- A type of puppet theater only performed in south India, inTamil Nadu and in northern Karnataka. Its origin is unknown, but performancesare normally held at temple festivals or other religious celebrations.The stories, mainly from the Puranas, are told in dialogue,song, and dance, with time kept by a cymbal player and drummer andmusic from a harmonium player. The ottu, a wind instrument,is also used in the Mysore plays.
The puppets (which are sometimes used as magic dolls to wardoff evil and bring rain) stand from one- to three-feet tall and resemblethe more popular Kathputli dolls of north India. They aremanipulated by strings to the head, back, arms, and legs, with rodssometimes used for arms and legs. The manipulators, who wear bellson their ankles, stand behind and above the dolls; the acting areais created by black cloth stretched to form a proscenium arch.
The genre is sometimes known as Gombeyatta, whichis also the name of the shadow puppet theater of Karnataka.