“Puppetry” has been a captivating and enchanting form of storytelling for centuries, and one such mesmerizing art form is "Kathputli." Originating from the Indian subcontinent, Kathputli art has been passed down through generations, carrying with it the rich cultural heritage of Rajasthan. In the face of modernization and changing entertainment preferences, Kathputli art has encountered challenges in sustaining its legacy. However, one such preservation is being kept alive at Lok Kala Mandal, Udaipur, where everyday the Puppetry shows are performed. Bhagwati Mali and Mohan Lal Dangi are the two artists who make Kathputli art.
These two artists came to Lok Kala Mandal 30 years ago and from that time they have been mastering the art of making Kathputli. They said that one Kathputli making requires 4-5 days. Kathputli, which translates to "wooden puppet," traces its roots back to Rajasthan, India. This traditional art form has its origins in ancient folklore and has been an integral part of Rajasthani culture for ages. Initially performed by nomadic tribes, Kathputli gradually gained recognition and popularity, eventually finding its place on the global stage.
“Mohan Lal Dangi said that the adaptation of the puppet play based on Vivekananda, prepared by his team has been presented 400-500 times in India and 20-30 times abroad. Not only this, he has also performed this play in Parliament House and in front of Kirron Kher.”
Craftsmanship and Techniques:
Kathputli puppets are meticulously crafted by skilled artisans who have mastered the art of wood carving, sculpting, and painting. These puppets are made from wood, cloth, and other materials, with intricate detailing given to their costumes, facial expressions, and movable limbs.
Bhagwati Mali said that puppets are not just a means of entertainment but also give a social message. It takes a year to convert these puppets into a drama (play) and this art of Rajasthan is popular not only in India but also abroad.
Kathputli art narrates a wide range of stories, including mythological tales, historical events, folk stories, and social messages. The performances are often accompanied by live music, with musicians playing traditional instruments like the tabla, harmonium, and dholak. The colorful puppets, vibrant costumes, and lively music transport the audience into a world brimming with imagination and emotions.
Kathputli serves as a powerful medium for preserving cultural heritage and promoting social awareness. It showcases the traditions, customs, and values of the region. Additionally, Kathputli art has provided livelihoods to numerous artists and performers, contributing to the socio-economic development of their communities.
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