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Traditional Knowledge

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Kathakali Face Painting

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Kathakali Face Painting

Kathakali Face Painting

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Traditional Knowledge

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Kathakali Face Painting

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Traditional Knowledge

In the South - west corner of India lays the state of Kerala; a beautiful part of the country with its palm-tree beaches, bright paddy fields, endless coconut farms, back waters, wide rivers and hills; from this state comes that unique art form called Kathakali. The make-up of Kathakali character is peculiarly native to the Kerala folk art. Elaborate make up heightens dramatic effects. Colour symbolism reflects certain categories of emotions and gunas.

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Kathakali Face Painting

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HISTORY AND ITS DEVELOPMENT

K

athakali literally means story-dance; it is that dance drama of Malabar which is now culturally and politically known as Kerala’s soul. Kathakali traced its origin to the ritualistic (tantric) period of the Vedic Age and connected its growth from the popular, folk dance dramas. Kathakali as an art form was evolved in the 8th century from a dance drama called Ramanattam. It was a superb combination of dance, drama, music and rituals. The characters with vividly painted faces (colours like green, red, black, yellow) perform on stage. The green colour represents godliness, white represents spirituality, red represents violence, black represents evil and yellow represents the combined character of Godliness and Violence. Kathakali characters are all mythological characters so the question of their makeup cannot be settled on a realistic basis, they all have set modes of makeup and attire and reduced to five main types, according to the character or their qualities. The five main types are: Paccha Kathi Taadi Kari Minukku

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paccha

Paccha or predominantly deep green face role- types are Gods, celebrated mythological heroes, and virtuous personages, symbolizing inner refinement poise, heroism and moral excellence. This include heroes of a play and noble characters, Indra, Krishna, Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata, Satrugnan, Harischandra and Nala. The front part of their faces is given a smooth deep green base on which chuttis (white rice-paste curves) run from the centre of the chin, covering the lower jaw, to either side of the face. The eyes and the eye-lashes are painted black and the lips bright red. It assumes the shape of a broad-blade saber or of a sweeping curve of a bow. The forehead, above the bow-tie shaped painted portion, is covered by a red ribbon of the gilded head gear.

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minukku

Minukku is the polished variety of facial make-up, consisting in smoothening the actor’s face with a coating of a mixture of yellow and red pigments. The composition obtains ‘a self ’ (or natural skin) complexion colour. It reflects the characters usually found in Brahmins, Rishis and Virtuous women. The eyes and eye-lashes are painted and contours elongated with the black unguent and greasy collyrium. Sometimes the face is decorated with white or cream colour dots, running from the cheeks to the fore-head in a bow-shape. The lips are reddened and the forehead is decorated with a caste mark. This colour scheme serves to give a symbolic glow of piety to a devotee character. Women role-types are given delicate touches of the make-up.

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katti

As compared to paccha, the make-up of Katti role-types is complicated. This term literally means ’knife’, because in its make-up the shapes of colour positions resemble sharply bent daggers. Evil, demoniac and fierce characters standing against the hero of a play. Pratinayakaas such as Asuras (the enemies of the God’s) ambitious and arrogant Raavana, Keechaka, Kamsa and Dussaasana are distinctively treated with this make-up. Their faces are given a foundation with green colour; the sides of their noses are painted in red. The red paint round the nose rises up to the forehead above the eye-brows. It is like a patch, an upturned moustache, covering the upper jaw. Its border lines are treated in white. On the green base of the rest of the face, a chutti runs along the jaw-bones from the middle of the cheek. Two white knobs, called chuttippuvus, are placed on the face. These vary in size with the degree of the fearsome appearance of some demoniac characters like Raavana and Dussaasana; two long protruding canine teeth (called dhamshtras) are perched on either side of the mouth. These drop over the lower lips. Katti make-up characters stand in a singular position.

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taadi

Veluppu taadi

Those who have the taadi make-up are again, good godly and evil-demoniac. To differentiate one from the other, two taadi make-ups are in vogue: Veluppu taadi (white beard) and Chuvanna taadi (red beard). In these make-ups white chutti is not planted on the face. It consists of a white beard and a fur coat. It is a realistic make-up for characters like Hanuman, the son of God Vaayu, and other monkey sages and warriors. The upper half of the face, the inner part of the eyes and lips are treated with a black ointment. The chin at the middle is decorated with a white rosette, bearing a red dot within. Red paint is applied to the lower part of the lower lip, up to the chin. A thin coating of chutti decoratively encloses the black-end part of the face and meets the chuttinata - the hem of the head dress. Another white pattern develops on either side of the cheeks and circling the red spots, starting from the base of the green painted nose. On the tip of the nose and on the forehead there are two oval-shaped spots in red.

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Kathakali Face Painting

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Chuvanna taadi This make-up is given to hideous characters. The face is painted red, with black contour lines drawn around the eyes, lips and chin. This adds to the ferocity of less evil characters like Baali, Sugriiva, Kaalakeya and Dussaasana. The eye-brows and lashes are not elongated, no chutti is applied to the Chuvanna taadi. The face is dubbed in red and treated with black lines. Around the eyes, almost a square patch of deep black colour is provided to give to the eyes a fiendish look of a evil designer. Lips painted in black, are given a hilly curve to give the role type a lucid image of a beastly character. Running from the upper lip are two white paste bristled rows throwing the black patch round the eyes in bold relief and adding ferocity to the fiery red eyes, and demarcating the black portion from the remaining nether part of the face is red. Chuttippuvus (white blobs) on the tip of the nose and the fore-head are bigger in size than those put on by kathi characters. It is the most impressive of all make-ups in Kathakali.

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kari

This make-up reveals the vile and evil characters, such as Suurpanakha and Simhika. Their faces are painted in black and the cheeks have a red crescent in the middle. A pair of damshtraas are provided. Shiva in the role of Kiraata (hunter) is also given this type of the make-up.

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RAW MATERIALS

manayolla

It is a rock powder found underground. It is mainly found in south Indian states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.This is the base for all kathakali make-up. It is a yellow piece of rock which is available in the market. After buying this they smash it into powder form. The cost of this is around Rs100/- to Rs 150/-per kg.and during off –season it goes to Rs 175/- to Rs 200/-per kg(monsoon is the off season).The picture(in the left)shows how the Manayolla is crushed for making it into powder form.

neelam

This is a dark blue colour rock piece found in washing powders and liquids. But this is a milder chemical so that it doesn’t harm the skin. Though it is mild it is not directly applied on the skin. Neelam is mixed with manayolla and little coconut oil to get green colour. And green is the main colour of kathakali. This picture shows how manayolla turns green in colour when neelam is mixed.

chayilyam

It literally means a mixture of red with something. Here it means a mixture of yellow and red. And yellow is manayolla and red is red oxide. It is another main colour of kathakali, and is mainly used by ‘kathi’, chuvanna taadi. The red oxide and manayolla is mixed with water to get chayilyam. The same red oxide with water is used as lipstick for the characters. The picture shows an artist applying chayilyam on his face.

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mashi

Mashi means black. It is another colour used by all the characters in the play. It is ash which is taken from the tiles after lighting a lamp under the tiles and put it in oil to preserve it. When they use it they add a little water. It is mainly used around the eyes and as a boundary for other colours.

vella

Vella means white. The chemical here is zinc white. This is also not directly applied on the face. This is mixed with manayolla to get a cream colour. This is used by the minukku character. These two are mixed with water to get the cream colour. This cream colour is the base for minukku characters.

chundu puuv

A remarkable feature of the kathakali make-up is the reddening of the white of the eyes of all characters by putting in a few young seeds of chundu puuv (sollanum pubescence) crimson eyes stand in contrast to the colour scheme of the face. The practice is usually followed in paccha and minukku faces.

chutti

Chutti is one of the important parts of face painting. Chutti a white sculpture of lime, rice paste and paper surrounds the make up highlighting the finer emotions on the actor’s face. Not only on the chin but all the white we see on the face of an artist is chutti. The chutti differs from character to character. Some have it running over their chin others near the eyes and so on.

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EQUIPMENTS

channa

narukku

vadi

Channa actually consists of two components. One is a small stone which is used for smashing and the other one is the base. It is used to smash or mix the materials which are used to make the paint. As these colours are thick in nature, brushes cannot be used for face-painting. So they use narukku which is the central stick of the coconut leaf. It is very thin and strong. They use a part of the coconut leaf as their palette. Vadi means stick. The kathakali artists use Vadi to mix lime and rice paste with water. This is done by experts because excess lime may cause damage to the skin. This is conical in shape with a rounded edge. This is used to draw on the face and to put chutti on the face.

paper and EPS (thermocol)

These two things are new to kathakali face painting. Earlier they used rice paste and lime to make chutti on the face. Due to waste of lime and breakage of chutti, they started using paper and thermocol. Paper is used on the face, on the chin ,near the eyes, and thermocol is used on the nose, forehead and the cheek.

gum and spirit

The cotton is used to give a base to the face where the chutti is stuck. The cotton gives a roughness to skin so that it stays on the skin. A layer of thin cotton is applied with the help of this gum and spirit.

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PROCESS

1) Crushing manayolla.This is the basic material required in face – painting. 2) Making chutti using lime and rice paste. They are mixed with the help of water. 3) The artist applying chayilyam on his face with narukku. 4) The artist applying mashi, to give a red border. This is also done with narukku. 5) The artist applying mashi, with narukku. The artist is applying mashi around his eye. This is also done with narukku. 6) The artist applying mashi. 7) Now the artist is lying down, so the person who is in charge of putting can start the work. Now he is putting a layer of cotton on his face. 8) Now the person who puts chutti puts a border of the lime and rice paste mixture to be stuck. 9) The person who is putting chutti puts another layer on top of the existing layer.

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1) The person uses a wet clothe to press the mixture to let it dry faster. 2) The person who is putting chutti puts another layer on top of the existing layer. 3) Now the person puts the paper on the face of the artist. This is cut manually in a curve shape according to the requirement. 4) The person follows the same steps and sticks the paper in the other side of the face. This picture shows how the face looks after putting the chutti. 5) The chutti is done. Now the artist starts painting his face with green and lips with red. 6) The artist is applying green colour on his face using narukku after applying red on his lips. 7) The artist is fixing the thermocol properly using the rice paste and lime mixture. This picture shows how the face looks after all the make-up is done. 8) This picture shows how the face looks after putting the band over his forehead and also the head gear.

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PRESENT MARKET

The market of this craft is very less. It is not at all big like other art forms of Kerala. The market for this is the foreign countries where Malayalees live. They like it because they are far away from their motherland and they want to be closer to it through this art form. And the target group in Kerala is the older generation. The picture to the left shows the audience for a kathakali performance in a temple near the Trichur town.

COST PRICE AND PROBLEMS FACED

The cost price of the kathakali face painting is very less .they don’t have to use too much of each thing in the face painting all the materials like manayolla,neelam,chayilyam and others are used very less for face painting. The main problem faced by the artists is money. Only the number one in the play gets enough money. The audience is also another problem; very less is interested in it. The course in kathakali is for 6 yrs which starts from 8th standard. These make it difficult for them to find jobs elsewhere. The picture shows an artist behind the stage.

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USER AND USAGE

Kerala Kalamadalam

The users of these are the artist themselves and the institute that teaches the art. The main institutes in Kerala are: . Kerala Kalamandalam is the premiere public institutions in India imparting training and conducting performances of the classical arts of Kerala viz: Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Thullal and Panchavaadyam; founded in 1930 by renowned poet Padmabhooshan Vallathol Narayana Menon along the banks of the river Nila in the Cheruthuruthy village of Thrissur district, kalamandalam is an immortal name in the cultural map of the world .training in art-disciplines at kalamandalam essentially adheres to the ancient Gurukula Sambradaaya.

Unnayi Warrier Smaraka Kalanilayam

The craving of Irijalakuda for a kathakali institute to impart training for creating kathakali artists from the land of lord Sangamesha and also authority at this time thought of paying a befitting tribute for Unnayi Warrier, the famous romantic poet of Malayalam literature resulted in the evolution of Unnayi Warrier Smaraka Kalanilayam. This institute is located in a small town around 30km away from Trichur .This institute gives training to students in different areas in kathakali.

Kathakali Sadanam

The Gandhi Seva Sadan kathakali and classic art academy popularly known as “kathakali Sadanam�is located in a panoramic, sprawling 10 acre campus of its own in Perur village in Ottapalam under the Palakkad district. This academy is dedicated to the training of the art of kathakali. It is the third of its kind in the state, the other two being the Kalamandalam and P.S.V Natyasangham. The main artists are from Kerala Kalamandalam: Kalamandalam Gopi Born in 1937 in the village of Kothachira Kerala, Kalman35


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Kalamandalam Gopi

dalam Gopi (Vadakka Manalath Govindan) was initiated in kathakali by Guru T Ravunni Nair. He later trained at Kerala Kalamandalam with Gurus Ramankutty Nair, Padmanabhan Nair, Kumaran Nair and others. Over a thirty year career Kalamandalam Gopi has established himself as an outstanding kathakali actor. He has played all major kathakali roles excelling as Bhima, Arjuna and Nala.

Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair

Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair Hailing from north Malabar he learnt the rudimentary lessons of kathakali under Guru Chandu Panicker at the Varanakkottu Mana near Kannur. Vallathol brought him to kalamandalam in 1930 where he received rigorous training in kathakali under the titan Pattikkaamthoti Ravunni Menon. He combined stylized and realistic acting in the stage presentation of the major kathakali characters .Endowed with an expressive face, elegant appearance and a romantic-cumhumorous approach to characters Krishnan Nair easily became the mega-star in kathakali.

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CONCLUSION

The striking make-up and the costumes are designed to transform the actors both mentally and physically into the characters they are portraying. The audience is old generation, no new generation is present .If this negligence increases then the kathakali, which includes the face painting, will only be viewed by the foreigners.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Kerala Kalamandalam The institute where kathakali is practiced Unnayi Warrier Smaraka Kalanilayam The institute where kathakali is practiced. Kalamandalam Gopi A kathakali artist whom I interviewed. Kalamandalam Manoj (kathi) The artist who gave me the permission to take his picture during his makeup sessions. Kalamandalam Ravikumar The person who was putting chutti on the artist’s face. Kalamandalam Pradeep (chuvanna taadi) Kalamandalam Haripriya (minukku) Kalamandalam Soman (paccha) Brito Jose, Thasleem A M, Gautham C Menon, Vaishak Varma My friends who gave me support during the visits.

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Documented By:

RAJMOHAN CHOZHIATH 44


Traditional Knowledge

Guide:

PADMINI BALARAM 45


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Craft Documentation  

a documentation about the face painting done for Kathakali

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