Kathakali dance
Kathakali dance 
Kathakali is the classical dance form of Kerala. The word Kathakali literally means "Story-Play". Kathakali is known for its heavy, elaborate makeup and costumes. In fact, the colorful and fascinating costumes of Kathakali have become the most recognized icon of Kerala. Kathakali is considered as one of the most magnificent theatres of imagination and creativity. Kathakali dance presents themes derived from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and other Hindu epics, mythologies and legends.

The dance aspect of Kathakali consists of pure dance (nritya) as well as mime (abhinaya). Initially Kathakali was thought to be the sole domain of men but now women also perform the dance. Like all other dance forms Kathakali has also undergone changes over the time. In Kathakali emphasis is given more on aharya abhinaya, the use of costumes, ornaments and facial make-up. It is interesting to note that Kathakali is the only Indian dance form in which the entire body, both skeleton and muscles, down to even the smallest facial muscle are used to portray emotion. When Kathakali dance is being performed the text of the drama or the story is sung for the dancer and is the baseline for his/her interpretation.

In Kerala and some other south Indian states Kathakali performance is a major social event, which starts at dusk and continues all through the night. The Kathakali tradition dates back to the 17th century. It was Mahakavi Vallathol Narayan Menon, who gave Kathakali its present form. He was the founder of the Kerala Kala Mandalam.

Kathakali Costumes The most distinctive characteristic of Kathakali is its dance costume. In Kathakali the makeup is very intricate and the costumes are very large and heavy. There are several kinds of Kathakali costumes namely, Sathwika (the hero), Kathi (the villain), Minukku (females), and Thatti. Each character in Kathakali dance is immediately recognizable by characteristic makeup and costume. The Kathakali makeup is so heavy that it looks like a mask

The costume is the most distinctive characteristic of Kathakali.  The makeup is very elaborate and the costumes are very large and heavy.

There are several kinds of costume.  There are: Sathwika (the hero), Kathi (the villain), Minukku (females), and Thatti.  These basic divisions are further subdivided in a way which is very well known to Malayali (Keralite) audiences.  Each character is instantly recognisable by their characteristic makeup and costume.

The makeup is very elaborate.  It is so elaborate that it is more like a mask than makeup in the usual sense.  The materials that comprise the makeup is all locally available.  The white is made from rice flour, the red is made from Vermilion (a red earth such as cinnabar).  The black is made from soot.  The colours are not merely decoration, but are also a means of portraying characters.  For instance, red on the feet is used to symbolise evil character and evil intent.

The music of Kathakali has some similarity to the larger body of South Indian classical music (Carnatic sangeet); however the instrumentation is decidedly different.  Its local colour is strongly achieved by the use of instruments such as chenda, idakka, and shuddha madalam.

Musical Instruments Used To Accompany Kathakali:

1. Shuddha Madalam
2. Chenda
3. Manjira (thalam)
4. Idakka 

Watch Video Perfomence of Kathkali :


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