(Last Updated on : 04/03/2010)
Pusta is an important aspect of aharyabhinaya in Indian theatre. Pusta refers to an object which is prepared after binding different things together. According to the Natyashastra
, there are three forms of Pusta. These are sandhima (joined), vyajima (indicating) and vestita (wrapped).
Different articles are joined together with the help of bamboos covered with mat, skin or cloth to make a sandhima. Rocks, carriages, chariots, aerial cars, horses and elephants are thus represented on the stage. When objects are made to work by mechanical resources the term vyajima is used. Abhinavagupta states that things on the stage were made to move by pulling a thread from behind the curtain. For instance, if a movement of an aerial car or a chariot is to be portrayed, it would be done by preparing frames of objects with pieces of bamboo and then by covering them with painted cloth, palm products, mats, bees wax, lac and sheets of mica and be pulled from behind the curtain. Certain other things used on the stage were arranged by covering cloth only (vestita) or by movements only. The earthen toy cart in Mricchakatika and the moving chariot in Abhijnanasakuntalam
are instances of the vyajima Pusta. Puppets could be made to move about or dance by mechanical arrangements. A puppet impersonating Sita is actually introduced in the Balaramayana.
The seats for characters on the stage are essential for the representation of different beings in a play. Gods, kings and chief queens used to sit on thrones (lion-seat). Seats of cane were allocated to ministers, priests and their wives. The commanders of the army, crown princes and the wives of the king other than the chief queen occupied seats called mundasana i.e. a chair without arms. Wooden seats were meant for Brahmanas. Princes used woolen seats or carpets. Seats of wood or skin were assigned to women of the household. The seats for ascetics were according to the rules of the orders they belonged to. Those observing vows were given cane sit and the rest were made to seat on the ground.
Weapons of different kinds were used in the presentation of plays. According to the Natyashastra, weapons and armours should be proportionate to the stature of actors and actresses. Bharata speaks of five varieties of spears: prasa, sula, tomara, kunta and bhindi. Out of these five types of spears, the prasa, sula and the tomara were hurled at the opponent while the kunta and bhindi were not. The Natyashastra prescribes that no missile should be released on the stage and no weapons should strike anyone. Weapons should be used only to make gestures of an attack and should simply touch a spot. The basic conception was to create an illusion rather than to represent real things. A variety of weapons described in Sanskrit dramas can easily be represented by means of bamboos covered with cloth according to the shape and size of the weapons.