Artist throws light on shadow pup­petry, re­vives it from his­tory

DNA (Daily News & Analysis) Mumbai Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Advitya Bahl [email protected]­dia.net

As the first man danced, his shadow danced along with him. I be­lieve that was the ba­sis for shadow pup­petry

Ra­machan­dra Pulavar,

New Delhi: The art form of Thol­pavakoothu (shadow pup­petry) used to be a part of In­dia’s rich cul­tural her­itage, but has been in a down­ward spi­ral re­cently. Na­tional Award win­ner Ra­machan­dra Pulavar is en­gaged in a strug­gle to re­vive the lost glory of the art form.

Speak­ing to DNA dur­ing the Arth: A Cul­ture Fest, Pulavar re­vealed that Thol­pavakoothu, hav­ing orig­i­nated in the ninth cen­tury AD, is the world’s old­est art form. Around 12 to 13 gen­er­a­tions of his fam­ily have been en­gaged in per­form­ing the art and he is con­tin­u­ing the tra­di­tion. He fur­ther ex­plained that it is be­lieved that first came Chai­tanya (ho­li­ness), then emerged Prakruti (na­ture), fol­lowed by the sun and then, light.

“As the first man danced, his shadow danced along with him. I be­lieve that was the ba­sis for shadow pup­petry, an an­cient art form which has been around for many cen­turies. As man learned more about ma­nip­u­lat­ing light and dark to weave sto­ries, Thol­pavakoothu, an art form that is

Shadow pup­petry artist

part of Ker­ala’s rich cul­tural her­itage, emerged,” said Pulavar.

Per­form­ing the story of Ra­mayama es­pe­cially for kids, he ex­plained that this form of sto­ry­telling takes years of prac­tice and uses translu­cent pup­pets, multi-coloured leather fig­ures, which are four to five feet tall and come with ar­tic­u­lated arms.

The pup­petry show per­formed on Sun­day at Arth

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