Originating from Rajasthan, “KATHPUTLI” is a form of string puppetry. It ranks amongst one of the best puppetries in the World.
Kathputli actually is the combination of two Rajasthani words – “Kath” means wood and “Putli” means doll, entirely made of wood. This form of puppetry is believed to be a thousand years old. Performed mostly by the Rajasthani tribes (Bhat community) Kathputli has evolved to become an eternal part of the Rajasthani culture. Almost all cultural gatherings have a segment of Kathputlis.
These dolls are made from the woods of the mango trees and later carved and painted to give them a human look. To match the culture, these Kathputlis are dressed in vibrant Rajasthani clothes and embroidery. Adorned with miniature Kundan sets (traditional jewellery of Rajasthan) they look royal. Female puppets are draped with ghagras ( a long full skirt, often decorated with embroidery, mirrors, or bells) and Rajasthani blouses with a veil to cover their heads. Similarly, males are worn Rajastani dhotis and turbans(called “puggri” in Rajasthani.)
A prominent thing to note for these Kathputlis is that they do not have legs! Strings are attached to their heads and waist to manipulate them and make them dance to the puppeteer’s tune! Rajasthani folk music narrating the Rajasthani tales, ballads and folklores form the background tone.
Even if a lot of Indian culture has lost their glory Kathputli has managed to survive the test of time and this venerable art is still a mandatory ritual in all parts of Rajasthan for any gatherings or festivals.
If you ever visit Rajasthan do not forget to cherish the Kathputli puppetry show!