Tholpavakoothu – UPSC GS1

  • Tholpavakoothu is a form of shadow leather puppetry that is practiced in Kerala. It is also known as Nizhalkkoothu and Olakkoothu.
  • Temple art form: It is a traditional temple art. It has roots in Palakkad and neighboring regions in Kerala. It used to be performed in the Bhadrakali temples of Palakkad for telling tales from the Ramayana.
  • Origin: It is believed to have originated in the ninth century AD and uses Kamba Ramayana as its basic text.
  • Made up of: The puppets used to be made out of deerskin but are now typically made from goatskin. The puppets are painted in vegetable dyes, as these dyes last long.
  • Instruments used: The instruments used for the art form include Ezhupara, Chenda, and Maddalam.
  • Puppeteer: The lead puppeteer is usually called a pulavar. It is an honorific given to a puppeteer who is also a scholar.

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