- Recently, a shadow leather puppet in Kerala’s famous temple art Tholpavakkoothu has been animated by a robot.
- People from Harishree Kannan Tholpavakkoothu Kala Kendra, Koonathara, are set to animate their leather puppets using robotics with help from Inker Robotics.
- The first robotic leather puppet was installed at the Palakkad District Heritage Museum,which was inaugurated by Minister for Museums Kadannappally Ramachandran recently.
- 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.
- The most difficult part of Tholpavakkoothu is the limb movements of the puppets. These are now being controlled through robotics.
- A traditional temple art in Kerala having its roots in Palakkad and neighbouring regions.
- Used to be performed in the Bhadrakali temples of Palakkad, telling tales from the Ramayana. It is also known as Nizhalkkoothu and Olakkoothu.
- 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.
- 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.
- The story of Tholppavakoothu performance is from the Indian epic, Ramayana.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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