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Kutiyattam

Kutiyattam, a highly stylised ancient theatre form South India, is the only surviving Sanskrit theatre.

It is a perfect form of total theatre. The actor-dancers express themselves through the use of voice, recitation, movement and hand gestures (mudras), creating a complex language where the use of the eyes are fundamental.

It is the only case of Indian theatre forms where female roles are represented by women, especially in the related solo performance, called Nangiarkoothu. The actresses while enacting the different characters of a story also represent male characters.

In 2001 Kutiyattam has been declared by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity which resulted in an increased interest for the art form on an international level.

Nangiarkoothu, an offspring of Kutiyattam, is a female solo performance. It is traditionally performed by Nangiar women who belong to the Nambiar community. They are part of the Ambalavasi castes whose occupation is related to the temples.

Until a few decades back, Nangiarkoothu was only based on the story of Krishna (Sri Krishna Charitham), but with the recent generation of artists new works have been included in the repertory. This includes themes which do not belong to the tradition of Kutiyattam.

Putana Moksham, the liberation of Putana, is one of the episodes of Sri Krishna Charitham. This classic piece of Nangiarkoothu is one of the most popular performances.