Kathputli – Marrionettes of Rajasthan


Actually puppets making or kathputli making is an art that arrives from Egyptian history. In India it must be originated earlier than 5th century B.C. In Srimad Bhagvata, the God Almighty has been likened to a puppeteer with three strings-Sattva, Rajas and Tamas-manipulates all the beings in the created universe. In the 2nd century the Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar mentioned about `marionettes moved by strings` in his compositions.

Types of Puppets

There are four main types of puppets glove, rod, shadow and string. They are differentiated on the basis of their ways of manipulation of puppets.

Marionettes of Rajasthan.

Glove Puppets

In Glove puppets, hands are moved by middle finger and thumb and head of the puppet is moved by index finger. In this one person can perform with two puppets at a time.

Rod Puppets

When the head of the puppet is supported by the main rod and their hands and neck is joined with different small rod at the shoulders and then attached with the main rod, then it is said as rod puppet. In this type of puppet legs are not made and so it is covered with sari or dhoti. And its main rod is also covered under cloth and the puppet is tied to the thread to perform drama. West Bengal has a rich tradition of rod puppetry called putul nach

Shadow Puppets

Shadow puppets are operated on white cloth which is stretched tightly. This puppets are placed against the string with extra light behind it so that shadow of the performing puppet is versioned clearly. The puppets shaped and cut outs are perforated and split bamboo or cane sticks are attached vertically to the puppet for handling and manipulation. This is practiced in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Orissa.

String Puppets

Marionettes or string puppets are distinguished from regular puppets as they are controlled by the string. Marionettes are generally large expensive puppets as they are made out of wood, cloth and other material. Puppets are operated with the puppeteer hidden or revealed to an audience by using a vertical or horizontal control bar.
String puppets are also seen in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Orissa.

Rajasthan and puppets

mg Src: Rajasthanstudio

Rajasthan is famous for its culture, traditions, handicrafts, folks, palaces and heritages and so it attracts tourists in majority. Rajasthan is a colorful state as it has varieties of talents in it. Even they love colors and they fill colors in their life and also in their place. You might be knowing that Jaipur is known as pink city Golden city, Udaipur a White city. People here are friendly in nature and some-what strict to their customs. They love their culture and they are nature loving too, which can be seen in their handlooms creations. They are fond of mouth watering spicy bard. Proper respect for their culture and traditions and their Lords and saints is seen here.

Rajasthan is the richest state in handicrafts. Each little village has its own specialty in handicraft. Stone sculpting, wooden crafting, textile, pottery, jewelry making, carpeting and weaving, dyeing fabric, paintings etc., are famous handicrafts of Rajasthan. Even Rajasthani’s are famous in puppet making, marble cutting, Astrology etc.

The traditional marionettes of Rajasthan are known as Kathputli. Here puppets are made of single piece of wood. The puppeteers here form dolls of wood and dress it colorfully with dhotis or wrap sari and attach artificial hair, dress it with ornaments. Their faces are painted yellow, white or any light color. The body up to the waist and hands are made of stuffed rags, cotton or cloth bits. Their hands have no joints but that are tied with the string for the movement. Strings are also tied on the head for manipulation.
The strings are then tied to the puppeteer’s fingers and they can manipulate them with their movement of fingers.

Popular legendary stories like Amarsingh Rathore, MahaRana Pratap or Rani Padmini are enacted with folk music of Rajasthan.
String puppets are also seen in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Orissa.

The puppets are generally crafted in areas like Sawai-Madhopur, Bari and Udaipur. Bhats can make their own puppets also
The performance drama of puppet is handled with a group off people working together. Here puppeteers use different voice, whistling, squeaking voice, rhymes or folk songs or filmy songs to attract people. Also, they play Dholak or take ghungroos in their hand and play according to the rhythm, to have the concentration of people on them.
Anarkali, Snake charmer, Horse rider, Nimbuwala and juggler are the popular characters of the puppets show.

In this ancient performative art of Rajasthani puppetry is a source of pure joy, entertainment, cultural enrichment and artistic satisfaction.

Puppets in movies

Puppet and its dance or we can say kathputli dance are also used in bollywood movies. Some of the common names are Song “Bol Ri Kathputli Dori Kaun Sang Baandhi” from an old movie named “Kathputli” was picturised on Vyjayanthimala.

Song from film Kasauti “Hum Bolega To Bologe ke Bolta Hai” picturised on Actor Pran and also seen Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini. In the song Pran uses “Finger Puppets” throughout the song.
In the film Mahaan starring Amitabh Bachchan in Triple roles uses the talking doll- puppet. Puppet “Rangeela” used in the Hindi film “Dil Hai Tumhaara” starring Jimmy Shergill and Preity Zinta directed by Kundan Shah.