Indian Puppetry


Indian PuppetryAccording to historians, puppets are as old as civilisation. Ancient India and many other countries had viewed puppets as divine creation. Since early days, handmade puppets were used as an important means of communicating and educating.

An endearing Indian legend of the eleventh century, recorded by Somdeva, narrates about exquisite dolls created by a carpenter. Gauri, Shiva's consort adored them very much and Shiva gave them life to perform dances. The carpenter prayed for continuing the boon, which was granted. Whatever the basis of the legend, most traditional puppeteers of India commence their shows with prayers and, at the end of the show, put the puppets reverentially aside. When puppets decay, they are floated away in rivers after performing the worship. The latent idea still is to treat puppets as blessed by the gods and respect due to them. The heritage of Indian puppets is to tell stories from the epics and myths: depicting gods and men.

One will find many types of puppetry art forms being practiced in India. Take for instance the glove puppet which is very popular in Kerala and Orissa.

Then there's the rod puppet. These puppets are made to act by the support of attached rods held by the puppeteer. They come in various shapes in sizes. This type of puppet show is popular in Orissa and West Bengal.

Similarly there is the shadow puppet. For this, flat two-dimensional puppets made out of animal skin are operated from behind a tightly stretched white cloth screen. Light is directed on the screen from behind in a way that the shadows of the puppets fall on it. This type of puppetry is popular in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa and Tamil Nadu.
 


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