What images and perceptions do suddenly flash in one’s mind when the word Kerala is uttered? A land with beautiful swinging layers of greenery, Blue Mountains criss-crossed by green rivers, never endless streams of backwaters with coconut palms sway on sides…… What more? Of course no one can ever miss the exquisite designed Kathakali face mask.
This is because of the fame of this Kerala’s own traditional classical form has crossed the borders of the nation and seven seas to enthrall all its viewers, barring caste, creed, gender, religion or nationality. Kathakali evolved in the 8th century from ‘Ramanattam’ a dance drama created by Kottarakkara Thampuran, a great admirer and promoter of traditional art forms. It is Kerala’s very own, much celebrated dance drama.
Kathakali draws its theme from the wealth of Indian mythology and folklore. The performer is assisted by vocal and percussion accompaniments while the dancer through ‘hasta mudras’ or hand gestures expounds the theme. Expressions of face and eyes hold the key to perfection.
Unique among the Indian dance forms, Kathakali ranks high among the Indian dance forms. Noted for its archaic costumes, weird make up, the elaborately painted faces often mistaken for masks and grand headgears, Kathakali is perhaps the only dance form in India in which the masculine aspect of the dance is preserved in its elemental vigor.