(Last Updated on : 23-05-2011)
String puppets are an essential part of theatre crafts. Karnataka is a place where string puppets are used in abundance to enact the local and popular folk dramas. Puppetry in Karnataka is believed to have existed at the time of 'Kanakadasa' and 'Purandaradasa' and its roots are traced to the coastal tract of Karnataka. The string puppets of Karnataka are called 'Gombeyatta'. The specially created string puppets of Karnataka are styled and designed like the characters of 'Yakshagana' which is the traditional and regional theatre form. The dolls of 'Yakshagana' or the puppets are shaped out of light wood. The Gombeyatta puppet figures are highly stylized and have joints at the legs, shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. These puppets are manipulated by five to seven strings tied to a prop up. Some of the more complicated movements of the puppet are manipulated by two to three puppeteers at a time. Episodes enacted in Gombeyatta are usually based on Prasangas of the Yakshagana plays. The music that plays along with the shows is dramatic and beautifully blends folk and classical elements.
String Puppet of Karnataka is also termed as marionette which is still in existence the state. Made of wood, the puppets of North Karnataka are short and slim in appearance having a pair of legs and hands whereas the puppets of South Karnataka are three feet high but without legs. Some of the puppet troupes have discarded strings and have replaced them with rods for easier manipulation of string puppets.
Being an indispensable element of theatre craft, string puppets are mostly manufactured in Karnataka. Since antiquity the state has been representing the folk tradition and culture through puppetry in which string puppet are the main characters.
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