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Heli Tourism

Kathi Vesham - Kathakali Make up

Category - Art Forms

Kathi Vesham - Kathakali Make up


The internationally famous Kathakali, which combines features of ballet, opera, mime, masque and pantomime, is the best-known art form of Kerala. This form of dance-drama traditionally presented in temple precincts from dusk to dawn during festivals, demands ten to twelve years of training and regular practice. The theme or Aattakatha (literally dance-story) of the piece shown here is based on an incident from the Mahabharata, the slaying of the demon Keechaka by Bhima when he tried to molest Shairandhri or Panchali. Here the male character is portraying a Kathi vesham. Vesham means make up. In Kathakali, the vesham, which is of five types, represents five kinds of characters. The Kathi vesham (Kathi means knife) is to represent villainous male characters. The other four veshams are Pacha (green) for noble characters, Thadi (beard) and Kari (black) for lower classes, and Minukku (which means prettying up) for women, sages, Brahmins and so on.

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