Kerala Art Forms – Traditional art forms of Kerala

Kerala is a land of arts and festivals. It has everything to entertain the people all over the world.  Most popular traditional art forms of Kerala are Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Chakyar Koothu, Nangiar Koothu, Theyyam, Panchavadyam, Ottamthullal, Padayani, Onapottan, Pulikali, Krishnanattam, Koodiyattam, Kalaripayattu, Pavakathakali, Thirayattam, Shastham Paatu, Ayyappan Vilakku, Chavittunatakom, Duffmuttu, Kakkarissi Natakam, Margomkali, Oppana, Thiruvathirakali, Arjuna Nritham, Kalamezhuthu, Kavadiyattam, Mudiyettu, Paana, Poothanumthirayum, Theeyattu, Tholppavakkoothu, Velakali, Kannyarkali, Kolkali, Kummattikkali, Garudan Thookkam, Sarpam Thullal, Pulluvan Paattu, Yakshagana, Pettathullal, Mappila Paattu, Parichamuttukali, etc.

Kerala is notable for its different types of performing arts. The different networks in Kerala add to its rich and brilliant culture. For tourists who search for something other than what’s expected in this staggering area can investigate the Art Forms of Kerala which are extraordinary and commendable. Kerala has an abundance of social practices and a variety of customary works of art than whatever other express that draws in individuals from everywhere the world, offering a gala of craftsmanship, dance and music for vacationers and workmanship darlings.

Kerala fine arts are something exceptional that assists you with understanding the lively social legacy of the state on a more profound level. Travelers like the cheerful mood of these fine arts just as the astounding difficult work and devotion of the entertainers that have motivated large numbers of them to visit Kerala and become familiar with its customary artistic expressions.

1. Kathakali


Kathakali is a significant type of old style Indian dance. It is a “story play” sort of workmanship, yet one recognized by the extravagantly beautiful make-up, outfits and face veils that the customarily male entertainer artists wear. Kathakali is a Hindu exhibition craftsmanship in the Malayalam-talking southwestern district of Kerala. Popular all throughout the planet, Kathakali’s radiance has won extraordinary profound respect for the territory of Kerala. Pleased that this eminent art from began, was started from Kerala’s shores more than 300 years prior.
Kathakali joins dedication, dramatization, dance, music, ensembles and make up into a heavenly encounter for all who will see it. It retells the extraordinary accounts of the past, generally from Indian sagas, and leaves one enchanted at the different complexities engaged with the presentation. Each and every bunch of the lips, flash of the eyes or a development including the fingers whirling, has incredible importance. The whole exhibition sees the crowd incapable to remove their eyes from the scene occurring in front of an audience. Kathakali is one of the major art forms of Kerala.

2. Mohiniyattam


Mohiniyattam is an Indian classical dance structure that created and stayed mainstream in the territory of Kerala. Mohiniyattam, the female classical performance dance of Kerala, is the dance of the Mohini, the divine magician of Hindu folklore.
The beginning of Mohiniyattom is established in Hindu folklore. Legends says that when the expanse of milk was agitated to extricate the solution of life and interminability, the evil spirits carried off the heavenly blend. Ruler Vishnu acted the hero of the freezing divine beings. Expecting the type of the loving heavenly woman Mohini, he enchanted the evil spirits, took the solution from them and reestablished it to the divine beings.

3. Chakyar Koothu


Chakyar Koothu is a performance art from Kerala, India. It is essentially a sort of profoundly refined talk where the entertainer describes scenes from Hindu sagas and stories from the Puranas.
In Chakyar Koothu the whole story is introduced by a solitary entertainer. The ensembles are that of a court buffoon. Facial make-up is finished with rice powder, turmeric powder and dark powder. He wears an adornment in one ear and a betel leaf in the other. A going with artist plays the percussion instrument Mizhavu behind the scenes.
The features of Chakyar Koothu, is parody, social analysis, humor and related stories or scenes introduced during the performance. In the former times of sovereignty, the Chakyar reserved the privilege to reprimand even the King and his demonstrations while performing. The training was that the crowd ought to pay attention to the Chakyar and acknowledge his reactions. Any resistance to remarks made by the Chakyar while performing would have prompted an end in the performance of the art structure in that premises for ever.

4. Nangiar Koothu

Nangiarkoothu, a branch of Kutiyattam, is an independent presentation with an artifact of 1500 years. Nangyarkoothu is the conventional name of the koothu execution of a female part (Nangiar) of the Chakkiar people group, the koothu entertainers. Like the better-known Chakyarkoothu, one of the most established old style specialties of Kerala, the Nangyarkoothu is likewise introduced in the conventional sanctuary theater, the Koothambalam or Koothupura.
This is a performance dance dramatization for the most part fixated on the legends of Lord Krishna. Stanzas are sung and deciphered through emulate and dance. The mudras however equivalent to in Kutiyattam, are significantly more intricate. Developments, signals and looks which have their starting point in Natyasastra, the composition on theater, composed by Sage Bharatha in the second century BC.

5. Theyyam


Theyyam (Teyyam, Theyam, Theyyattam) is a famous ritual type of dance love in Kerala and Karnataka, India. It envelops dance, emulate and music. It magnifies the convictions of the old tribals who gave a ton of significance to the love of saints and the spirits of their progenitors. The ceremonious dance is joined by the theme of such instruments as Chenda, Elathalam, Kurumkuzal and Veekkuchenda. There are more than 400 separate Theyyams, each with their own music, style and movement. The most conspicuous among these are Raktha Chamundi, Kari Chamundi, Muchilottu Bhagavathi, Wayanadu Kulaven, Gulikan and Pottan.

6. Panchavadyam

Panchavadyam in a real sense meaning a symphony of five instruments, is fundamentally a temple art structure that has advanced in Kerala. It is a popular art forms of Kerala. Of the five instruments, four — timila, maddalam, ilathalam and idakka — have a place with the percussion classification, while the fifth, kombu, is a breeze instrument. It has a pyramid-like mood structure with a continually expanding rhythm combined with a corresponding abatement in the quantity of beats in cycles.

7. Ottamthullal


Ottan Thullal (or Ottamthullal) is a recite-and-dance art form of Kerala. It was introduced in the eighteenth century by Kunchan Nambiar. The folksy performance, often laced with humour intended at criticism of society, is accompanied by a mridangam and/or the handy idakka besides a pair of ilathalam cymbals.
In Ottamthullal, a solo performer, with green makeup and a colourful costume (decorated with a long red and white band and painted wooden ornaments), acts and dances while reciting dance. A chorus or one or more artists repeats each sentence as it is completed.

8. Padayani

Padayani, additionally known Padeni, is a conventional society dance and a ritual art from the focal bit of the Indian province of Kerala. A formal dance including veils, it is an antiquated ritual acted in Bhagavati sanctuaries. The dance is acted out of appreciation for Bhadrakaali. Padayani is a ritual theater art structure identified with the Goddess sanctuaries in the Central Travancore districts of Kerala. Performed around evening time in the sanctuary premises, the rituals of Padayani are an emblematic represent satisfying the Goddess Bhadrakali whose rage stays unabated even after her triumph over the legendary devil, Darikan. The term of the celebrations differs from seven to 28 days as indicated by the quantity of towns participating and coordinating it.

9. Onapottan

The celebration of Onam is set apart by the festival of various sorts of uncommon people and traditional works of art. Onapottan (Onesvaran) is a society character that shows up during the Onam season in North Malabar locale of Kerala. As indicated by folklore, Onam praises the homecoming of King Mahabali when he passes on the underworld and comes to Kerala to visit his ‘subjects’ once consistently. Wearing a headgear and wearing weighty, lively cosmetics, and beautiful outfits, Onapottan addresses King Mahabali and visits houses during the Uthradam and Thiruvonam days of the Onam celebration. He strolls around with a ringer in one hand and a palm leaf umbrella (Olakkuda) in the other and showers his gifts on his ‘subjects’. Onapottan moves to the melodies that portray the beginning of Onam and legend of Mahabali.

10. Pulikali

Pulikkali is a recreational folk art from the state of Kerala. On the fourth day of Onam festival, artists paint their bodies like tigers with stripes of yellow, red and black and dance to the rhythm of traditional percussion instruments such as thakil, udukku and chenda. The main theme of this folk art is tiger hunting with participants playing the role of tiger and hunter. The make-up for the same is applied using oil paints and is said to be extremely hard to remove. Regardless, every year during Onam, the streets of Thrissur (Cultural capital of Kerala) attract people from across the State and the world to view this special event.

11. Krishnanattam

Krishnaattam is a temple art in Kerala. It is a dance dramatization and presents the tale of Krishna in a progression of eight plays and was made by Manaveda (1585–1658 AD), the then Zamorin Raja of Calicut in northern Kerala. The eight plays are: Avataram, Kaliyamardanam, Rasakrida, Kamsavadham, Swayamvaram, Banayuddham, Vividavadham and Swargarohanam.
In Krishnanaattam the narrative of Krishna directly from his introduction to the world to his climb to paradise is introduced in eight parts. In the days of yore, it was acted in eight days. There is no exchange. The entertainers render as per the melodies from foundation. Chengila, maddalam and Elathalam are the going with instruments. The make up and outfits are vivid and dynamic.

12. Koodiyattam

Koodiyattam is a conventional performing art form of Kerala. It is a mix of old Sanskrit theater with components of Koothu, an antiquated performing art from the Sangam period. Kutiyattam (Koodiyattam), which is around 2000 years of age, it is formally perceived by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Customarily, the fundamental instruments utilized in koodiyattam are the mizhavu, kuzhitalam, edakka, kurumkuzhal, and sankhu. Customarily, koodiyattam has been performed by Chakyars (a subcaste of Kerala Hindus) and by Nangyaramma (ladies of the Ambalavasi Nambiar rank). The name “koodiyattam”, which means playing or performing together, is thought to allude to the presence of various entertainers in front of an in audience mood with the thumps of the mizhavu drummers.

13. Kalaripayattu

Kalaripayattu, likewise referred to just as Kalari, is an Indian martial art that started in advanced Kerala. Kalaripayattu is known for its long-standing history inside Indian martial arts.
The preparation starts with an oil back rub of the whole body until it is light-footed and graceful. Accomplishments like chattom (hopping), ottam (running) and marichil (somersault) are additionally vital parts of the art structure. There are likewise exercises in utilizing weapons like blades, knifes, lances, maces, and bows and bolts.
The essential point is a definitive coordination among psyche and body. Another focal point of Kalaripayattu is specialization in native therapeutic practices. Kalaris are likewise significant focuses of strict love. When the course is finished, one ought to participate in oil back rub and practice to keep up with shape.

14. Thirayattam

Thirayattam is a custom performing ethnic art type of the South Malabar area in Kerala to accomplish the effortlessness and gifts from the divinities of the land. It mixes dance, theater, music, parody, facial and body painting, concealing, martial art and formal capacity.
This dynamic art structure has extraordinary similarity to the practices and customs of the old civic establishments; this affirms the conviction that Thirayattam had its starting point some place in these antiquated ages. The social, conventional and social developments in the general public generously affects Thirayattam accomplishing it’s present height.
Customarily the Peruvannan people group has the intrinsic right to play out this radiant art structure in Kaavukal and sanctuaries. Today, the individuals from Panan and Cherumar people group additionally perform Thirayattam. The legends of this art structure are same, yet every local area has their own novel convictions, styles, ensembles and customs for performing Thirayattam.

15. Shastham Paatu

Sastham Pattu is the traditional song detailing the story of Lord Ayyappa. Sabarimala is a famous Lord Ayyappa temple situated high in the hills of Pathanamthitta district in Kerala.

16. Ayyappan Vilakku

Ayyappan Pattu is a custom performed by fans of Lord Ayyappa. Otherwise called Sastha Pattu and Udukupaattu, the pioneers setting out on an excursion to Sabarimala perform Ayappan Pattu in their homes and sanctuaries. The tune starts in the wake of striking a cadenced beat called Ganapati talam on the ‘udukku’. The percussion instrument ‘udukku’ is a little bifacial vessel drum. It is held in the left hand and struck by the right hand. Ilathalam (cymbal) is likewise played.
Ayappan Pattu is luxuriously acted in certain spots and is known as Ayappan vilakku. Enthusiasts order in front of an audience the job of Ayappan and Vavar. War-scenes are likewise organized.

17. Chavittu Natakom

Chavittu Nadakam is a profoundly brilliant Latin Christian traditional art structure started in Ernakulam area, Kerala. Generally accepted that Fort Kochi is the origination of Chavittu Nadakam. Started during seventeenth century C.E. Chavittu Natakam is a mix of music, dance, acting, exchange conveyance, and mood and its pet subjects are Christ, holy people and the historical backdrop of lords.
A phase would be set up utilizing wooden boards. The play gets to the cadence of Pada Thamber and Maravaladi, both percussion instruments, and furthermore based on a content bound with fearlessness. The story creates through a tune. The rhythm rises consistently to an excited pitch through different stages like Varna Mattukal, Virutham, Kavi, Kappu, Thuyarm and Kalithura.
Since the characters were for the most part European rulers, their outfits were exceptionally beautiful with a crown, staff, decorations, fighters bearing weapons and safeguard and so on They took after the Greek and Roman clothing. Artists sing as they enter the stage and it would be trailed by the melody.

18. Duffmuttu

Duffmuttu is an art structure pervasive in the Malabar area of the territories of Kerala and Karnataka in south India (popular among the Muslims of Malabar). It gets its name from the duff, a percussion instrument made of wood and bull skin. The word duff is of Arabic beginning and is additionally called a thappitta.
The artistes beat on a shallow round percussion instrument called the Duffu. The head of the gathering sings the lead, while the others structure the ensemble and move around and around. The tunes are frequently recognitions for martyrs, legends and holy people.

19. Kakkarissi Natakam

Kakkarissi Natakam is a people art form of Kerala, initially from Tamil Nadu. This art form is more famous in the southern locales of Kerala. It is a form of melodic dramatization and the language utilized is a mix of Tamil and Malayalam.
This muscial dance dramatization has an unconventional design. The hero in the majority of the plays is known as Sundara Kakaan. Other than there are different characters like Kakkathis, Vedan and so forth The attractive Sundara Kakaan is the agent of the Kakkala people group (a traveling clan of seers). With dance steps and melodies, they perform in front of an audience. Scenes are ordered with exchanges, music and melodies as in the recent melodic plays. The instruments utilized are Harmonium, Mrudangam, Ganchira and Kaimani.

20. Margamkali

Margamkali is a custom folk art of the Syrian Christians of Kottayam and Thrissur regions. Twelve artists sing and dance around a lit wick light (Nilavilakku), clad in the basic customary white dhoti and donning a peacock feather on the turban to add a bit of shading.
Commonly, twelve artists sing and dance applauding around a Nilavilakku wearing the customary “Chattayum Mundum”. The light addresses Christ and the entertainers his devotees. The presentation is normally held in two parts (“padham”) and starts with tunes and moves portraying the existence of Saint Thomas, the witness. It then, at that point takes a hitting turn with a martial play of artificial blades and safeguards. Margamkali doesn’t utilize any instruments other than two little palm size cymbals played by a similar individual who sings the melody.

21. Oppana

Oppana is a routine performance mainstream among the Muslims of Malabar. It is usually seen at their different merry events like weddings, functions held to proclaim adolescence, etc. Aside from being a part of every single Muslim wedding – what it is most notable for – the Oppana is likewise performed on the event of a Maarkkakalyanam, a Vayassariyikkal, and a Naalppathukali.
The Arabic word Afna is the root word for Oppana. From certain perspectives, the beginnings of Oppana can be followed back to Ishal, a melodic component of the Mappilapaattu, another artistic expression of the Malabari Muslims. There are independent sorts of Oppanas for all kinds of people.
A mainstream form of amusement among the mappila local area of north Kerala. Introduced by and large by the ladies it is a custom loaded with routine. It takes after the Kaikottikkalli rehearsed by ladies in Kerala. However, it has more likeness to the routine custom pervasive in Arabian nations. In this dance form the ladies numbering around fifteen including artists, on a big day, swing their bodies in a dance performance. The lady of the hour wearing all delicacy, covered with gold trimmings and her palms and feet decorated with an unpredictably woven example of mylanchi (henna), sits in the midst of the circle of artists on a high seat called the peetam. While the artists sing they applaud musically and move around the lady in basic advances. A few young ladies will start the melody and soon the remainder of the group participates in tune. The dance goes far into the evening. At times a kind of Oppana called Oppana Chayal is performed that doesn’t include the applauding. The other sort of Oppana will be Oppana Murukkam.

22. Thiruvathirakali

Thiruvathira or Thiruvathirai is a Hindu celebration celebrated in the Indian territories of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Thiruvathirakali or Kaikottikaliis a special dance performed in Kerala on the promising day of Thiruvathira, the birthday of Lord Shiva. It is one of the popular art forms of Kerala It is performed by ladies who look for favors for endless conjugal rapture. It falls in the Malayalam month of Dhanu (December-January). According to Hindu folklore, this dance is the thing that brought Kamadeva (God of Love) back to life when he had been singed to cinders by Lord Shiva’s rage.
Gatherings of up to eight or ten ladies are seen wearing conventional Kerala clothing, moving all around. The agile developments of the dance are both charming and rich. The white saris with vivid lines alongside new jasmines embellishing their hair make for a magnificent sight. Devotion and the force of female energy are the core of this old practice.

23. Kavadiyattam

A custom art identified with Lord Subrahmanian, Kavadiyattam is for the most part conducated a contribution to the Lord. Otherwise called Subramanian Thullal, in Kavadiyattam the entertainer carries on his shoulder a lavish Kavadi (an enormous bow, luxuriously designed with peacock feathers) and will move.
Kavadi utilized for the dance is of various sizes and shapes, each with its own importance. Ambient sound of Panchavadyam, Nagaswarm and so forth is an additional fascination.

24. Theeyattu

Theeyattam or Theeyattu is a particularly old and multihued faction the beginning of which is untraceable in the pages of history.
A customary custom in dance structure theeyattam is performed by the individuals from Theeyaattunni or Thiyaadi Nambiar people group in Kerala. Bhadrakali Theeyattu and Ayyappan Theeyattu are the two sorts of theeyattam.

25. Kolkali

Kolkali is a folk art acted in Malabar area of Kerala. The dance entertainers move all around, striking little sticks and keeping cadence with exceptional advances. The circle grows and contracts as the dance progress. The going with music continuously ascends in pitch and the dance arrives at its peak.
Kolkali starts with Vandanakali. Subramanian and Ganapathy are lauded. This is trailed by different sorts of moves in various beats. It is seen that Kolkali mixes rhythms. The kolkali tunes are blended in with reverential stories portraying local Gods.
Kolkali’s starting points can be followed to the Hindu sanctuaries. The Muslim people group has additionally delivered priceless commitment to this folk art.

26. Kummattikkali

Kummattikkali is a cover dance popular in a portion of the northern regions of Kerala. The artists, wearing painted wooden covers and donning branches of leaves and grass, go out from one house to another. A popular Kummatti character is Thalla or the witch; the others address different Hindu divine beings and goddesses.
Kummattikkali, pervasive in the regions of Palakkad, Trichur and Wayanad, is a society work of art performed during the malayalam long stretches of Makaram and Kumbham. In certain spots it is considered as amusement program, particularly during the Onam season.

27. Garudan Thookkam

Garudan Thookkam is a custom art structure acted in certain Kali sanctuaries in some Central Kerala regions in south India. Individuals who take on the appearance of Garuda play out the dance. After the dance execution, the hang-assign hang from a shaft snaring the skin on his back.
It is well known in Bhadrakali sanctuaries arranged in Kottayam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Idukki areas of Kerala. This custom art is celebrated for its grand cosmetics, energetic ensembles and radiant headgear that turns normal individuals to superb entertainers.

28. Pulluvan Paattu

Pulluvan Pattu is a formal song sung by a local area called pulluvar who are of low ranks. The tunes are identified with snake love, custom, custom and expulsion and customarily it is of the conviction that pulluvan local area can peruse terrible signs and recommend approaches to eliminate the impacts of Bad signs. The pulluvar of Kerala are firmly associated with snakes. They consider the snake divine beings their managing gods and perform forfeits and sing tunes.
The name Pulluvan started from the name of a bird called bird of Omen whose cry is considered as foreboding and this local area can foresee from the sound of these birds. The pulluvan pattu is firmly associated with the snake revering and they consider the snake divine beings as their managing god and play out specific ceremonies, for example, pulluvan pattu. The instruments utilized for this tune are a one stringed violin called as Pulluvan veena and earthen pot with a string connected to it called the Pulluvan Kutam.

29. Parichamuttukali

Parichamuttu Kali is an Indian martial-arts dance type of Kerala rehearsed by the Saint Thomas Syrian Christians who follow their beginnings to the evangelistic action of Thomas the Apostle in the first century. It is performed by men bearing swords and safeguards and follows the developments and steps of Kalarippayattu.
A gathering dance performed basically by men bearing swords and safeguards, this artistic expression is famous among Christians, Muslims and Hindus in Kerala.
The gathering comprises of ten people is going by a pioneer considered Asan around whom the remainder of the artists perform. The artists are generally wearing a white undergarment with red wrist-groups and sing in tune as they dance.
The Asan sing songs to the rings of a chime. Melodic backup is confined to ilathalam and the noise made by the musical applauding of swords and safeguards.
The beginning of the Parichamuttukali among Christians can be followed back to fifty years. Furthermore, can be find that it was existed in various Christian people group like – Knanaya, Syro Malabar, Jacobite Malankara, Marthoma, Lathin and Dalit-Christians.
Steps like that of Kalaripayattu, the military craft of Kerala, can be seen in Parichamuttukali. Christians play out this during chapel celebration and songs identified with the tale of Christ are utilized for execution.
Among Muslims the songs utilized for execution are Mappila Songs or Mappilappattu.

30. Tholppavakkoothu

Tholppavakkoothu, in a real sense signifying ‘cowhide manikin play’, is a ritual art performed during the yearly celebrations in the Kaali sanctuaries of Palakkad area. The topic of the play depends on the Kamba Ramayana, described in a style that is a combination of Malayalam and Tamil persuasive varieties. The play covers the entire range of occasions from Lord Sree Rama’s introduction to the world to his crowning celebration as the King of Ayodhya. The shadow play is introduced in the ‘Koothumadam’, an uncommonly built elliptical play house on the sanctuary premises. The manikins are designed out of the stows away of wild oxen and deer, the previous for malicious characters and last for respectable ones.

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