- 1 Introduction
- 2 1.String Puppets
- 3 2. Shadow Puppets
- 4 3. Rod Puppets
- 5 4. Glove Puppets
Puppetry is a form of theatre or performance that involves the manipulation of puppets. Puppetry takes many forms but they all share the process of animating inanimate performing objects. Puppetry is used in almost all human societies both as entertainment – in performance – and ceremonially in rituals and celebrations such as carnivals.
Some scholars trace the origin of puppets to India 4000 years ago, where the main character in Sanskrit plays was known as “Sutradhara”, “the holder of strings”. Stories adapted from puranic literature, local myths and legends usually form the content of traditional puppet theatre in India which, in turn, imbibes elements of all creative expressions like painting, sculpture, music, dance, drama, etc.
Various forms of Puppets are described below:
Components: The string puppet has jointed body and limbs that allow movement. They are made of wood, or wire, or cloth stuffed with cotton, rags or saw dust and are usually small.
Manipulation: The puppet is manipulated by operating the control as well as by loosening or pulling the relevant string
Regions: Traditional string puppet shows are prevalent in the states of Andhra Pradesh (Koyya Bommalata), Assam (Putala Nach), Karnataka (Sutrada Gombeyata), Maharashtra (Kalasutri Bahulya), Rajasthan (Kathputli), Orissa (Gopalila), Tamil Nadu (Bommalatam) and West Bengal (Tarer or Sutor Putul).
|Basics||Carved from a single piece of wood, these puppets are like large dolls that are colourfully dressed. Their costumes and headgears are designed in the medieval Rajasthani style of dress|
|Music||Highly dramatized version of the regional music.|
|Distinct features||Facial features: Oval faces, large eyes, arched eyebrows and large lips. These puppets wear long trailing skirts and do not have legs.|
|Manipulation||With strings attached to puppeteers fingers|
|Basics||Made of light wood, the Orissa puppets have no legs but wear long flowing skirts. They have more joints and are, therefore, more versatile, articulate and easy to manipulate.|
|Music||Music of Odissi dance.|
|Distinct features||Made of light wood, have more joints and are, therefore, more versatile, articulate and easy to manipulate .These puppets have no legs but wear long flowing skirts.|
|Manipulation||Puppeteers often hold a wooden prop, triangular in shape, to which strings are attached|
|Basics||Styled and designed like the characters of Yakshagana, have joints at the legs, shoulders, elbows, hips and knees.|
|Music||Music is dramatic; blends folk and classical elements|
|Manipulation||Manipulated by five to seven strings tied to a prop|
Bommalattam, Tamil Nadu
|Basics||Techniques of both rod and string puppets. Made of wood and the strings for manipulation are tied to an iron ring which the puppeteer wears like a crown on his head|
|Distinct features||The Bommalattam puppets are the largest, heaviest and the most articulate of all. (A puppet may be as big as 4.5 feet)|
|Manipulation||Jointed arms sometimes manipulated by rods (because heavy)|
2. Shadow Puppets
Components: Shadow puppets are flat figures. They are cut out of leather, which has been treated to make it translucent. Shadow puppets are pressed against the screen with a strong source of light behind it.
Manipulation: The manipulation between the light and the screen make silhouettes or colourful shadows, as the case may be, for the viewers who sit in front of the screen.
Regions: This tradition of shadow puppets survives in Orissa. Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
Togalu Gombeyatta, Karnataka
|Basics||These puppets are mostly small in size|
|Distinct features||The puppets differ in size according to their social status, for instance, large size for kings and religious characters and smaller size for common people or servants.|
Tholu Bommalata, Andhra Pradesh
|Basics||The puppets are large in size and have jointed waist, shoulders, elbows and knees.|
|Music||The classical music of the region|
|Distinct features||They are coloured on both sides. Hence, these puppets throw coloured shadows on the screen.|
|Basics||The puppets are small in size and are in one piece with no joints. The puppets are made of deer skin and are conceived in bold dramatic poses.|
|Distinct features||They are not coloured, hence throw opaque shadows on the screen. Apart from human and animal characters, many props such as trees, mountains, chariots, etc. are also used|
3. Rod Puppets
Rod puppets are an extension of glove-puppets, but often much larger and supported and manipulated by rods from below. This form of puppetry now is found mostly in West Bengal and Orissa.
Putul Nautch, West Bengal
|Basics||They are costumed like the actors of Jatra, a traditional theatre and are carved from wood and follow the various artistic styles of a particular region. They used to be of human size, but existing puppets vary from 3 to 4 feet in height|
|Music||Jatra theatre (drum, harmonium and cymbals)|
|Distinct features||Puppeteers themselves sing and deliver the stylized prose dialogues along with a group of musicians|
|Manipulation||Manipulated by a bamboo-made hub tied firmly to the waist of the puppeteer on which the rod holding the puppet is placed; Puppeteers move and dance imparting movements to puppets|
Rod puppets, Orissa
|Basics||Are much smaller in size, usually about twelve to eighteen inches. Hands are tied to strings instead of rods. (because they are small)|
|Music||The music blends folk tunes with classical Odissi tunes|
|Distinct features||Most of the dialogues are sung.|
|Manipulation||The Orissa rod-puppeteers squat on the ground behind a screen and manipulate.|
|Basics||In one piece and have no joints. It describes Yampuri (the house of Death). The show begins with appearance of the death-god Yama and his messenger, followed by their record-keeper Chitragupta. One by one, the people (supposedly after death) are marched in front of Yama to receive their doles of punishment.|
|Distinct features||The narrative is meant primarily to put the fear of heaven and hell in people for their current deeds and thus has almost the same purpose as Morality plays of the medieval Europe.|
4. Glove Puppets
Components: The head is made of either papier mache, cloth or wood, with two hands emerging from just below the neck. The rest of the figure consists of a long flowing skirt.
Manipulation: The manipulation technique is simple the movements are controlled by the human hand the first finger inserted in the head and the middle finger and the thumb are the two arms of the puppet.
The tradition of glove puppets in India is popular in Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal and Kerala.
Dialogues play an important role here
|Basics||In Pavakoothu, the height of a puppet varies from one foot to two feet. The head and the arms are carved of wood and joined together with thick cloth, cut and stitched into a small bag|
|Music||The musical instruments used during the performance are Chenda, Chengiloa, Ilathalam and Shankha|
|Distinct features||The face of the puppets are decorated with paints, small and thin pieces of gilded tin, the feathers of the peacock. Has resemblance with that of kathakali dance.|
|Manipulation||The manipulator puts his hand into the bag and moves the hands and head of the puppet.|
ccrtindia.gov.in ; puppetryindia.org; Wikipedia