You are on page 1of 48





INTRODUCTION The vast majority of the rttual arts of Kerala are

resplendent with all the elements of Theatre. Ritual arts like Theyyam, Padayani, Kakkarasi, Koodiyattom, Kathakali etc. are artistic embodiment!; of efficacy and entertainment bearing the true culture of theatre. In the performative level most of them appear to move towards pure theatre while sustaining the basic ritual qualities. The conceptual frame work of these ritual arts exposesthe widely acclaimed fact that they are basically rooted in theatre elements in the varied aspects like the concepts behind the formation of the performer, treatment of the

audience, and the stress given to the spectacular elements. Two of the popular rit.ua1 arts are taken for special study to

compare these aspects in them with the theatres of Artaud and Grotowski and with the modern Malayalam Theatre of the period selected.

4.1.0 Theyyam.. Theyyam is a form of worship performed by the people of Northern Kerala. It consists of a special combination of symbols, rituals and art forms, particularly dance. In this spectacular art form,the ghosts,,good and evil spirits in the manifestation

of subhuman, animate and inanimate beings, ancestor-spirits of legendary figures of great valour, extraordinary powers and Gods. and Goddesses like '~iva;'~akti,vishnu'

endowments, and

appear and are honoured. This is done by dressing up in the intended form ('~olan;) and performing artistically according to prescribed rites and rituals, developed through folk traditions with the accompaniments of Theyyam Theyyam of vocal be and instrumental on music. and

Divisions traditions.

can like

possible. based


'pottan', folk origins

'gulikan', while

'chamundi', like

'Kurathi' etc.



'Vishumurthi' 'Daivathar', 'Makkoppothi' etc. show the Sanskrit tradition. From the classification of Theyyams we can conclude that most of them are of totemic origins. Durkheim is of the view that totemism is the most primitive form of worship. (1954; 47). Primitive peoples' worship of supernatural forces for

better life and prosperity led to the worship of corporel forces later. Totemic cults like tree-worship and animal- worship

originated like this. Theyyams originated as part of the cults of serpent, animal, ancestor, mothergoddess, spirits and heroes. (Nambiar, AK, 1988:55).


Thevyam: a conununitv act.

The ritual art of Theyyam is based on the culture, the religious beliefs and anthropological root of the society from ancient times. The castes who perform Theyyam in North Malabar are '~annan, ~ala~an', 'panan','velan, mnnuttan', 'mjuttan, ~avilari,


, *

, < 'coppalan: '~heravan,. Paravan, Tiyyamalayar, ~arim~alar' etc. The

I ,

'~avarnas' donot








investigator met perform 'Pottan


to 'pulaya' community, who 'Vishnumoorthi etc. He has a



Theyyam', shrine of

'Karichamundi', 'Raktha Chamundi'

'Pottan Theyyam' adjacent to his house. In the ritual, there is the participation of the whole community. The blacksmiths bring firewood used in various rituals. The ornaments, the various ritual implements, festival-ornaments are made by the goldsmiths, the efficacy of the ritual being monitored by the village

atmosphere. The low castes referredto.above become the performers The Harijan manual-labqrers bring raw materials to the shrine used for preparing Other the temple are space. by Muslims divine bring fireu





('Velichappadus'). The high castes become the conductors and the patrons of the performance.

4.1.2. Ritual -. enactments in Theyyam.

In most cases rituals become the symbolic actions of a culture. The expressive level of the symbol becomes the action part of a ritual. In the first chapter it is already pointed out that religious ritual is a symbolic effort of a community to establish relationship with reality which transcends words or deeds. The rituals of Theyyam differs with the nature of the myth of the Theyyam. However,the Theyyam rituals in genera1,have



The p u b l i c



feature. diviner

t h e e x a c t d a t e o f t h e c e l e b r a t i o n i s d e t e r m i n e d by t h e to lunar calculations. Once the date



f i n a l i s e d , t h e p r e p a r a t i o n of t h e p l a c e begins.

The i n v e s t i g a . t o r w i t n e s s e d t h e f o l l o w i n g s t a g e s of r i t u a l enactment in the In of Theyyam the ritual of of the the 'Pottan Theyyam' and a

'Kandakarnan'. solemn entered ritual the


performance, officiating



bath, then

priests The

'~ottaim' which main




'parikarmi's and other

job i s t o p r e p a r e t h e


( 'Kalasam' )

o f f e r i n g s s u c h as f r u i t s ,




w a t e r e t c . and a l s o a r r a n g e lamps w i t h o i l wick

('deepam). The (beginning)

commencing ceremony i s l o c a l l y known a s ' t h u d a n g a l ' This is t h e 'thudi' thottam' important 'thottam'

r e c i t a l with t h e a~cornpaniments~drum or This r e c i t a l


( s m a l l drum).

i s a l s o known a s


(thudangi = t o begin stage of the

t h o t t u = t o c r e a t e ) . The second


i s 'thottam



s t a n d ) . The Theyyam-dancer emerged from t h e g r e e n room w i t h h i s initial make up and a special robe called 'Kacha' and stood

b e f o r e t h e i n s t a l l a t i o n of t h e 'Kottam' t h e Theyyam-dance of T.heyyams Theyyam began got their for sung 'pottan'. makeup the by

and r e c i t e d t h e myth o f 'vellatom'. The the more

This i s called after the

'thottam' there

When one

ready was

pelrforrnance, t h e Theyyav


'thottam' which




i m p o r t a n t s t a g e i n t h e T.heyyam-performance i s known a s ' V a r a v i l i ' (Vara = b l e s s i n g / b o r n distinguished from

V i l i = i n v o c a t i o n ) . Each Theyyam c a n b e


' ~ a r a v i l i ' . After




started the ciimax of dance. After the first 'Uranjattom', the Theyyam performed the sacrifice. The sacrifice followed another 'uranjattom' which .is known as 'Kalasamthullal' (end-performance)

Bhapputti whc performed the 'pottan Theyyam', told the investigator later that he went in to a trance and was

possessed by the spirit. It was in that state of trance that he made prophetic untterances which the elders were to take note (U-21) of& He called out from among the audience, to the dancing yard one by one in the order of seniority and status and blessed them. Generally the devotees reciprocated with cash offerings. The investigator was also called for blessings. The last stage of Theyvam is known as 'Kottikalasam' The Theyyarn performed a dance of a vigorous kind with the accompaniments of drums and at the end removed the crown. This is known as (removal of the crown). 'mutiazhichil'

4.2.0. Actor-concept in Theyyam.

The concept of the performer in ritual art is different from the actor in a theatre. Here, the performer is prepared not to perform the art before an audience, but he performs it out of the concept of dedication to the diety. He is turned in to a divine being while in performance. In all consideration, his is a total act. Proper traditional training is necessary for

effective ritual art which functions basically as a means of uniting one's true self with the infinite power of nature.

4.2.1 Training of the performer in Theyyam.










performance, Madan Bhapputti narrated the following things to the investigator. He began his training since the age of eight under his father. There was no systematic training methods. Many of the techniques were accompanying his learned from direct observation, while seven to eight months during

father from

festival season. After learning in this way he was sent to a village to study with a famous teacher. There the training was vigorous. The session began with jumps, remniscent of Kathakali, to jump high enough to position the legs out infront of the body and touch the forehead with toes. Such types of different body movements were practj-sed. Then he was taught the special yell peculiar to make his arms and hands vibrate, and various dancesequences. The names of important shrines where the diety was worshipped, the special language to address temple officials and important village members during the ritual etc. were taught. This special language made performance. him a type of authority during

He told the investigator that strict discipline cvritha'] is to be observed by t.he Theyyam-performer. One to fourteen days of 'vritha' is to be observed. He would take only vegitarian food and keep celibacy. Liquor is taken by certain Theyyams, tells Bhapputti. This would make mind and body fully prepared

for t.he performance. All types of into Theyyams

' Anustanas' are incorporated

(Nampoothiri, Vishnu 1977: 2 6 ) - fhe rituals of








performer should always have the nMantrik upasana'. Bhapputti is a'manthravadi. When undergoing 'vritha' and painting the face,

taking the costumes, he has to murmur the mantras.


'~bhina~a' in Theyyam and 'Natyasastra'

= .


four aspects






'~ngika,~adhika', '~har~a'and'Satvika' are incorporated in to the enaction of Theyyam. This is supported by A.K.Nambiar


Tie character is imposed on 'the actor' in theatre, while 'God' is imposed on the performer in Theyyam. In this respect, he points outf;hd$heyvam is a theatre. The 'thauryathrika' (keethai, '~rith~am' andCvadyad) is included in the whole performance of Thevvam. As the actors take the role of unwordly characters in the body painting and costumes, they try to bring in some divine aspects. The heavy and high head -gear, artificial eyes, claws, 'Chilampu' and masks make the act.or different. The intonation and dialogue are also extraordinary by their peculiar

stylisation.Artaudls theory that the actor should be different, he is like a magician by his craft and appearance is

anticipated in this ancient ritual.


Transformation and transportation, When asked about the transformation and transportation of

the performer, the informant told the investigator the following detailst. After the make-up the performer looks into Valkannadi. There occurs the meeting of God by the performer and here

onwards his transformation takes place. sensuous and decorative costume

The masks

and highly into an

lift the performer

extra-ordianry realm of unworldliness.

But all the while., this

transformation occurs, he is aware of the role he is to perform. But he is not aware that he is aware. The 'flow' in the actor is

there, during performance the mind is aware of the surroundings and action. When asked about the transportation, he replied that Then he feels But to regain

this happens only.after the head-gear is removed. that he has returned to his original self.

completely that feeling, it would take three or four hours.


Belief of the performer When asked about their belief in the divine, Bapputti and

his son Gopalan had diverse opinions.

The father said that

during performance, the power of the diety came to him from recitation of special sacred syllables or mantras (He himself is a 'Mantravadi'). This gave him power to perform the necessary But the son in his own

ritual, dance and speak to the audience.

characteristic way of modernity t.old the investigator that he sees Thevvam as a performing a r t : having nothing to do with religious conviction. He believes himself to be a good performer Here

and his ability came from his own training and stamina.

also we have to acknowledge the changing nature of Thevyam from ritual to theatre.


Some moments of drama in Theyyams

The dramatic









nearer of


theatre by

are the





presentation Thevvams

dialogues 'Pottan

'Kolakkaran' in the are loud

certain the in


Theyyam', etc.




'the deaf'

theatrical. Also

'Paniyan Theyyam', the stylised way in which '~aniyan' is taught the alphabet is highly a dramatic entertainment. In 'Vishnu Moorthy Theyyam', the myth 'Iliranyavadam' is taking place as a high drama. In 'Bali Theyyam' the dramatic quality achieves a further dimension. 'The scenes how Bali bends Ravana by his tail, the dissuading scene of Bali by Thara at the eve of going to fight with Sugreeva, the dialogue between Bali and Rama, the acrobatic scene of the .monkeys etc. provide theatre in essence. Here ritual goes to theatre and returns.

In the 'Makkopothi Theyyarn' theatre is in full flourish. The affection shown by 'Makkopathi' towards her children, giving water to them, the labour pain enacted etc. are full of dramatic sequences- The 'Ramayana Theyyam" which is enacted in the famous Andalloor 'Kavu' near Thalasseri is full of drama. All the

important characters '~ama'( 'Daivathar' ) , '~akshmana'('~ngakarai)


~ a ~ ~ u r a (Hanuman), n' '~eetha,Leva, Kusa



are enacted


Theyyams. The dramatic scenes like .the search of 'sitar, the the journey to 'lank; etc. are enacted. The loneliness of '~ama; performer's histrionic talent is put in to full test. He appears to be a good actor,inspite of his divine self,by using the whole body for the enactment.


Status reversal of the actor in Theyyam.

Some rituals show ritual inversion. ' l ' h e liminal nature of the ritual inversion is a mechanism invented by every culture, particularly the pre-literate cultures for resolving the

contradiction in a society. crosses over the cultural

(Turner, 1977:167). and

The performer


uses the ritual to

criticise the society to ensure conformity of the individuals to the social norms. The field data show the very same cultural mechanism. This happens in Theyyam-rituals of all the castes in varying degrees. The lower the caste in hierarchy, the more intense the status reversal appears to be. The 'Pottan Theyyam' abuses, reviles and even physically mal-treat the highest

authority with unusual aggressive temper. It is here the status reversal happens to Theyyam. He calls out the land lords to kneel and lie down in the dust. His language becomes very cutting , bordering on obscenity, r i u ~ playing the role of comedian, now that of divine person, he continues to amuse the crowd.

j f performance liminality has two meanings In the theory c

(1) in









transparent the opaque surface of social life. (ii) As all norms of day-today life is relaxed, it is a licence during which

anything can take place. In Thevvams both these aspects are seen. In trance the Theyyam-performer speaks out the frustration and resentment of the community. The social norms are relaxed in which the whole celebration is givenanairof enchantment. This is what happens in 'Pottan Theyyam' performance. In any performance, the playful nature is integral to liminal stage. In 'Pottan

Theyyam' there is the mixture of playfulness and seriousness. The

'pottan' speaks out nonsensical things, which would make the devotees laugh, at the same time what he says will be taken seriously. His jokes are cutting and penetrating social

criticisms, his scaring the people is playful

Even at the

serious moments of playing with fire, he tries to make people laugh. In the status inversion role, he is enacting the

collective wish of the people he represents, which is the plural reflexibility


Theyyam: a theatre of cruelty.

The ritual art form of Theyyam demands from the performer a total sacrifice on his part. This sacrificial aspects of the actor in the theatres of Artaud and Grotowski are analysed in chapter 111. lnspite of the st.renuous 'Vrithanustanas' before performance, and hard endurance during long performance with the heavy head-gears some times, the performer is expected to sustain the physical strength through out. In some


performances, the performer inflicts self-injury on his body. He injures his head, sometimes blood oozing out, jumps in to the fire, pierces knife through his mouth, dips hands in the boiling oil. This expression of masochism can be traced back to

premordial tribal rituals. Certain T_heyyams like '~antakkarnan' fix the burning torches on its body, enduring the terrible heat

- like 'Pottan' and 'Ottakkolam' would walk on throughout. Theyyams


In a Theyyam - called

'Umrr~attikuliyan' there is a fierce

ritual which is rem.inding of human sacrifice in 'Kali pooja'. In this Theyyam, the .last ritual is 'uchabali', symbolic of human sacrifice. Here, the arm and the leg of the performer would be tied tightly, and these parts would be pierced with an iron

needle and the blood would burst out. This blood-bath is carried out at noon time. With the quick loss of blood, the performer may become unconscious during the performance. At this stage, he would be carried away like a deadbody, with a new cloth-covering. This is enacted like a human sacrifice. The performer here rises up to the concept oE the actor in Artaud and Grotowski. The basis of this is the total sacrifice of the actor in a ritual theatre.


Audience in Theyyam.

The discussions of



~rotowski2 Theatres in

Chapter I11 revealed that they were centred arond building a new relationship between the actor and the audience. This is the

fundamental concept in all ritual theatre. There might not have been the division between the actor and the audience in tribal dances. The spirit prevails even now in all ritual performances. the low

The bond of enactment might have been taken upon by castes by a historical necessity.

Inspite of this, the people

this ritual art are participants and not who come to witne~~s spectators. According to the status one enjoys in the social world, one is spatially posit.ioned during performance. The

Brahmins occupy

a space further away from the shrine, Nayars

a raised platform covered

(being next to the hierarchy) occupy by a tile- roof closer to

the complex. "~annan' and '~ala~an'

performers, socially lower than 'the Thiyyas' occupy the space at the back of the compound.


Environmental Involvement






The performance in open fields.

- space

of Theyyam is in sacred groves or actor and spectator share the


experiences under the vast expanse of the sky in the lap of nature. rock, in The performance may take place under a tree, on a a wide only open Eor the field,, a period. temporary There is thatched the hut



experiences of the spectator.

Schechner points out that in the who

environmental theatre, people get involved with the actor is an amateur transformed into C;od (1973 : 108).

Human beings are understood as integral parts of nature in Theyyam. This is seen in the importance given to the trees In Theyyam-celebration, The 'pipal' tree is

and animals in the concept of Theyyam.

tree-symbolism plays an important role.

associated with fairies, 'Gulikan' with 'Chempakam', nimb tree with 'Kali' etc. Informants said that Theyyam was originally

celebrated under the pipal tree or banian tree, and later on it was celebrated in sacred groves. 'Pottan' and 'Gulikan' are

decorated almost totally with coc:onut-palms.

In many Theyyams,

the facial decorations are either in the form of a leaf, flower or fruit of venerated trees. most the of folkgod the Pulaya 'Kanjiram' is a prominent tree in 'Kottams'. The 'mudi ' It of represents Theyyam is


usually patterned after the shapes of a fruit or a leaf. The heart shape of a 'pipal'-tree-leaf is a common pattern. Some of the Theyyam-danccs for y . 'Culiknn' begins clnncc by T h e 'pottan - Theyyam' i~nying ju m ~ s

respect to the tree 'chempakam'. into,as

a ritual, the glowing charcoal hea

made out of the or 'Chempakam'. t k i e sy~~tbol of the animal-

special wood of particular trees such In some Theyyams, spirits are animals. Eg

. Tiger -Theyyams ( ~ u l

further. In 'Pottan Theyyam', In the 'Muthappan Theyyam', the after the horn of a

of a buffalo, patterned

~uthappan'. Goat and 'Pulimaranja is according This points


4.3.2. Catharqis in Theyyam.

The identification of the spectator

the theatre of Theyyam is almost complete. T e spectator forgets that he is only a spectator, he feel

participant. The Theyyam-ritual is usually

ith the performer in





to spend a

sleepless night. In all the mystic tradition, loss of sleep is an important point for getting in touch with one's inner energy.

Loss of sleep in rhythmic performance such 7s drumming, dancing and singing of relaxes the performers who getting intouch with the slowly go through a unconscious. of When the


investigator participated Theyyam appeared or that Mudiyettu a

in the



the same experienc



was undergone. It the

participatory- trance was experienced by

entire crowd by the rhythmic dance, the div'ne features of the painted face of the dieties, the elabor te headgears, the

personifications of the qualities of gods,

he ritual offerings

of birds and anima1.s etc. The symbolism of the painted design, the colours, the musical accompaniments, the chant, the drum and 'thudi', the rhythmic jumping and running, all go in for a

hypnotic effect in t.he crowd. The:y also of rhythmic fervour, the whole colour, leave a lasting effect

to erupt in frenzy sounds, movements This is the 1111 (N-22):

experience of catharsis

4.3.3. Mvths in Theyyam and audience.

All Thevvams are structured upon myth houses of archetypal There are images two representinq of


which are treasureexperience of and lower

past life.


mythsC higher

incorporated in to Theyyam. The myths in E ics and the Vedas are called higher myths but local stories about heroes and heroines form the lower myths. Egs. of higher are that and of



'Vishnumoorthi', 'Ramayana Theyyam', myths

'Potta '



'Muchilott Bhagavathi', 'Huthappan' e/c.

Some times the

higher myths may influence lower myths, chabging it completly.

(Eg. The Theyyam '~vermakkal). The function awaken a feeling of shared experience

f the myth is to the audience.

Underlying the myth of

' Paniyan-'Theyyam' tht e is the fear of

s incorporated in

death. A beautiful myth of untouchability Pottan Theyyam. According to Kavalam,

"Myths and rituals being the tradi .onal links enrich our art forms...

Only by diving

eep in to ancient a blood

myths and rituals and establishin!

- relation

with them, we can creat.e new myths snd rituals, there by interpret life and get ex& rience,

knowledge and craft" (1988:19).



Costume has different functions in the tre-activities. It plays an indispensable also as role in the the consummat: g externt four a ritual art.

Natyasastra 'aharyabhinaya

stresses one of

representation, types of

pr lcipal

representation or interpretation through wh: h dance and drama succeed in conveying to the audience, the aF ropriate aesthetic experiences, Bharatha calls it'nepathyabhinaj four kinds of costumes and make up

It consists of

(i) li ing objects, (ii)

models (iii) Painting of the body (iv) decorat on of the body.


Theyyam-Costume. In the very colour display Theyyam-cosl me creates a mystic











identification,dignity, symbolic meaning, magic potency, caste feelings etc. During the ritua1,the costume manipulated by the artistes will provide a moving, dynamic and three dimensional sensation to the audience.

In the transformation, the Theyyams

are treated as Gods or Goddesses and the officiating priest would do all the poojas (offerings) to them as to the dieties. Thus the costume does the function of transforming the characters to a ritual level. For eg

'Muchilott Bhagavati' or 'Pottan-Theyyam'

are realistic charac'ters of the social order with a progressive behaviour against the upper hierarchy. By the observance of their costume and make-up, they were elevated or merged to devotional and ritual heights.Thi.5 is the foundation of Theyyam philosophy in its costume and make-up.


Materials used, in Theyyam-decorat.ion.

The decoration of Theyyam is done only above the person's waist. Below the waist the Tkyyam is left without much


except covering

the part with

starched cloth for

elegant round shape. The material:; used for costume are easily and directly available from nature. Tender coconut leaves, rice powder ('arichattu') for the white colour, charcoal ('Kari') for the black colour, turmeric for the yellow colour, are the basic items. Different combinations of these basic colours are also used. For eg. in

hottan-h hey yam:

coconut leaves are used in place

of clothe and other exposed part of the body is painted with rice


and turmeric.


colours embody theirown meaning and

concepts. The materials generally used for the construction of head-dresses are arecnut, light soft-wood planks of 'murik'.

Flowers, coloured clothes and coconut-leaves are the general items for Theyyam make-up.

In the performance of Theyyam, the use of ornaments and flowers is an important element. Most of the ornaments are made from coconut leaves and soft wood 'murik'. Enlarged necklace and ears are made of soft wood with golden paper coating. It is to be pointed out here that the ornamerlts used in Theyyam-performance became a common property This influence is due for other performing arts in Kerala. to the acculturisation and social

hierarchical domination over Theyyams. The head dress is the soul s of Vaishnavaorig-in, which must have been of Theyyam. The m a m the last to be integrated in the Theyyam- dance such as 'Vishnumoorthi', 'Daivathars' 'palott



sophosticated crowns as their head dress. The crowning ceremony ('Mudiyettu') is done on the step (nada) infront of the

installation of the main diety in the 'Kottam' or sacred grove ('Kavu'). It is done in the solemn atmosphere of singing and
n( drumnlng and dancing. After the 'Mudiyettu' the Theyyam becomes

the diety.

4.4.3 Significance of weapons in Theyyam. The weapons used in Theyyarns - have varied meanings. They

are so important that in the grove, the weapons are installed to represent different dieties especially those of the Theyyams of the category of heroes. in Theyvams of great Bapputti told the researcher that dimensions, weapons are more


important than food itself. kinds of weapons.

Almost all dieties use various

The devotees consider them as symbols of

protection and security, hence the importance of weapons in Theyyam-cult. arrow, Some of the best known weapons are bow and shield and other local weapons such as

sword and

'Chedakarn', 'Pallival', '~aduthila', 'Churika', 'Kathi' etc. Women-Theyyams generally use sword, shield and knife.



This is the pictorial

representation of

the face of

different particular Theyyams. The researcher is told by the informants that writings on the face symbolically evoke feeling of awe, wonder, devotion and reverence. Through the and

'Mukhathezhuthu' the devotee gets a particular meaning message. animals, facial For eg. The writings shapes of are mostly borrowed and nature to leaves. and the

fromfeatures of The names of of

flowers the




design. the eye

'nathum kannu'


shape of

of a kind of bird similar to owl. conch and the stool)

'Sankum peedavum' (means means the


writing after the design of the panther, often the myths of the nevyams arereferrcdtosvmbolically through the facial writings.


General functions of masks A mask is a distinguishing feature of primitive

celebration. writing.

It must have been the archetype of modern facial have been used as means of social control


because of their awe-inspiring nature.

They have also been

used for religious experience as a powerful medium or mediating to the people the overpowering reality of the sacred. world. Masks are also used as a means of transformation. In the most

general sense a mask is a disguise which covers the wearer and thereby conceals or transforms his identity (Moore, 1977 : 55). Masks are sometimes used for social entertainment clowning and in


such as scaring people

for fun or

totemic religious rites.


Types of masks and their functions

i) Richard Schechner deals with various types of masks and their function in the theatre. There are three types of

masks (1982 : 70), the mask that completely covers the face as i n t h e chau'mask or the Balinese topeng mask or the Korean Mask or Indian -chau: Here, during performance the body including Since the

the head is moved as a unit, by tilting the head.

mask doesn't change, it allows the audience-imagination to work and really paint and play with that mask. The mask is seen beautiful

but blank, and invites the audience to paly. The second type is

as seen in .Xal&.&gcac

or .Uthakali'. Here the face is painted The painted

so heavily that the actor has also a transformation.

face allows for more naturalistic acting, the 'bhava' can show through,allowing the expression and improvisation (iii) the third is the facial mask or the body-mask (as Grotowski visualised in his poor theatre). The body-mask .is an attempt in a way to make Here like a wood carver,the actor

the face like a solid mask. can do whatever he wants.

Each of these three masks has a way of

changing the face into a semiotic system or a system of poses.

To a question by Ayyappa Panikkar regarding what happens when the body is fully masked as in Theyyam, Schechner replied that in Theyyarn a full transformation into a non-human being is intended by the comp.Lete mask. "The transformation in Theyyarn

with its fabulous hallow brings the whole environment with it. The body-mask does the transformation of the total human being. The body-mask then allows the spectator and the performer to concentrate like a puppet on apparently simple manifestation each of which can experience." (Schechner, June 1982 : 70).

Vishnu Nampoothiri points out that the 'Kolakkaran' gets more freedom when using the masks (1976 : 43). vulgar language. They can use even

There is a saying 'Like the paniyan who wears They, also., are symbols of many ideas. masks

the arecanut sheath'.

Some Theyyams like 'Kundarachamundi.', 'Madechamundi', use intermittently in performance, to represent the


re-incarnations of ' ~ a l'i and Vishnu. He also points out that the use of masks in Theyyam influenced the later classic arts like Cankakkali, Kummatti, Krishnanattom - and even Cathakali.

The evaluation of the ma.sks in Theyyam. is done here because, they have an important influence in the modern Malayalam Theatre which is to be studied later.


Properties used in Theyyam; Yavanika, lamps . and-peedom.

Some of the theatrical objects which found their way intMalayalam Theatre later were used as ritual objects in Thevvam* Just before the conmencement of the singing, the performer

receives a large banana leaf from the officiating priest. The leaf contains five liyhted wicks, an arecanut, five betel leaves, turmeric powder and a small amount of uncooked rice. The priest passes the lighted wicks over the idol of Tgevyam to transmit power. The lighted wicks transfer this power of the deity from the idol inside the shrine to the performer- Bapputti told the investigator that the five lighted wicks represent the five

elements- air, fire, space, water and earth. These elements are 'sakti' in a form t.hat people used by can see and concentrate on. the end of the

'Peedom' is mainly

the Theyyams at

performance, when they hear the complaints of the local people and try to solve them. The use of 'Xavanika' is there in certain Theyyams likec~annikkorumakaL.


Lighting System

Traditional lighting objects like fire- wicks

the an dams)

and 'olachoottu', made of small bundles of dried coconut leaves etc. are used. This moving lights give


atmosphere to the whole performance. 4.4.10 Musical Instruments

Many kinds o f ' musical instruments are used in Thevvam performance. Drums, cymbals, conch, 'udukku', 'kuzhal',

'perumbara', cherrnangalam and 'thudi', 'ilathalam' etc. are the most popular instruments. 4.5.0 Modernisation of Theyyam

Raghava Payyanadu points out (1978:48) that the role of Theyyarn in ancient days was that of the saviour as well as the teacher. Its make-belief charm has been lost because of the The society for rain or

scientific and economic re-setting of society. which paid oblation and offering to Theyyam

prosperity in ancient days has been changed now.

This open

endedness allowed it to become a more colourful spectacle than a ritual performance. Consequently, new technical and

theatrical innovations have occurred in Theyyam.

The influence of theatre is scen in Theyyam make-up too. Theyyam make-up artrstes told the investigator that there were times when they were not allowed to use colours other than those made from materials available from nature. Now they use

synthetic colours which are readily available in the market. Formerly, the materials for Theyyam make-up were throw-away types, now they try to make them durable. For eg. the

headgears which have been made by soft wood and glitter paper now have been replaced by metal and paints. 'Pottan' and 'Gulikan' made of The masks of been

arecanut sheaths have

replaced by durable materials.







artistes> the

paintaking process for the disciplined drilling of the art of Thevvam has been vanishing. They lack the single minded

dedication as well as devotiontothe ritual art. Contrary to the traditional performers who used the ritual performance, a full time job, the young generation t-akes it only as a part time occupation, like the actors in the amateur theatre. The social and political have been drawn to it today. realities of everyday world

It has been taken out of temple

premises, performed during touri!;m weeks, during Republic day celebrations, for political party functions. Thus the religious

and belief-part have been stripped off, and the stress on the spectacular show is given. Thle Marxist party and Sastra

Sahitya Parishad make copious use of the Theyyam symbols today. In an interesting article Ashley narrates the experiences

of taking the Theyyam of ritual performance, and

'MuchiILott Bhagavathi' .out of its performing it within the frame of

Modern Theatre (Ashley, 1982).

This was a clear illustration

that ritual arts can move towards theatre.


Mudiyettu The ritual theatre of Mudiyettu' is a typical ritual art

form for the analysis of the complex nature of the performance traditions of Kerala. theatre-performance, audience, make-up, In this art-form all the aspects of actor costume

formation, the and all other


of of



theatre, are inherent.

This ritual is conducted to appease the

residing in the sacred groves, which is usually Goddess '~ali' associated with festivals in temples. The term 'Mudiyettu' is

derived from the carriage of 'Mudi' (crown) or removing it from the head by the performer.


Myth in


The myth associated with this ritual performance is most popular in Kerala. The story goes on like this. In innumerable

wars between Devas and Asuras, the latter was destroyed almost totally, and most of the Asura-women became widows. The

prominent among them were 'Darumathi' and 'Danumathi'. After a torturous and prolonged penance, they could please '~rahma'and win from him the boons of getting two powerful sons, Darika and Danavendra. severe The two children in their turn lost themselves in and pleased Brahma. They got


from him the 'vara' (boons) that no man in the fourteen wor1.4~ of the universe would be able t . o kill them. However, they Shielded

forgot to include women in the periphery of the boon.

by these boons, they proceeded on a world conquering expedition. They brought the entire universe under their control and began to rule over the worlds. No peace loving man could live

comfortably in the world.

The great Saint Narada reported the

matter to Lord Siva who promised to take appropriate steps to annihilate the demon-kings and save the people from their tyranny and cruelty. fierce 'Kali'. the battle enacted in Then from Siva's third eye is born the

She straight away proceeded to kill Darika in The story of the killing of Darika is dramatic here way in Mudiyettu


the most Nair





"'the myth



beautiful visual art forms with t l n e aid of dramatic situation that harmoniously blend verisimil.itude and sense of horror." (1987: 38). 4.6.2 Rituals in 'Mudiyettu' The dramatic performance is preceeded by detailed ritual known as 'Kalamezhuthu'. This is the floral drawings using

natural colours such as green (made put of a particular leaf dried and powdered), white (made of rice powder), black (made of roasted and powdered paddy husk), yellow (made of turmeric powder) and red powder). (made out of powdered turmeric, lime, rice

The fierce image of '~ali'isdrawn on the ground using

these colours, 'Kalam' to be erased is the next item when the drawing is ccmpleted. 'Kalam p j a ' is performed afterwards. The next cermny is

'Thiriyuzhichil' which means dancing with holding oil-soaked burning-wicks held in the hands and weilded by way of worship. The 'Kalams' are worshipped for uprooting the evil effect of all bad spirits from their families. lit-thalams are put out. After the 'Thiriyuzhichil' the Songs in Song

Then the 'pattu' begins.

praise of Ganapathy on the creation of the 'pandaltgo on.

on '~hadrakali'describing her from top to toe is sung to the accompaniment of 'Chenda' and other percu ssion instruments.

After the songs the 'Kalam' is erased with the tender coconut leaves used for decoration.


Actor-concept in












Mudiyettu. is also relevant in the study of the ritual impact on Modern Malayalam Theatre. The actor has to undergo a vow After

which begins on the previous day of the performance.

taking bath in the early hours of the morning the actor pays oblation to the goddess 'Kali'. of the 'Veluthedan'. He has to wear only 'the mattu'

After putting on the costume and the

headgear,he is competely transformed into an unearthly being, 'Kali'. He must not touch others or speak with others either in This means that transformation

the 'Aniyara' or 'green room'. has already been at work.


Traditions and perogatives 'of the actor.

Upper Hindu Professional camunities known as 'Kurup' and ' W a r ' are in the Cochin regions the traditional performers who stage 'Mudiyettu. <~urups'

and '~arars' in the Travancore area perform the art traditionally. The right to perform Mudiyettu b r a s conferred on Varanattu Kurup

of Koratty Swaroopam traditionally. '~urup'is a communal title given even to Marar, Ezhava, 'Asari' , 'Kaniyan' and such other subcastes, namely Marar Kurup, E:zhava Kurup, Thacha Kurup and Kanikurup. Kurup is the title conferred upon the caste Hindu Nair, who had been the masters of martial Mudiyettu training and Kalari


Those who perform

now-a-days are Nairs,

Kurups and blarars. They do not allow other communities to get themselves involved in this theatrical arts since the traditional rights are exclusively conferred upon them.

There are certain folk traditions and beliefs which have

L performers. One is that, the taken deep roots among '~udiyettu

will be taken by the nephew or brothers of the head role of '~ali' of the family. For eg. Narayanakurup, nephew of 'varanatt; house

When the history of 'varanattu' of Koratty enacts the role of '~ali.: family was studied it was revealed that the right to enact the role of Bhadrakali from generation, to generation was according to matriarchical system. Another belief is that, the washer woman makes available a white piece of cloth which is called 'mattu'

and it is further purified by Kurup. But Pazhoor Damodhara Marar the great living exponent of '*iyettuf traditions have been broken because says (AI-2-3) that such of the onslaught of

modernity. Today, all. types of people

who show proficiency, in

the ritual art come forward to perform the ritual. The 'savarnas' or the high class, people perform 'Mudiyettu because the ritual art is conducted within the temple premises traditionally.


Actor training
The actor in Mudiyettu should be well-versed in

'Thauryathrika' (ie. Geetha, Nrithya, Vadya) and also he must have the intimate knowledge of all the four elements of actions i. e. ' ~ n ~ i k a ,vachika',



?;atvikabhinaya1 which


inevitable for its performance.

Bharata in Natyasastra (1, 12)

stresses the need for the actor to be an all rounder.

' Bhava '

should be combined with emotional gestures. Alons with this,arratiging the rhythmic movements of the steps is a must for the performer in Mudivettu

But it must not be pointed the out here that the pupil takes to it

For this strict and systematic training for the performer is inevitable.


imparted, is


: o r learning 'Kalamezhuthu, 3ongs anc informally from childhood (A1 2 . 2 ) . I Mudiyettu, at least five years of training is necessary 'Kalamezhuthu' and songs that are taught first.

It is

Two years'

training is needed for this.

Students in the group of ten to

sixteen years are selected for training, from the castes '~urup' and'~arars: The training is given in the houses of'Kalari ~sans: In the dance-form of 'Kuli' (N

23) it is seen the forms

'Athikrantham', 'Harinaplutham' etc. as described in Natyasastra


Among the thirteen acting types as described by Bharata 'Kampitham' are seen in the In the 'Koodiyatta' there is a

in Natyasastra, 'Akampitham' and

challenges and war scenes of 'Kali' anti '~arika: (combined enactment) scene of '~ali'and


prolonged encircling of Kali and Darika called 'Pakirithirichil1which is in tune with

' thalavadyas '

Many forms of 'Kalasams '

(dance sequences) like 'Vattakalasam', 'Edakkalasam', 'Thonkaram', 'Eratty', 'Astakalasam' etc. are taught to the people. can be pointed out that all form:; of 'Kalasams' in might have been refined forms taken from Here, it Kathakali


It is

very obvious from the analysis that how intensly the actor in 'Mudiyettu is prepared before the performance.


Acting Score

'~udiyettu'is a ritual is a ritual close to the concept of theatre in many respects. All the three elements of But the actor The

theatre (?hauryathriki) are incor.porated into it.

need not show the gestures as in modivattom or Kathakali.

Angikabhinaya is divided into three 'Irunnattom', 'Pathinjattom' 'Ilakiyattom'. freedom of In the 'Ilakiyai:tom8, the actor has all the can whirl or jump. Usually, this

movements, he

'attom' is used to express the rasas, the fierceness, wonder, or fear. In Mudiyettu' the character 'Kali', 'Darika' and

'Danavendra' have all these aspects of '~bhina~a'. After the 'Ilakiyatta', there is the scene of 'Ayudhanottam' (looking into the weapons). and 'Darika'. It is the scene of sharpening the weapons of ~ali'

All the characters will take part in the 'Pathinjattom' of the battle scene.

As the battle progresses 'Pathinjattom' shifts

It is in the battle scene The

into 'Ilakiyattcm' which ends in 'Kdiyattcm'.

that all the characters show the best elements of theatre.

two styles of '~oodi~attom' 'Vikshepam Veesuka' '~ranguperumattom' (Behaviour on the stage) are incorporated in to Mudiyettu-.

The main characters in


show great 'bhavabhinay;.

In the challenging and fighting scenes of '~ali' and '~arika' the. labhinayasslyles prescribed by Bharatha 'Akampitha' and 'Kampitha' are shown like giving hints, advice., questions, instructs etc. are shown by the heads ('Akampithabhinayal)= In the fighting

styles of '~ali' and '~arika'various movements and steps of 'Kalari' are incorporated* The character Koimpidanayar acts with

rhythmetic steps. He does not dance like other characters- Thus Mudi~ettu has got a systematic acting-score.

4.6.7. Transformation and transportation of the performer.

When asked about the transformat.ion and transportation while enacting,Damodara Marar stated this (AI. 2 - 4 ) . .

"I usually enact

the role of Kali- Even when I begin

the 'Vrithanustana', i feel the transformation already taking place in me. But all the while, I have the feeling I should make my performance of Mudiyettu

successful as spectacle. While I perform the role of Kali, there is also the feeling of the actor in me, though some times i t . trespasses towards a kind of trance.. In Pallippattu, there had an incident that in to an actual

Kali actually killed Darika, getting

trance. But I feel this kind of transformation is not good for the performance". He says that the breaking

up of

the balance of the performer happens because of the The transportation takes place

breaking up of the 'rhythm'.

without any external aid, though Kali, when out of control should be physically held by other!; and brought under control. For this the sword in the hands of Kali would be made to pierce on the ground. 4.6.8 The actor thereby regains his self.

From Ritual to Theatre in Eudiyettuq How the ritual performance of '~udiyettu'comes almost The the

near to theatre is illustrated by the following examples. theatrical quality of this ritual is illustrated in

introduction of the unritualistic character 'Koimpadanayar' in the third scene of Mudiyettu

. S.K.





character reminds us of 'Ittikkandappakaimal' in 'Yatrakali' (N. 24) He comes to the stage like a nayar-chieftain and poses questions to the'melakkars' and converses with them. Damodhara Marar (A-12.8)

says that this character has got a dramatic function in the myth itself. He is actually 'Nandikesa' (the carriage of Siva) who

comes to aid and appease Kali, who imitates what all things he enacts in the performance. He also dilutes the fierce tempo of

the enactment, by providing comic relief to the audience through his comic dialogues. social criticisms During this time he lets loose a volley of against the society. Another 'Koolies'. powerful In the

dramatic function is carried out by the

fighting scene '~ali' stands with anger and Darika is positioned in the middle of the stage ready to fight with'~a1i.' In between them there are '~oolies with their ridiculous gestures.

Koolies are laughing and foolishly behaving. of characters can be seen in classical

These two extremes as well as folk


G. Sankara Pillai points out that it provides an

extra-ordinary theatrical beauty to the whole performance,achieved by an aesthetically contrasting mixture of the sublime as well as the ridiculous (1990 : 3 8 5 ) . Catharsis: a theatre-function











contexts of a religious tradition.

There, the characters are Here the performance is The

above the secular and mundance world.

ritualistic and not secular, or it is supposed to be so.

audience here is both participant and spectator, as a spectator : j a participant, he involves he witnesses the enactment and a himself in the religious act. He is a believer here, and

therefore, there is 'no willing suspension of disbelief' as in theatre. sequence But we see in of satire, Mudiyettu

.Theyyam or

Padayani or


irreverance , vulgarity


incorporated,as in the characters 'Paradesi', 'Pattarum-Pennum', in 'Padayani (A 11.


and ' ~oim~adanayar' in


This actually brings the ritual arts closer to Theatre. this introduced? the ritual arts?

Why is

Is this against the ethos of spirituality in Has it got connection with therapeutic aspect

of drama as with Artistotle or ~reud't Here it is worthy to quote Ranjini and Gananath: "Ritual drama is In a this collective case, we phenomenon, could not an that



psychological anxiety endemic to the group or a source of group concern is handled through obscenity in drama. It is therefore fair to say that humour in ritual drama is a form of catharsis. religion, vicariously The group by virtue of a shared participates in the ritual

enactment and purges t h e : i r

own internal terrors and (1976:69)

anxiety through communally shared humour."

Here the comic catharsis is almost reverse of tragic catharsis. But here we have to remember also that in some ritual dramas where this ritual element is not. there, the catharsis occurs through the Aristotilian process, there the audience identify themselves with the mythological characters represented on the stage, the emotions of pity and terror are aroused and

subsequently purged at the culmination of the drama. what happens in Mudiyettu and padayani

This is


Mudiyettu as Theatre, Sampoorna Mudiyettu. Ritual towards theatre.

It is interesting to note here that how the veteran Pazhoor Damodara Marar tried to take this traditional ritual art-form almost closer to a theatre performance and to analyse his experiences. (AI. 2-13). He tried to present it like a He calls

theatre-form without losing its ritual qualities. this form ' ~ a m ~ o o r Mudiyettu n~ he created a sacred

For the movement of 'Vethala' grove where Vethala

meets 'Kali' and offers his help to her to kill Darika. It was presented for about six hours with thirty two actors through

thriteen scenes. It was a tremendous success as a spectacle. He told the investigator that more than the devotee in him, it was the artist who succeeded the theatre in this in its presentation- He witnesses that

ritual art


got projected

and won

success, the ritual aspect lingered in the background. This had been a great example how a ritual can be taken to theatre with success.

4.6.11 The ConceDt of the director in Mudiyettu.

The above example inevitably leads us to a question of the director in a ritual art-form. In Theyyam it is the father, or the grand father or the uncle of the performer. Here, it is the head of the family as Pazhoor, himself was. The whole performance was conducted under his leadership. The leader or 'the Asan' as he is called

, should





'Kalamezhuthu pattu


'Mudiyettu'. He is the soul of the art-form-like the director in a theatre. He has got a high status in a society. He would be invited 'evento the functions of the upper class society. It is through him the problems of the society are solved. Through him, thus, the ritual art becomes an integral part of the society.


Audience in


As in all ritual performance,, the audience here is less a

spectator and more a participant. They go to witness


as devotees, although theatrical entertainment is provided (as through 'Koimpidanayars' and '~oolies). But as Pazhoor points out they are more devotees, as they come with of serving 'penance' or 'vrithas'. These people never enactment of 'Mudiyettu get tired of seeing the same

through five or six days, because there

(A1 2-71. Had

is the devotional elements in them

it been a

theatre-event, they would have become bored. The actors and the audience are in an environmental theatre as M i y e s t u is often

or in temple premises. The performed in 'Sacred groves ( K ~ I V U ) vast expanse is taken as the venue of the performance-place.

4.7.1 Audience-Status

The main section of the audience will be Hindus as they alone or temple premises. Amony the are. allowed to enter these '~avus' ~indus,the upper class will the majority. There would be

: l e managers and the family members at three types of audience, t the front, Nayars and upper class people just behind them, the workers who remain as mere spectators at the back. and

4.7.2Audience belief.

Obviously, the spectators here have come not for theatrical experiences, they experience of have come here to share the metaphysical unknowingly enjoy the




theatrical aspects in it. They enjoy the spectacles of rituals like 'Thalappoli', 'Kalamezhuthu', 'Kalampattu', 'Ezhunnellippu' and 'Mudiyettu' as in a theatre. But,for them it is not an

entertainment, but a offering


It is performed for

often as an the cure of

for begetting children, employment,

illness etc.

The audience here is 'static' in the sense that

they repeatedly like to witness the ritual of 'Mudiyettu'.

As in environmental theatre, is the actor audience communication taking place in Mudiyettu. After the killing Of Darika, Kali whirls her torch ipandam;) around the audience. This is the symbol, that all the bad elements due to the rule of Darika is exorcised. In the refrains of the battle scenes also,



this performance*





sitting on the peedom. In the fifth scene 'Vedala' with a torch in his hand approaches the audience and asks for 'Kaineettom'

(offering of money) from the audience. This is done as a comic enactment. This communication is heightened more by the

theatrical arrangement of performance. The different exist and entry passages, different levels the divine location etc. are skilgully made use of by the performers. The interpolation of

comic episodes and such situations in the course of the ritual intensity.. heightens dramatxc mundane section give of the This provides amusement to the lingos used in the be

spectators, The to the



spectators. There will

punning upon words, spoonarisum, ob~scene comments etc.


relationship between man and woman is blantantly referred to colloquial slangs, which provide. a hilarious atmosphere. The

comic effect is heightened in the scene of coming of a man into a new

locality without knowing the colloquial language there and tries to communicate. Thus, through riitual and through theatre the actor-audience relationship is established in ~udiyeftu

4.7.4. Audience participation* Influence of Myth

The influence

myths the



t l h e of


art - form still

usually further.


the audience

'~arika ~ a d h d (killing of Darika) is a myth that forms popular ritualistic art-forms in Kerala. The myth is very popular in Kerala because of the innumerable goddess- temples and (sacred groves ). when it is enacted in Mudiyettu 'Kavu'

the emotional

involvement is heightended, as the audience is already familiar with the myth. 4.8.1. Costumes -in 'Mudiyettu'

Theatre functions.

The dramatic appeal of

Mudiyettu' is by far augmented by a

convincing transformation of men i.n to Devas and Asuras by the ingeni.ous use of costumes. This: is evident from the visual

level masks, make-up, costume and choreographic patterns- Darika puts on a costume reminding the 'Kathiveksha' of Dhuryodhana or Ravana. The head-gear and face-palinting is almost the same. He adorns himself with 'uttariyam', the shawl which is pure white cloth, rings and bangles are used as ornaments. 'Thechi' flowers

will be used as a ring in the left hand. The back portion of the White cloth is folded many times costume is that of the '~hak~ar'. to make up elevated buttocks. Another white cloth is used as a

long under garments '~hurukas',tridents are held in both hands.

K a l i w i l l b e p u t t i n g on t h e costume n e x t .

The f a c e w i l l be r i c e powder and

completely darkened w i t h ' K a r i ' .

A p a s t e made o f













' C h u t t i k u t h a l ' . T u r m e r i c powder and l i m e m i x t u r e l i n e s a r e g i v e n

on t h e f a c e i n between numerous w h i t e d o t e s t o r e s e m b l e s m a l l
p o x - p i t s o r pox marks. Curved l o n g t e e t h i s drawn on e i t h e r s i d e over t h e red l i p s . f o r e h e a d , t h r e e of the h e l p of 'Thechi' them, f l o w e r i s r i p p e d and a f f i x e d on t h e

on t h e n e c k , on t h e n o s e , and jaw w i t h (rice flour). The appearance




f i e r c e . The h e a d g e a r w i l l b e a l m o s t l i k e a n a r c h d e c o r a t e d w i t h 'Kuruthola' like that ( t e n d e r c o c o n u t l e a v e s ) . The ' u d u t h u k e t t u ' o f 'Darika; Then the other characters would be Siva,


' ~ a r a d a ; bhanava ; ~ o i r n ~ i d a r' 'v,e t h a l a ' and ' ~ o o l i 'w i l l be costumed. The costume of ' ~ a n a v e e r a 'o r ' ~ a n a v e n d r a ' , t h e The w a i s t - d r e s s elder brother of


i s green i n colour.

i s l i k e t h a t of

f o l d e d costume o f ' ~ a r i k a ' . Red i s used f o r 'Danavendra'on t h e f a c e a s h e i s a demon.

The costume o f ' ~ a r a d a ' i s v e r y s i m p l e w h i t e dress. H a i r d r e s s i s t h e same as


is h i s
Beard For

used i n ' W h a k a l i ' . 'Grantha'

i s w h i t e , t h e r e would b e a p a l m - l e a f

i n h i s hands.

S i v a and ' ~ o i m ~ i d a n a ~ a ;t,h e f a c e would be o f H a i r d r e s s i s t h a t of f o r Koimpatanayar,


' ~ i n u k k u ' ~eksham'. V e l a k a l i i s used


Costume o f

shield i n l e f t

hand and s h a r p p o i n t e d s m a l l

sword i n r i g h t hand and t u r b a n on t h e head.

The ' ~ o o l i e s w ' i l l h a v e o n l y b l a c k costumes. Black i s a p p l i e d

on the face. The dreiss is made up of dried plantain-leaf etc. Breasts are' moulded by fixing coconut shell-halves on

the chest. Face will be blackened first and multi-coloured dots will be marked on it. Tender coconut leaves, garlands and twigs of plants adorn the waist -dress. the breast, Many tender neck ornaments, leaves


jackets on


around neck, flower garlands, bunches of flowers made in to enters with a long pointed garlands over the breasts. 'vethala.' stick and branches of tress in his hands.

The costume of Kathakali the waist. 'Mudiyettu


reminds us of the costume of Chakyarkoothu below

above the waist and those of Kathakali

might have adopted these costumes from

. The

influence of the ancient theatrical art-form of

m o t ivattom and Chakyar K o o s u can be traced in the presentation

4 . 8 . 2 Chuttikkaran (make-up _man!


All the costumes in Mudi~ettu are done by the Chuttikkaran (make-up artistlwho is an expert in the field. He must know about the different aspect:; of Aharyabhinaya. The style of costume The

would be to give the impression of the unworldliness. 'Chuttikkaran' creates the dramatic concept of


through his costume design. It is he who selects the dress, the ornaments and coloura of the characters in Mudivett_u

He is

the artist as well as the craftsman who designs the theatre of ;i4udiyettu

4.8.3Properties used a7 the staae.

In the texture of ritual arts of Kerala, the place of certain articles like 'Yavanika' '1?eedom1 and 'Nilavilakku' have significant theatrical functions. These three stage props have been taken here for special study because they have great

bearings upon the Modern Malayalam Theatre.

The use of 'Yavanika' has got a great theatrical function in 'uudiyettu'. Pazha'or says that during early days it was pure white cloth with no border or any other decoration that was used as the 'Thirassila' then. But now-a-days 'the '~hirassila'has

undergone many modifications and has been made as attractive as that of Kadhakali


Those who hold

'Thirassila' should also

shout cheers and shoilld sprinkle rice powder, 'Thellippodi' for the entrance of '~alj.. Chummar opines that '~hirassili was not used formerly in 'rnliyettu' (1950:214). Now, for the entrances of important characters like '~ali' and Darika, ~hirassila' is

used. In traditional theatre-forms of Kerala, there had never been the habit of separating the performer from the audience. This may be because of the infrluence of Koodiyattgm and



function of 'Yavanika'

The different episodes of the story to be enacted might have been happening in different places. The intimation of these different places and the sequence of events should be conveyed to the audience. In the traditional art-forms this is done not in the realistic way. Here the use of 'Thirassila' is pertinent. The first scene in Mudiyettu happens in 'Kailasam'. Siva is on

his carriage Nandikesan and Narada complaints to Siva reading a 'Varola'. An ingenious, use of 'Yavanika' is seen here. It is

held almost up to the waist of Sivau Above it Siva will be holding the head of a wooden ox. The second scene is presenting

Darika conquest. Behind theryavanika Kali will be standing, the back at the audience, replying to the challenges of'~arika'. It is supposed that '~arikaiis challenging Kali from above 'the udayaparvatham', and 'the asthamayaparvatham' and the distant 'Yamakoodaparvatham'. The 'Yavanika' gives us the hint that Kali is somewhere there.

Another function of 'Yavanika' is to project the entrance of important characters. As the stage is very vast, the

entrances are very important. In the first scene of


Siva and Narada are appearing. In the hands of Siva, there would be the wooden head of an ox. He will be moving this on the edge Of 'Thirassila' from right to left, forward and backward. First Siva would show his head above it, and then both characters come





t h e importance of

the f i r s t character is

shown t h r o u g h



f o r t h e f i r s t e n t r a n c e of
I t must be

'Darika' and 'Danavendra', ' ~ a v a n i k a 'i s : u s e d . t h a t f o r t h e e n t r a n c e o f 'Koimpidanayar: as


said here

'Yavanika' For area the

i s n o t used,
entrance of







t h i s i s used.

Thus i n t h e v a s t

. of t h e s t a g e ,

p o r t i o n of it i s p r o j e c t e d t h r o u g h t h e u s e of



'Yavanika' a s a [ ) a r t o f a c t i o n .


i s u:jed a s a p a r t o f a c t i o n sometimes. For e g .

royal s t a t u r e t o t h e c h a r a c t e r s ' ~ a r i k a 'and
I t i s i n t h e movements

it i s p r o v i d i n g a

Danava' a t t h e t i m e o f

t h e i r entrances.

'Yavanika' s u c h a f u n c t i o n i s g i v e n ( N o t e 2 5 ) .

How ' ~ a v a n i k a becomes ' meeting p o i n t








of b a r i k a ' and ' ~ a l i . Here




'Darika' views ' ~ a l i ' . Then ' K a l i ' s t r i k e s a t 'Darika ' who d i s a p p e a r s behind t h e c u r t a i n . sequence 'Yavanika' today, Now, This is repeated becomes a part..

Thus i n t h e a c t i o n In the changing theatre

c o n t e x t of importance.

t h e concept of symbols

'Natyadharmi' actions

i s g i v e n much
Even an



empty s p a c e becomes p a r t o f t h e s t a g e . t h e a t r i c a l c o n t e x t s , d o e s n o t have stage.



i n t h e modern

r e a l i s t i c f u n c t i o n on t h e

I t d o e s t h e s y m b o l i c f u n c t i o n on t h e s t a g e i n most c a s e s .

I n t h e s p e c t a c u l a r and 'Yavanika' was in

stylised ritual


t h e u s e of

a s t y l i s e d manner,


i n t h e modern

theatrical contexts, it does nothavea realistic function on the stalge. It does the ~iymbolicfunction on the stage on most cases. In the spectacular (and stylised ritual art-forms, the use of 'Yavanika' had a stylised function, therefore, in the modern

concept of 'Natyadharmi' theatre the role of 'Yavanika' is great* It is in the simplicity of its use and its functions on the stage the importance of 'Yavanikat lies. Pazhoor also stresses the theatrical function* of 'Yavanika' more than its ritual

functions. (AI-2-10).

4.8.7 Peedom

The theatrical function of 'Peedom' in 'pudiyettu' is very significant. It contributes to the dramatic elements of the

performance. In 'Mudiyettu , it is firstly used to project the characters on the stage. In the challenging scene of barika' with '~ali;we see its skilful use. Standing ~n this peedom, '~arika challenges Kali'. 11; symbolises sometimes hills and mountains. It may be used for the temporary retreat of characters. Kathakali and In

Koodiyatt-om , the more ingenious and theatrical

use of peedom can be seen. It becomes sometimes a throne, a garden bench etc. The symbolic use of this 'peedomt is carried on to the modern Malayalam Theatre, many a time, as refined planes.




theatre- functions. is used not only for the mere

'~ilavilakku' or kalivilakk;

function of illuminating the stage. It has a ritualistic or holy

meaning on the stage.

The theatrical function of focusing


attention of the audience on the subtle variations of emotions on the faces of the characters, is also achieved by 'Kalivilakku'. The aesthetic effect it provides to the flesh-painting, the elaborate and splendi,d costume of the characters is very high. Its metaphysical effect is shared by the audience, as they have a holy conception of it. in Mudivettu Pazhoor points out that the holy lamp 'Siva' and not

symbolises the All mighty God

Ganapathi as in other ritual arts. (Note 26) (A1 4.8.9

The lighting in "~udiyettu'

- 2-10).

The natural lighting pattern in wonderful effect to its performance.


provides a

The darkness as well as 'Torches'

light can contribute to the conveyance of emotion.

and five-wicked torches are used to give light and shade of the performance Mudiyettu of is Cudiyettu the whole


performance or







During the fighting scene, Darika takes to follows- him through this space. after them with burning

his heel, Kali

The torch-bearers have to rush The intensity of the


fierceness of

the whole

sequence is heightened by


'Thellippodi' on the burning torches,

Narayana ~isharadi

in his translation of Natyasastra tells us that by throwing 'Thellippodi' on the burning torches sound should be produced. (N. 27) 4.8.10 Music in Mudiyettu

Music is given great importance in 'Mudivettu





'Aranguvazhthal', the 'ragas of


'savari', 'Sankarabharkamt will be sung, In the dialogue between Siva and Narada, and Kali and Darika, there would be particular

ragas' used. The first challenging call of Darika would be in 'Anandabhairavi', the second in 'Puraneevu' (because it is in the early morning) a 'rag; similar to ('Bhupala').

The musical

instruments used are 'Chenda', 'Elathalam', 'Kurumkuzhal' etc.inthe rituals. During

'Kompu', 'Sanku', 'Kalampooja' and

'Thiriuzhichil', the instruments 'Kompu', 'Kurumkuzhal', 'Sanku', Elathalam' , and 'Chenda' are used. During 'Kalampattu' only

' Chenda'

and 'Elathalam' are used. During erasement of 'Kalam'

'Sanku' and 'Veekanchenda' are used. In '~rangukeli' 'Chenda', 'Madhalam', 'Elathalam' are used. In 'aranguvazhthal' , Dialogue of Siva and '~aradha), 'Entrance of '~arika: 'Urukkuchenda',

'Veekkanchenda', and '~lathalam' are used.

During the challenge

scenes, killing of '~arika',the blessing of Kali 'Veekkanchenda' and 'Elathalam' are used.

' urukkuchenda ' ,

There are no separate

singers for '~udivettu'.The 'vaddyakkars''sing and some times even the actors sing. An analysis of the application of music in








intensifies the theatrical quality of the performance.

4.9.0 The changing - - phases . .... of 'Mudiyettu',today.

Pazhoor believes that


cannot remain only as a It can withstand the

spectacle as all ritual arts are (AI.2.12).

onslaught of time only with the ritualistic elements in it.(~.28).Even

if it is taken out of the temple premises, it can be presented only with a ritualistic atmosphere. The improvements in


cannot be done with the erosion of rituals in it.

Today there are three families conducting -MudiyetW'- (1) In Muvattupuzha (2) Pazhoor and ( 3 ) Koratti. But they cannot depend on

the ritual art-formfortheir livelihood, as it is only seasonal. Now it is taught in Shektra Kala Peedom, Vaikom under the

Travancore Devaswom Board- Pazhoor suggests that all the groups which are conducting Mudiyet.' should come together, to

re novate it and project. it to the outside world. (AI-2-11].

4.9.1Theatre lessons from 'Mudiyettut-~nalysis.

Pazhoor, admitting

that he is not familiar with modern

trends of Malayalam Drama opines that, the dramatic elements and spectacular aspects in u can provide immense knowlege

to the modern theatre-worker. Through an intimate acquaintance with the ritual art, he can develop a new Theatre-culture. Ritual arts, in general, provide us with an awareness connected with the life of man in its totality, his aspiration, fears, wishes and disappointments. The concept of time and space involved in the ritual arts can be a model for the theatre-worker of today. The motif of the costume is based on imaginative visiona Within the codified acting style (score), the performer enjoys immense

freedom. The modern director has to express the emotional as well as the inner meaning of the play. For this he can draw

inspiration from the scenic design, action, rhythm, costume etc. of the ritual arts. How the 'Lokhadharmi' and 'Natyadharmi' be mixed for the effective theatrical presentation is the powerful core of the ritual art$#