UNESCO recognized Koodiyattom as human heritage art, is an important artform which is performed in the language of Sanskrit. 2000 year old theatre art form of Kerala and it still going strong- That is Koodiyattom for you.
Koodiyattom means “dancing together” and it is presented in traditional styles. It is based on the mythological stories in Ramayana like the Sri Rama and Sita Devi, etc.
Kulashekara Varma Cheraman Perumal, a king of ancient Kerala was known as the mind behind this art form. He has illustrated the art form in his popular book ‘Aattaprakaaram‘. This makes Koodiyattam the oldest surviving form of Sanskrit theatre
Koodiyattom means “dancing together”. Instead of single Chakiyar, this dance is performed by a number of performers, including both men and women. The performance was confined to the temple Koothambalam of Kerala, a specially constructed theatre.
The stage is decorated with fruit-bearing plantains and bunches of tender coconuts. A vessel overflowing with paddy is placed on the stage. Lighting is done with a tall oil lamp made of brass.
There are two or more characters onstage at the same time, with the Chakkiars providing the male cast and the Nangiars playing the female roles. The Nangiars beat the cymbals and recite verses in Sanskrit, while in the background Nambiars play the Mizhavu. The instruments used include Mizhavu, Kuzhitalam, Etakka, Kurumkuzhal and Sankhu
The performance lasts for several days ranging from 6 to 20 days. Acting is based on a highly evolved mime language. Stylized facial and eye expressions, a language of mudras, a unique style of chanting together with elaborate headgears and the symbolic use of colour through the makeup together constitute the dance-drama.
The Koodal Manickyam temple at Irinjalakkuda and the Vadakkumnatha temple at Thrissur are the main centres where Kootiyattam is still performed annually. Ammannoor Madhava Chakkiar is an unrivalled maestro of this rare art.
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