Kathakali is a highly stylized classical Indian dance-drama noted for the attractive make-up of characters, elaborate costumes, detailed gestures and well-defined body movements presented in tune with the anchor playback music and complementary percussion.
It originated in the country’s present day state of Kerala during the 17th century and has developed over the years with improved looks, refined gestures and added themes besides more ornate singing and precise drumming.
All along, the martial art of Kalarippayattu has influenced the body language of Kathakali.
Kathakali originated from a precursor dance-drama form called Ramanattam and owes it share of techniques also to Krishnanattam. The word “attam” means enactment. In short, these two forerunning forms to Kathakali dealt with presentation of the stories of Hindu gods Rama and Krishna.
Kathakali also shares a lot of similarities with Krishnanattam, Koodiyattam (a classical Sanskrit drama existing in Kerala) and Ashtapadiyattam (an adaptation of 12th-century musical called Gitagovindam). It also incorporates several other elements from traditional and ritualistic art forms like Mudiyettu, Thiyyattu, Theyyam and Padayani besides a minor share of folk arts like Porattunatakam.
Costume of Kathakali: In this dance costume designing and make up are of great importance. Characters wear tight jacket and colorful ghaghara (long skirt) which remains blown. They also wear a crown according to the role whose halo may stretch up to their feet. The color of the face is according to the role. The faces of gods are green, that of demons, red or black. Women and other minor actors have natural coloued face. The decoration and make up is according to Abhinaya.