Kathputli – The Puppet Dance Show Of Rajasthan

The puppets in Rajasthan are one of the popular sources of entertainment in the state. The art of puppetry is practiced by a community of agricultural laborers of Rajasthan. Known as the Bhats, these people have been associated with Rajasthani string puppetry to carry forward their traditional occupation. Though they belong, originally, to the Nagaur area in the Marwar region, they travel all through the countryside to exhibit their skills. Also known by the name of the “kathputliwalas”, they usually perform the puppet shows during the late evenings.

In the puppet shows of Rajasthan there are a number of wooden dummy dolls that are dressed up in bright and color attires. These puppets are attached with strings that the puppeteer uses to move them around. A miniature stage is set up with the help of a cot that is laid by length. The puppeteer tacks his puppets over a rope joined to the upper legs of the cots. The cots are covered with sheets in order to conceal the puppeteer from the view of the public. He moves the jointed limbs of the puppets with the help of strings attached to each of them.

Loud beats on the dholak (a kind of drum) announce the starting of the puppet show. Throughout the show, there is hooting and whistling by the puppeteers. Each of the puppet shows of Rajasthan has a theme different from the other. One of the most popular themes is that of the dialogues of Amar Singh Rathore of Nagaur. The plays are usually narrated by the female members of the troupe. The narration is accompanied with appropriate songs and beats on the drums that are in perfect harmony with the movements of the puppets. The shows, usually lasting one hour, are enjoyed by people belonging to all the age groups.

History of Rajasthani Puppets :-

The subject of puppet is not new to the world, but it is rather thousands years old. Regionally called Kathputli, where kaath implies wood and putli imply a doll accordingly giving it the name of a wooden puppet. It is the most vibrant part of Rajasthani folk culture and legacy. According to a legend, Raja Vikramaditya of Ujjain was frightfully fond of puppets. His throne was chiselled with thirty two beautiful dolls. The first play was of thirty two puppets which portrayed the life and accomplishments of Vikramaditya. The successors of the man, who initially demonstrated the play, performed a few shows for the later royal families in this manner picking up much acknowledgment and laud.

A long time after Prithviraj Chauhan was so amazed by this workmanship that he asked the Bhats to show a play on his accomplishments. The Bhats made a play on the brave deeds of Amar Singh Rathod of Nagaur additionally. The Mughal period brought a downfall for this art form as it was somehow against the Islamic beliefs. The puppet artists in the Mughal period faced loss of recognition as they were not entertained by the Mughal royal families.

Puppet Shows :-

Puppetry is a very old and popular form of folk entertainment. India has a mixed and rich heritage in puppetry. Puppetry is considered as the most significant of all dramatic forms. In India, puppet troupes are found in states like Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka. The paper puppets and string puppets are famous in Rajasthan. Andhra Pradesh is well-known for Shadow puppets.Working the edge between entertainment and education, puppets can both teach and persuade Puppets have been a flexible means of communication artistic expression, and instruction for 2,000 years. Their innovative potential is just waiting to be used to help communities grow and change.

There are different types of puppetry shows in India. Some are glove puppets, some are rod puppets, some puppetry shows use string and rod puppets and last but not the least is the shadow puppets. Puppetry is more famous as a rural folk art than it is in urban areas however nowadays puppetry is getting its due appreciation in the cities too. Puppetry shows generally show different episodes from the well-known Indian epics of The Ramayana and The Mahabharata. Since puppets are characters and not people puppet shows can be used to extend social message on responsive issues like family planning, and female literacy.

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