Thursday, March 12, 2015

Shadow Puppetry of Andhra Pradesh

The shadow puppetry of Andhra Pradesh is a dying performing art. In local language, it is called Tholu Bommalaata, and it is done by traditional clans of puppetters who go from one village to another. Families of puppetters not only perform the show, but also make beautifully decorated puppets. The puppeteers use the epics as the basis for the performance, but also create, compose and insert their own variations. In recent years, they have added songs from Telugu movies, and humorous asides with modern settings. However, like all traditional performing arts, the puppeteers are no match for modern entertainment forms such as television and the movies.

The photo here is of a shadow puppet depicting Hanuman, one of the characters from Ramayana. This puppet dates to the 1930's, and is very beautiful, although it shows some wear and tear. The creator of this puppet has displayed a masterful understanding of colour and form, using red, black and white to create a striking yet beautifully embellished puppet.

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