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ic]kqI Chitrakathi

Contents 4 Chitrakathi’s Cradle 10 Community of Kudal 21 Chitrakathi Authentic style Modern adaptation

25 Chitrakaars 29 The Museum

Procession of a King with the small Prince and the Queen

The Art of story telling

Chitrakathi is a craft of storytelling. It is done with the help of paintings made by yours truly, the Sutradhar (the narrator), the Thakars. With the help of musical instruments like veena, taal, huduk and tabla, the stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata would unfold throughout the nights of recitals. Villagers would loyally attend the sessions as it was their form of entertainment and devotion.



Chitrakathi’s Cradle 4

Our Konkan Maharashtra is well known for its beautiful coastline and nature. This long patch extends from Thane district to the Mangalore port in Karnataka, with various beaches and wonders.


Kudal is one such town in Sindhudurg district. It has similar climatic conditions to other konkan areas, warm and humid. It also has heavy rainfall during monsoon. You must visit post rainfall and during winters to enjoy the sheer beauty go the region.

Pinguli, our home, the home of Chitrakathi, is a few kilometres ahead of Kudal. We Thakars perform 10 other Lok Kalas. We also have our own small Museum which showcases elements of these eleven kalas.



Community of Kudal 10

The people here are deeply rooted to our culture, and most of them are Konkani Maharashtrian. We still see them wearing our typical clothing-lugdas and cholis, dhoti-kurta with topi (cap). We talk in languages close to Marathi like Konkani, Malvani and Kannada.

Most of our dishes are based on coconut as it grows in abundance on our lands. Our sea food specialities like fishes and prawns taste the best when cooked in our traditional masalas. During summers, Alphonso (mango) are exported all over the world because of its quality and juiciness. We have a special appetiser called Solkadi which gives a blended taste of coconut and kokam.



Chitrakathi Authentic Style 13

In the olden days, the process would start from making the natural dyes, the handmade sheets and brushes. The brushes used to make outline were made using thin bamboo grass (chichuka). We used natural colours made from haldi, leaves, coal and bind them with gum from the barks of the trees. We would apply colour blobs with an image in our mind. And then outline those to define as characters.


Our motifs were inspired from the environment around us. We had some set rules to portray the story scenes like an indoor scene would have a border on the top and bottom while an outdoor scene would only have a border at the bottom. We depicted ears as earrings only, had decorated ornaments to show the hierarchy of social class and kings. Also their clothing helped in understanding their class.


All the paintings are in two dimensions, with no perspective or proportions. It is a flat painting style with no use of ‘chiaroscuro’ (light and shadow). Faces are always shown from side profile except for Lord Ganpati’s. Both the palms are shown facing outward with all the fingers visible to the viewer. Feet are turned towards the side of the face to show body orientation while the body is front facing.


Chitrakathi Modern adaptation 21


The new paintings we do now are neater than the old ones, with better defined forms and long lasting colours. We first outline or draw the scene with faint colours and then fill those with one colour after another. And outline with black at the end. The motifs are similar to the ones used before by our forefathers, developed from the old paintings and not taken from the current trending ones. We use raw materials available in the market to cut down on production cost to make it affordable.


Chitrakaars 25

Mr Gangawane- He is the senior most active craftsman of Chitrakathi, who has dedicated his life to continue the tradition and keep the craft alive. He built a house, a museum to provide safer environment to the old paintings that his ancestors passed on. He has two sons who also help him in his vision.

Mr Mhasage- He is a farmer by profession and not actively involved in the craft. He does make the paintings and performs when requested to. He has started a small school in his house premises.



The Museum 29

Mr Parshuram Gangawane started a small museum in his cowshed with funds available to him. It is divided in two sections, showcasing various interesting elements like paintings and instruments from their community. The first section has some of the old Chitrakathi paintings with scenes from the Ramayan, the Mahabharata and the Nandi Puran.

There are mini set ups of Kalsutri Bhavlya and shadow puppets, with some old puppets kept there. One wall has the entire collection of decorative objects made for Pangul Bael. Apart from these, there several instruments like Dona vadya, tun tuna, samal, veena, taal. These instruments are used for various performances. The highlight is the Dona Vadya, which is actually a utensil used to drain out and store rice water. They use this to sing Dona Geet, to celebrate and pray for good rice harvest.

Coffee table book  
Coffee table book  

Coffee table book on Chitrakathi, the art of storytelling from Kudal India.