Kathakali – A Classical Dance In India

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Kathakali – A Classical Dance In India

Kathakali is an ancient and traditional dance form of Kerala. The word Kathakali literally means “Story-Play”. Kathakali uses elaborate make-ups, costumes and background. Kathakali was originated in the 17th century and has its roots in Hindu mythology. Kathakali has a unique combination of literature, music, painting, acting and dance. Kathakali is based on religious themes. They play is mostly based on the two epics ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata.

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Origin and History of Kathakali

Popular belief is that Kathakali is emerged from “Krishananattam”, the dance drama on the life and activities of Lord Krishna created by the Zamorin of Calicut. Once Kottarakkara Thampuran, the Raja of Kottarakkara who was attracted by Krishnanaattam requested the Zamorin for the loan of a troupe of performers. Due to the political rivalry between the two, Zamorin did not allow this.

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So Kottarakkara Thampuran created another art form called Ramanattam which was later transformed into Aattakatha. Krishnanaattam was written in Sanskrit, and Raamanaattam was in Malayalam. By the end of 17th century, Attakatha was presented to the world with the title ‘Kathakali’.

Elements of Fine Art

Kathakali is a combination of five forms of fine art like :

  1. Natyam (Acting or Expressions)
  2. Nritham (Dance)
  3. Nrithyam (Enactment)
  4. Sangeetham (Music)
  5. Vadyam (Instrument accompaniment)

Even though the lyrics/literature would qualify as another independent element called “Sahithyam”, it is considered as a component of Geetha, as it plays only a supplementary role to Nritham, Nrithyam and Natyam.
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