Content Research by Shivanki
The historical blend of both modern and ancient is creative best is best identified with Togalu Gombeyaata, a puppet show unique to the state of Karnataka, India. ‘ Togalu Gombeyaata’ translates to ‘a play of leather dolls’ in the ancient language of Kannada.
This leather art form has an interesting blend of shadows and music which makes it livable in theatres. The puppets used in Togalu Gombeyaata are goat hide and deer skin.
It has unique characteristic of transparency that absorbs colours , such as vegetable dyes of red, blue, green and black adding life to this art of storytelling. For puppets representing human and animal figures, the head and limbs are joined in such a way that they can be moved easily.The maximum size of the puppet is 4 x 3 feet and the minimum is 6 x 3 inches.
The puppeteers of the small leather puppet theatre performers use Kannada language and in a box stage manipulator sits behind the screen, raise the puppets held in their hands. During the performance men, women, children, the whole community of the artiste, take part. The puppet shows in this particular art form traces it’s origin to Rashtrakutas, Pallavas, Kadambas, Chalukyas, Hoysalas and Kothapur kingdoms in south.
In Karnataka there are two major varieties in the leather puppet shows, depending on the size of the puppets.
Chikka Togalu Gombeyaata
The small puppets players have their own mobile stage measures 9 feet and 5 feet.
Leather puppets demonstrating the war between the Pandava, Arjuna and his son Babruvahana
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Leather_puppets_of_Karnataka.jpg
Dodda Togalu Gombeyaata
The average dimensions of the leather puppet stage 12 feet in length, 6 feet in width.
An Elephant Puppet
Image Source: http://seltmann.manasvi.eu/images/25300_201007140356b.jpg
A Boar Puppet
Image Source: http://seltmann.manasvi.eu/images/25300_201007140379.jpg
Each variety shows several regional variations in the style of music, craftsmanship, stage technique and manipulation.
The visible portion in front where a white screen tied up. Behind the screen the manipulator sits and manipulates the epic characters from behind the screen. Behind the curtain the hands of the manipulators remain unseen. On front of the stage the puppeteers’ family or associate sits and give chorus and exchange dialogue with drum beater. In the projected light sources the leather puppets shadow appears with beautiful colour.
A still from Ramayana in Togalu Gombeyaata
Image Source: http://indulge.newindianexpress.com/shadow-play-3/section/51889
Even as television, radio and movies remain our first choice to entertainment , this sheer execution of creativity and hard work by puppeteers fulfils one’s connect roots in easiest way possible.
Here is a sample video of spectacular art form :
Now that this ancient art form is no longer restricted to Dravidian states alone, do find time to catch hold of amazing performances in nearest festival near you. Follow Nazariya to know about the upcoming performances.