Kathputli – The Heritage Puppetry Craft of Rajasthan

Kathputli – The Heritage Puppetry Craft of Rajasthan
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Kathputli is a puppetry craft, which is attached to string to show folk tales in form of puppetry, native to Rajasthan, India. Kathputli is the most popular form of Indian puppetry. Being a string marionette, it is controlled by a single string that passes it from the top of the puppet over the puppeteers. Kathputli is derived from two Rajasthani language words like Kath which means wood and Putli means a doll. Kathputli means a puppet which is made up of wood, only face is made of wood and other parts are made up of cotton cloth and metal wire. Today Kathputli art is one of the most popular performing arts of Rajasthan after Ghoomar.

Puppetry Craft

History of Puppetry Craft

Kathputli art tradition is more than thousands years old, beliefs of Some scholars. One finds its backings in Rajasthani folk tales, ballads and sometimes even in folk songs. Similar puppets which are rod-puppets, are also found in west Bengal. But it is truly rajasthan’s amazing kathputli which made India one of the first countries to invent its traditional puppetry. Rajasthani culture diversity and tradition eternal parties became an great art for other. Tribes of Rajasthan have been performing this art from the ancient times. No village fair, no religious festival and no social gathering in Rajasthan can be complete without the Kathputlis. It is believed that somewhere 1500 years ago, tribal Rajasthani Bhat community started the use of Kathputli as string marionette art and it is in their love for tradition that art of Kathputli survived the test of time. Tradition of Kathputli is based on folk tales and stories. Scholars believe that folk tales convey the lifestyle of ancient Rajasthani tribal people and Kathputli art might have originated from present day Nagaur and surrounding areas. Rajasthani Kings and nobles were kin of Art and Craft and they encouraged the craftsmen in these activities. Over the last 500 years, Kathputli was a system of patronage supported by kings and well-off families. The kathputli lovers would look after the artists in return for the artists singing praises of the patrons’ ancestors. Bhat community claim that their ancestors had performed for royal families, and received great honour and prestige from the rulers of Rajasthan. 

Today, the liveliness of the kathputli does not seem to be disappearing. Many groups of puppeteers crisscross Rajasthan as well as other northern Indian states prepare occasion to give thanks to the gods by celebrating feasts to which they invited troubadours and puppeteers. Often accompanied by Bhopa-Bhopi storytellers from the Bhil group who base their own stories, music, and dances on gigantic comic strip-like painted scrolls (phad or path), the kathputliwallahs‘ most intense period of activity is during the dry season. Since 1980, several kathputli troupes travel the world over, invited by institutions and festivals. Today, there are troupes and traditional families performing kathputli ka khel, some of whom are master puppeteers recognized locally and sometimes nationally for their contribution to the art of puppetry.

To learn how to make Kathputli look our Post: How to Make Puppets – Kathputali & Tutorial.

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