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Chuvanna Thadi - Kathakali Make-up

Category - Art Forms

Chuvanna Thadi - Kathakali Make-up

Kathakali is the nearly 300 year old classical dance-drama form which combines facets of ballet, opera, mime, masque and pantomime. Visitors from across the globe arrive in Kerala eager to catch a glimpse of this great art form. Kathakali explicates events and stories from the Indian epics and puranas. Kathakali performances are traditionally presented in the temple precincts after dusk falls and continues till the day-break. This demanding art form requires nearly ten to twelve years of rigorous training and continuous practice to perform on stage.The vesham or (make-up) for Kathakali is of immense importance as the vesham itself speaks a lot on the identity, character and class of the character presented.

The vesham symbolically represents five classes, Pacha (green) portrays noble protagonists, Kathi (knife) villainous, thadi (beard), Kari (black) represents low characters and Minukku (prettying up) women, sages, brahmins etc. The thadi (beard) is of three types Chuvanna thadi (red beard), Vella thadi (white beard) and Karutha thadi (black beard). In Kathakali the most ferocious and cruel characters appear in Chuvanna thadi vesham. Usually Rakshasas (demons), Asuras (according to Indian mythology Asuras live on Patala, above hell and represent evil and Devas live in heaven and represent goodness), and certain kings use Chuvanna thadi as they are all cruel and shrewd characters. Chuvanna thadi is the most spine-chillingvesham in Kathakali. The size of the headgear is five to six finger-sizes larger than the size of the normal circular shaped headgears. Usually the actor roars or shouts to express certain emotions. A shouting Chuvanna thadi is the most fearsome of the Kathakali characters.

The video presented here is from the Duryodhana Vadham attakkatha (play) which depicts the murder of the villain (Duryodhana) of the epic Mahabharatha. The characters shown are Dusshasana in Chuvanna thadi and his elder brother Duryodhana.


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