Tholpavakkoothu shadow leather puppet in Kerala


  • Recently, a shadow leather puppet in Kerala’s famous temple art Tholpavakkoothu has been animated by a robot.

Key Details

  1. People from Harishree Kannan Tholpavakkoothu Kala Kendra, Koonathara, are set to animate their leather puppets using robotics with help from Inker Robotics.
  2. The first robotic leather puppet was installed at the Palakkad District Heritage Museum,which was inaugurated by Minister for Museums Kadannappally Ramachandran recently.

    Source: The Hindu
  3. Although there is a wide variety of art and cultural symbols showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Palakkad at the museum, the shadow leather puppets installed have been a big draw with visitors with their robotic movements.
  4. The most difficult part of Tholpavakkoothu is the limb movements of the puppets. These are now being controlled through robotics.

About Tholpavakkoothu

  1. A traditional temple art in Kerala having its roots in Palakkad and neighbouring regions.
  2. Used to be performed in the Bhadrakali temples of Palakkad, telling tales from the Ramayana. It is also known as Nizhalkkoothu and Olakkoothu.
  3. Tholpavakoothu or shadow puppetry is a temple art form which is prevalent in the Bhagavathy temples (mother Goddess) in Palakkad district and nearby regions in Kerala.
  4. Tholppava (Thol means leather, Pava means puppet) are moved with the help of strings, and their shadows are depicted on a screen with the help of a row of oil lamps in the background.
  5. The story of Tholppavakoothu performance is from the Indian epic, Ramayana.
  6. In the olden days it was performed elaborately over a period of forty-one days. The narrative used for the performance is a mixture of prose and poetry called Adalpattu.
  7. Tholppavas are made of the skin of deer and the puppet forms are made by making small holes in the leather that is then attached vertically to a bamboo stick.
  8. Accompanying instruments include Ezhupara, Chenda and Maddalam. The artists have to undergo several years of rigorous training to master this art form. The puppetry is staged on a special structure in temple premises called Koothumadam.

Source: The Hindu

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