Gombeyatta

Definition

Theater

  • A genre of shadow puppet theater performed in the Indian stateof Karnataka. As many as 300 families are involved in producing theseshadow plays which are mainly based on stories in the Ramayanaand the Mahabharata. A Gombeyatta troupe usually consistsof the main puppeteer, his wife who plays the harmonium and sings,other male family members who help in manipulating the puppets, anda tabla (drum) player. The companies, who perform on religiousholidays, are generally associated with a particular Hindu temple.

    The chief puppeteer often has over 100 figures under his controland may use as many as 50 in one performance. Several puppets canbe used to represent the different moods of a single character. Thesocial rank of the puppets is usually indicated by their size, withthe largest being about 30 to 40 inches tall. Categories of puppetinclude gods, demons, humans, clowns, animals, and natural objectssuch as trees.

    The Bommalattam puppet theater of southern Indiais also sometimes called Gombeyatta.

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