Thullal Dance is one of the popular dances of Kerala. There are a number of arts and crafts practiced in Kerala, including dance, martial arts, and ritual arts. The dance forms of Kerala bear the legacy of the traditional art and craft of Kerala.One of the classical performing arts of Kerala, Thullal dance of Kerala is worth a watch on your tour to Kerala. The word 'Thullal' means 'Caper' or 'to leap or jump about playfully'. This art form emerged in the eighteenth century. A solo performance combining both dance and recitation, thullal is the explication of a tale - normally drawn from the puranas, narrated in verse. Kunchan Nambiar, renowned poet of the eighteenth century, first introduced this art form. A solo performance, thullal is a tale narrated in verse. The thullal performer sings and he is supported by another singer who repeats the verses and is accompanied by an orchestra of mridangam, harmonium and cymbals. The performer through the classical acting techniques, portrays the various characters in an episode and does the narration.The themes are based on mythology. This satiric art form was introduced in the18th century by the renowned poet Kunchan Nambiar. Humour, satire and social criticism are the hallmarks of Thullal.The language is straightforward Malayalam, the simple diction of the common man. Various classical dace forms and folk have been combined to create an experience enjoyable to the masses. The music is rich in beats and the dancer is accompanied by 2 percussionists- a cymbalist and a maddalam player. The cymbalist repeats the Thullakaran's (dancer's) lines for a dramatic effect.The make up, though simple, is very much akin to that of Kathakali. The dance is performed in the compound of a temple or the courtyard of a house, as no formal stage is used for the performance.

The face is painted with yellow arsenic mixed with blue. The eyes are blackened and lips reddened. The full painting of the face is retained for the expressive advantage. The dancer wears a breast-plate adorned with golden pearls, necklaces and colourful tassels. The white waist clothes resemble skirts. The head-gear is small, made of light wood, studded with bright stones and decorated with golden paper. The bracelets, amulets and waistlets are almost the same as inKathakali.Three forms of thullal - Ottan Thullal, Parayan Thullal and Seethankan Thullal, evolved in course of time. The three forms are differentiated on the basis of make-up, styles of narrative singing, rhythms of dancing and foot work. Of the three Ottan Thullal is the most popular.It is a colorful spectacle to watch women in their carefree mood. The event continues amidst jeers and laughter till the day comes to its end.The performer takes up the role of detached narrator and yet gives an impassioned performance to the same lyrics the very next instant. The dance performance is spangled with pieces of vigorous footwork.



Kunchan Nambiar (1705 – 1770) hailed from Killikurissi Mangalam in Palakkad district, The story Kunjan Nambiar presented was a familiar one, the Kalyaanasaugandhikam from the Mahabhaaratha, but he clothed it with his own words. The Chaakiaar momentarity defeated, was silent, but later took his revenge by persuading the ruler, the Raja of Ambalapuzha, to forbid Kunjan Nambiar from performing or visiting there again.


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