believed that the Raja of Kottarakara requested the Zamorin ofCalicut to send histroupe to Travancore to perform Krishnattam. The Zamorin is said to have refused. The result of his refusal was extraordinary. It is believed that the Raja ofKottarakara began to write a series ofeightplays about Ramawhich were called Ramanattam as distinctfrom the Kiishnattam. By some accounts, it appears that these plays were staged at the court of the Raja of Kottarakara in the latter halfofthe seventeenth century. Some scholars however believe that this may have happened earlier. In any case, whether it was as a reaction to the Zamorin ofCalicut’srefusal or itwas an independent creative urge, a form which was to be the true precursor of Kathakali evolved. A new movement was thus heralded. Krishnattam had used Sanskrit profusely. Ramanattam was written in Malayalam event if it was highly Sanskritized Malayalam. The blend known as Manipravala to Kerala literature wTas used and this wras admirably suited to the stage. Some people are ofthe viewr that initially the actors ofthe Ramanattam plays also spoke and sang their lines like their Kudiyattam counterparts.
A fewr scholars believe that actors spoke their own lines, did gesticulation, wore wooden masks like the Krishnattam players. Whether this is true or not, it would appear that very soon the enunciation by the actors of the lines gave place to the actors restricting themselves to elaborate miming (angika abhinaya) and the musicians singing the lyrics. Gradually, this acting without word or pantomime wTas further refined; eventually it reached a sophistication witich wTe recognise as Kathakali. The music had a very specific libretto winch wras sung; it was accompanied with instrumental music and percussion. The two together, the vocal and instrumental, wrere and are integral to dramatic spectacle. As in Bharatnatyam, the musical structure of the dramatic plays determined the dance structure. Passages ofpure dance were introduced in full measure. Basically, however, the dramas, nowr called the attakathas, were the foundation on which the dramatic structure wras built. Many waiters especially lryaman Tampi were the waiters of dance drama now called Kathakali. The themes were no longer the stories ofKrishna or Rama; they were chosen from the Mahabharata, from the Bhagavata Purana, from the Siva Parana, and from the vast body ofmythological themes knowai to Indian literature in their special Kerala versions. Many waiters, apart from the Raja ofKottarakara and Kottayam, wrote plays which have become the basis of the contemporary Kathakali repertoire. The more notable amongst these are those ofKartikTirunal, Ashvati Tirunal of Travancore, Vidvan Koel Tampuran and, of course, the famous Unnayi Warrier. lryaman Tampi’s play such as the Kichak Vadham, Daksh Yagna, Sita Sivaycimavaram, are danced repeatedly today. Swati Tirunal, Rama Varma, Maharajas of Travancore patronized the art and gradually two distinct schools ofKathakali emerged, one ofthe South and the other ofthe North. This new drama or theatre was a perfect blend of all types of enacting, verbal, kinetic, decor and make-up. Its structure was rigorous and complete; nevertheless, itwas populartheatrebecause it could be presented outside the precincts ofthe temple. From the courtyard ofthe temples, it travelled to the courts and eventually to the villages, the fields and the open spaces and, of course, ultimately to the stage. Many factors contributed to make the evolution ofKathakali possible. Kathakali perfected and further refined the gesture language known to Kudiyattam; it drew upon the ritual traditions such as the Teyyams, Mudiyattam, etc.; it assimilated and refined the martial techniques into stylised art. It was indirectly influenced by the advent ofVaishnavism in Kerala and the Gita Govinda tradition.
Even when Kathakali flowered profusely and was the most popular, the tradition of Kudiyattam on one side and Kiishnattam on the other continued. Kathakali was a new eclectic entrant. All subscribed to the principle ofNatyadhaimi tradition of Sanskrit theatre. The rich body of Malayalam literature, the several types of literary compositions and dramatic writing provided the theatre artistes and the dramatists with new themes and new inspiration. i\ll these accumulatively gave rise to the art form we call Kathakali. By the seventeenth century, Kathakali had begun to hold its own and be recognised as major dramatic theatrical spectacle, which was being constantly enriched through new themes and great individual acting. Texts The textual evidence supports the view that numerous regional styles were prevalent in the area, all of which seem to have departed somewhat from the tradition of Bharata. Judging from some of the commentaries on the Silappadikaram, and Sangitaratnakara, it appears that dramatic forms also had undergone change. These also indicate, however, thata distinctionwasmaintained between the pure natya forms and the pure dance forms. Words like Koottu, desi nritya, desi lasyanga and desi karana came into usage between the thirteenth and the seventeenth centuries, and appear hi innumerable texts on dance and drama forms written in South Indian languages.The most important texts such as Balarama Bharatam written by Balarama Varma, the ruler of Travancore (1724-98), and the Sangita Saramritam by Tanjore’s Maharashtrian ruler, Tulaja, throw no light on Kathakali technique .They deal only with the great variety of dance patterns and the numerous possible permutations and combinations which could be achieved in a given sequence. Only sub-chapter in Balarama Bharatam mentions various knee positions and leg-extensions comparable to some ofthe movements employed in Kathakali today. Quite obviously the author gave the sanction ofthe sastrcis to movements known in the gymnasiums as kalaris and the movements which are known to the various kalis. The text which helps us most in this respect is the Hastalakshana Dipika, which departs considerably from both the Natyasastra and the Sangitaratnakara traditions. The temple sculpture in Kerala and the frescoes in the Padmanabhaswami and Mattancheri temple provide evidence of the fact that the basic Kathakali positions employed today were established by the sixteenth century. Sculptural and other evidences convince one that the style prevalent in Kerala was akin to the forms prevalent in the Tamil Nadu area, particularly with regard to the typical kshipta position of the knees, extended lata arms and the usual accompaniment of drum and cymbals.
It is only around the sixteenth century, especially in the frescoes of Mattancheri that examples of the rectangular positions or mandala sthana so typical and basic to Kathakali, and the familiar headgears and the sari also appear. All these diverse influences resulted in a distinct and highly stylized technique ofdance-drama. Between the seventeenth and nineteenth century, many momentous changes took place in Kerala. While age-old tribal and rural rituals and customs continued in forests and lush vegetation, there was the sophisticated performance in the temple courtyard or special theatres i.e.. Kuttamabalam. On streets, in processions or otherwise, there was a variety of forms ranging from the humble Ottanthullal martial displays, to the innumerable types of theatrical performances connected with annual festivals such as the Onam along with the Christians, the Portuguese and others who had settled in Kerala. This complex picture of various types of performance and the mutual influence of different traditions is reflected in the dramatic writings of the period. By the early part of the twentieth century7, while the ritual dance drama traditions, such as Teyyams. the Bhagavati cult dances continued, temple dancing and the sophisticated rituals especially of Kudiyattam, Kathakali, Krislinattam and Ramanattain seem to have shrunk or at least become fragmented. As in the case of Bharatanatyam, once again in the 30s ofthis century, as part of a more pervasive search for Indian identity, Poet Vallathol in Kerala rediscovered or one may say resurrected Kathakali. It was in 1932 that he began Kerala Kala Mandalam which was formally established in 1936. He gathered the great Gurus, Ramamuni Menon, Kunju Kurup and others, reinstalled poetry and literature and gave Kathakali the form in which we recognise it today. Scripts of Kathakali plays written by Unni Warrior and Thampi were employed, a new format was adopted and in so doing, an ancient art had also been given a new sensibility. Technique In technique, Kathakali follows the other classical styles in embodying nritya and abhinaya. Of course, drama is its soul. The human body is made up of minute anatomical units which function individually or in combination with other parts. In none of the other Indian dance styles is the entire body, both the skeleton and the muscular part, used so completely as in Kathakali. In contrast to the other dance forms, the muscles play an important part here and the movements ofthe facial muscles are a most significant part of a dancer’s training.
The geometrical pattern which the dancer follows may be described as either a square or a rectangle, with the dancer standing with both feet apart, knees turned out and the outer soles of the feet touching the ground. This position may be identified as the mandala sthana mentioned by Bharata. The dancer covers space also in patterns of square and rectangles. The right foot meets the left and covers one side of the square. The dancer moves forward to the third comer ofthe rectangle and then back to the second comer and finally comes back to the first comer but only touching, all four points. With his amis and hands, the dancer covers space usually in figures of squares and rectangles or clearly-drawn diagonals along these squares and rectangles. Occasionally the hands execute figures of eight and the eyes follow, but the movement sequence always limits itself to the perimeter of the initial imaginary geometric pattern. The knees are always turned out and unlike Bharatanatyam there is invariably space of two to three feet between the feet. The torso is used as one unit or occasionally, two i.e. the upper and lower torso. Jumps, spirals, sweeps and leaps are characteristic. Leg extensions are clear and the weight must be shifted from one foot to the other in these extensions with ease. It is an essential part ofthe dancer’s training to learn how to use each facial muscle separately. The movement ofthe eyebrows, the eyeballs and the lower eyelids described in Natyasastra are not used to such an extent in any other dance style ofIndia. No training is complete without the mastery of these movements In the nritta portions of Kathakali, the dancer executes leg-extensions and jumps still covering space in a series ofsquares and rectangles to a given time cycle (tala). The units of the nritta portion are the kalasams which may be compared to the tirmanams of the Bharatanatyam technique or the toras and tukras ofthe Kathak technique. In Kathakali, as in Bharatanatyam and Kathak, these cadences of dance patterns culminate in compositions known as araddis which are usually multiples ofthree. Other types of nritta sequences, based on different ways ofmanipulating the rhythm, are known as the adakkams and the tomakarams. The pure nritta technique appears in the repertoire mostly as a prelude to the dance-dramas. There are two numbers which may be described as typical nritta numbers and these are the todayam and the purappadu. In both, the dancer begins the movement in the slow tempo ofthe basic metrical cycle and then to the mnemonics ofthe mandalam and the chenda, executes the nritta patterns. The hand or arm gestures here are few and, usually, only variations between the alapadma and the hamsasya.
The Kalasams is the most fundamental unit of a cadence of movement in Kathakali. As in the case of different types of sequential movements in Bharatanatayam, so also in Kathakali, there are the doubled Kalasams which normally are longer than the smaller units, sometimes these culminate as has been mentioned above or in multiples ofthree. There are even bigger Kcilasams known astheBaliya Kalasams. These are extended passages ofdance but always used in dramatic structure. There are then the Vattam Vachchu Kalasam which represent covering space in circles. Finally, there isthe largest ofthe longesttype ofKalasams called the asthakalasam. This kinetic phrase is a stringing together ofeight different units normally set to a 10-beat metrical cycle called the champa tala. It is important to note that each ofthese nritta passages are always used as part and parcel ofthe dramatic spectacle. TheseKalasams also have an emotional mood or bhava. The manner ofthe delivery timesterse andjerky, and yet at other timesthese are rendered in a mood ofcompassion. Alwaysthese are conditioned by the mood ofthe play and the particular situation ofthe dramatic scene. These canbe introduced,withinthe dramatic structure in anumber ofways. For example, some of the Kalasams known as the araddis Kalasams are used only as the milder forms ofheroism or when a romantic scene is being presented. The large big Kalasams called the Baliya are used in scenes of combat battle or heroism. Similarly, the astha Kalasams are rendered only at particular moments. These punctuate the singing ofthe padas and come before or after the abhinaya which is normally done or performed to a sung line by two vocalists, the principal and the supporter. The abhinaya technique of Kathakali has such variety and such flexibility that it allows the dancer actor to treat his theme or his character in many ways apart from the possibility ofimprovising or taking offon the sung words, or dancing the words as in Choliyattam. There is always the possibility of some interpolated passagesthrough mime. Here the actor hasthe fullestfreedom, he follows no text and he can improvise to his heart’s content. This is known as the manodharma ofthe actor, the musical accompaniment comprises soliloquy or conversation or have flashbacks ofthe kind noticed in Kudiyattam, but all in all, he must keep to the basic character which he is portraying . Everything put together, he must create that dominantmood whether it is oflove or humour, compassion or disgust or tranquility. Like the Chakyar actor ofthe Kudiyattam, Kathakali actor also uses the hastas i.e. the hands and the eyes as his most important instruments of communication never forgetting that these are used alongwith other micro movements of the face and the micro movements ofthe lower limbs and the torso.
The Kathakali tradition of the hastas is somewhat different from that of the Natyasastra and the Abhinaya Darpana. Although many names are common, the gestures are different, for example, the extended hand is called thepataka in the Natyasastra and the Abhinaya Darpana tradition, but it is called tripataka in the Kathakali tradition. The text followed by the Kathakali actors is the Hasta Lakshana Dipika which described 24 basic hastas ofsingle hands and an equal number of combined hands. Each hasta can be used in its permutation and combination with another hasta. It can be used at different levels, it can be used alongwith the movements ofthe arms and the eyes delicately or with energy or without. All this makes up for a vocabulary of over one thousand words which can communicate names, verbs, sentences, moods, situations, status and finally inner states olbeing. The Kathakali tradition has perfected all that was known to the Kudiyattam tradition and has certainly enlarged and elaborated the language of gesture which was known to other dramatic forms, but none attained this refined sophistication. The abhinaya is presented in three stages: (a) word to ward synchronisation, (b) interpretation of the hill line and (c) abhinaya of the dancer following the singer. There is an aspect of abhinaya in Kathakali where the dancer uses the wards ofthe line only as a starting point and improvises a full sequence of movement. Hand-gesture language is most significant here for the elaboration ofthe word. This position, known as choliyattam, is the final test of any great dance imaginative faculties. Although the line of poetry may only say that Bhiina want through a forest the dancer is at full liberty to present the forest in all its beauty and splendour. A characteristic example ofthis kind of abhinaya is seen in the dance drama called Kalyana Sougandhikam where Bliima is sent by Draupadi to get her the flownr. The scenes on his wray, which include a fight between a panther and a cobra, movement of herds of elephants, running ofswift deer and the dance of the peacocks all are conveyed by the dancer through abhinaya. The principle of the ekaharya, so characteristic of Bharatanatyain and the Kathak, becomes a part of larger dramatic technique. Finally, abhinaya is also seen in its manifestations of the vyabhichari or the sanchanbhava. Here, the main objective of the Kathakali dancer is to evoke a particular dominant mood (sthayibhava). This he does by presenting variation on the same theme. In the abhinaya portions of Kathakali, the hastas assume prune importance. While the hastas are important in other dance styles, their language is not so elaborate and stylized as hi Kathakali.
The Hastalakshana Dipika mentions more than 500 words and these words are all described in terms ofthe 24 basic hastas. Each hasta can be used in its permutations and combinations with another hcista to communicate names, verbs, tense, full sentences, moods and finally states of being. Through the language of the hasta, one seems how the earlier dramatic traditions have played an important part hi shaping Kathakali into its present form. Character Types In Kathakali, the principal characters are types. Each actor presents a particular type rather than being a narrator as in the other solo forms. Tlie thematic content of the Kathakali dance-drama is derived from the myths and legends of the Hindu epics and the puranas. Buddhism was known to Kerala and some Buddhist influence is discernible in its literature. In the theatre,however, the content is almost without exception Hindu. In accordance with certain canons of the epic traditions, drama is built by counterpoising certain types of characters against others. Although the hero and the villain of Sanskrit drama have a place in Kathakali, the different types of heroes known to the Kathakali tradition can be traced back more easily to the epics and the puranas ratherthan to the nataka. An examination ofthe literarywrorksrevealsthatthere wrere perhaps other types of dramatic rituals in existence earlier, but Kathakali drama druing the last 150 to 200 years, has been restricted to about six types. This is a large number when compared to the two or three types of characters found in the folk-drama tradition. First, there are the demigods or the heroes; they can be generally identified as the dhiroclatta heroes of the Sanskrit drama or the sattvika characters of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Gods also belong to the category of goodcharacters and Krishna and lama maybe characterized both as gods and as good heroes. These characters are calm, good-humoured, heroic and are seen in their moods ofgrace and ofvalour but never in fear or disgust In their moods of ferocity and anger, these basically good types assume what is known in the tradition as raudra rupa, mood of anger. Thus a character like Bliima assumes raudra manifestation when in a state of anger which prompts him to kill Dussasana. Secondly, there are the anti-heroes and the villains, both human and demon. They represent negative forces and are usually aggressive, treacherous and ferocious. These also can be traced back to Puranic stories and their treatment is more akin to characterization in the Mahabharata rather than that in the Sanskritdrama. Kathakalimakes a furthersubdivision ofvillainousApes, because villains and demons can be either kings, gods, or female demons. They may be simply evil, or they may be evil and treacherous and cruel. Surprisingly enough, the character of the Vidushaka known to the Kudiyattam ofKerala completely disappeared from Kathakali. Humorousportions of Kathakali are occasionally presented in niunber in winch Hanuman appears.
In the story relating to the capture ofthe royal horse by Lava and Kusa and in the story of the meeting ofBhima with Hanuman in the drama Kalyana Sougandhikam, we have some humour without any of the ironical or satirical undertones wilich were presented by the vidushaka in the Kudiyattam tradition. Kathakali tradition also has characters like the half-man half-lion in Narasimha (Prahlada Charitam); half-man half-bird in Hamsa (Nala Charitam) and, the monkey deity Hanuman. There are a fewr other characters wTho cannotjustifiably fall into any ofthe large categories. These include the ordinary humans such as wromert rishis, children messengers, etc. Finally, there are the unique persons who live in woods and forests and may be stylized types representing tribal peoples and aborigines. Siva disguised in the form ofKirata is portrayed as one such character. Make-up With intricate stylization, it is only appropriate that the character-type should appear on the stage neither as a human being nor as one imitating the actions of men,butrather as one representing certainmoods or characteristics of a particular aspect of life in its abstraction. In order to achieve this, the Indian dramatic tradition, along with the other Asian counterparts, has evolved a highly complex and symbolic system of costuming and make-up. The stylized costuming which we know ofin other Asian traditions is not seen in any purity in India. However, Kathakali preservessome ofthe highly symbolic stylization, particularly in makeup. Specifically, this make-up may remind one ofthe Chinese opera or the Japanese Kabuki. But on a close look, one finds it distinctively Indian. While there is a common hypothesis that certain colours represent certain characteristics and moods still in the actual design ofthe make-up, there islittle in common between the contours of the face in Kathakali and the Chinese opera or the Kabuki theatre. TheNatyasastra refersto facial make-upmanytimes, it also devotes one complete chapter to aharyabhinaya where it considers the symbolism of colour in facial make-up and costumes. As with the ragas and raginis of the Indian musical system, here also, certain colours are associated with particular moods and sentiments. Normally, light green represents sringara, red raudra and yellow adbhuta. Kathakalifollowsthesebasic colourpatternsbut associations developed a unique system, easily the most intricate technique offacial make-up in India. Its aim is not merely to cover the human face, but rather to transform the actor into a god or a demon. Once the actor has the make-up he is no longer himself,but has been transformed into the character which he is playing. Even before his firststage entrance no one should addressthe actor by his own name once he has put on the make-up.
The artist who guides this make-up is an important person both at the training stage and also at the performing stage. Chouttikkaran, as he is known, is a revered teacher who has been through an excruciating training in the art— from drawing designs on a pot and coconut shell to mastering the complexities of preparing his own colours by grinding, soaking, and mixing them to desired consistency. This is important because the make-up is directly related to the character-types. Ifthe characters are sattvika, the basic make-up is green, Pachcha, The cheeks, up to the jaw-bone, are covered wdth a light green paste and the eyes are elongated to give them a design which can be described as "'lotus-eyed”, The forehead has a white pigment and can take different designs depending upon the particular character. Thus Krishna has a different forehead design from that of Arjuna. The jaw-bone is exaggerated by pasting along it cut-outs either of paper or of papier-mache, to give the face enlarged dimensions. With the costume, the make up transforms the actor from his human proportionsto superhuman stature. The make-up (Chutti) is a white paste made of ground-rice and lime and it is along the arc ofthis white paste that the cut ofthe false chin and jaw are struck. When these characters assume the mood offerocity (raudra), a large, ferocious moustache in black is drawn on the basic green make-up along the upper lip reaching to the upper cheekbone. The transformation ofBhima from the purely pachcha character to the raudra Bhima is indicated in this manner. When there are kings and heroes who could not be described merely as villains or antiheroes, but who may be described as rajasik characters such as Ravana, the basic green make-up is broken by red patches. Also, on the basic green makeup, an oval red and white design is made on the nose and on the upper cheek. The upturned moustache is common both to this types, known as kathi, and to the earlier raudra type of green (pachcha), a white blob of pith is attached to the nose which makes the characters seem more fantastic than human. Tadi Types Anti-heroes, villains, demons and some special types in conventional Kathakali receive a make-up called the beard (Tadi). Three types ofbeards are traditional the red, the black and the white. The red beard is for the evil character mostly involved in destructive deeds. The basic colour scheme ofthe face is red, with upper portion ofthe face painted black and the lower portion painted red. The eyes are not elongated to take the lotus shape, but, instead, have a square patch ofblack collyrium giving them a frightening look.
The viiite paste (chutti) is not applied along the natural contours ofthe jawr-bone. Instead, the paper cut-outs are also square and put out from the line ofthe nose horizontally on either side of the face. This, together with the elongation ofthe chin by a flat false beard, gives these characters a very ominous appearance. More often than not, there are two fangs protruding from the lips. With the screams and cries they utter, they succeed in creating an atmosphere ofthe nether-world on the stage. The black beards are different. These do not indicate the anti-heroes and the demons, but the aborigines and the off-beat characters like the Kirata (Siva disguised as hunter). The basic make-up here is notred but black. On this, there are many fantastic designs in white and red. The blackbeards are also associated with the characters. The wdiite beard, known as veluppu tadi, indicates the third type of half-human gods like Haiiuman. The basic mock-up is white. These characters are benign, although they can assume ferocious forms. A different category of make-up is seen in characters like the Lion-God (Narasimha). The basic make-up of such characters is yellow, representing adbhuta or wonder. In the Kathakali tradition, this is known as a variation of the white beard. As a matter of fact this make up is a class by itself and perhaps one of the most effective make-ups of the Kathakali dance drama. Other types of characters do not have such elaborate make-up. There is only one basic make-up for them—pink on the face without any attempt at masking. These types are known as the minukku; women, brahmins, messengers, rishis, all appear in ordinary" costumes. Mudis The symbolism of the make-up is highlighted by" many types of headgear. These headgears, generally called the mudis, are carved either from wrood or cane fibre or are made of papier-mache. There is a particular cane shaped crown headgear (mudi) for Krishna but is also worn by Lava and Kusa and other children and princes of the Sattvika type. The other good heroes (pachcha characters) wTear a more elaborate low- conical crow-n with a small disc. In-set mirrors are characteristic ofthese mudis. The red-bearded characters vrear a headdress similar to those noble characters, but the crown is higher, the disc is larger wiiile the villains’ and demons’ headgears assume huge proportions.
A distinctive headgear is designed for characters like Hanuman, Narasimha and Siva disguised as a hunter. The symbolism Thich is followed in the make-up and headgears is also carried out in the costume colours worn by" the various characters. The pachcha characters usually" v-ear a jacket of either purple, blue or yrellow" colour. The redbeards wrear a red jacket and the w-hite-beards w"ear a wdiite jacket wdiile the scarfs vdiich hang on either side follow^ the colour patterns set by" the make-up. The low"er half of the costume of Kathakali dancer is common to all types excepting the minukku characters. An attempt is made to enlarge the actor’s proportions by using heavily plaited skirts. Beneath this aw"e-inspinng make-up huge headgear and spectacular costume is a most pliable, lithe, slim and w-elltrained body. The Repertoire A Kathakali evening begins with the sounding of drums, vdiich play" an important part in establishing the proper atmosphere for a performance, since the playr is performed outdoors, against the light of a single oil-lamp, the drums call the audience to attention. The playing of the drums (melappadam) is follov-ed by devotional number called the todayam where one or two characters. invoke the blessings of the gods. The todayam is usually performed behind a curtain held by two stage-hands. After the todayam comes a pure nritta piece known asthe purappadu, in which appear two characters either the hero and his consort, or two other pachcha characters, or even the five Pandava brothers. The purappadu is another introductory dance of invocation and has no mime. The dancer presents a number of pure dance sequences (kalasams). The entire technique ofKathakali is exhibited through these cadences. Afterthepurappadu, the play or the particular scene ofthe play chosen for the evening begins. Very often, before any major character appears, there isthe slow revelation ofthe characterfrombehind the curtain. The character gradually appears asthe curtain islowered. Wien a powerful character appears for the first time, he stands close behind the curtain and there appearsto be a struggle between the character and the curtain. To the accompaniment of the drums and cymbals, the character executes many dance sequences, which are only partially seen by the audience. The curiosity ofthe audience increases and the suspense is maintained. Then, as ifthe power ofthe characterwere conquering the curtain or vanquishing the stage attendants, the curtain disappears and he appears in his full glory. The play with the curtain is known as the tiranokku. Beyond this point the story unfoldsthrough nritta, natya and abhinaya.
The text in Malayalam is closely followed by the performers. Itwould be perfectly correct to say thatthe Malayalam plays such as Nala Charitam, Kalyana Sougandhikam, Bali Vijayam, Ravanasuravadham and Sita Swayamvaram, were written specifically for singing in a Kathakali dance-drama. The passages contain soliloquies of characters or are sometimes highly descriptive to enable the actor to present abhinaya. Sometimes, they consist of key words which can give the dancerfrill opportunity for presentingvariations (sancharibhava) and sometimes, tliere are passages ofcourt drama and dialogue on which dramatic climax is built up. The passages sung are interspersed with purely percussive musical accompaniment. Thus, after a padam has been sung and the abhinaya has been done, the singer stops while the actor goes on to interpret the literary content through gestures to the accompaniment of the percussion instruments. This interpretation is known as the manodharma which affords the actor full scope to improvise. During the manodharma an imaginative and well-trained actor can hold an audience over one sequence for hours. This is followed by pure nritta passages where only the kalasams or the dance cadences are executed. Through a familiar puranic story, familiar music, symbolic make-up, stylized costuming and headgear, the Kathakali dance-drama seeks to evoke a state, a particular sthayibhava and a rasa. In this respect the Kathakali dance drama is perhapsthe only real survivor ofthe classical tradition ofpresenting a particular rasa as the content of a dramatic performance. This skill has been lost to many ofthe otherIndiantheatrical traditions. Although an amalgam ofseveral elements and certainly not an example ofthe chaste classical tradition, Kathakali is a vital form oftheatre which has its roots in classical tradition. It is an interesting commentary on the complex cultural processes of this country that while assimilating foreign influences and alien cultures, it has continued to maintain a distinctively Indian character in almost all the art forms. The coming of the Arabs, the Dutch and the Portuguese seem to have left its mark on Kathakali, but the fundamental spirit continues to be Indian in character, and the dance-drama has not departed from the ancient aesthetic canons in its objective of evoking a state of being.