Pavakathakali – A glove puppetry that draws inspiration from Kathakali

As per historians Pavakathakali  was born in the 18th century


Image Source: Eric Meslay (

It is been assumed that Pavakathakali was born in the 18th century

As per historians Pavakathakali (glove puppet kathakali) was born in the 18th century. In other words around 100 years after the blossoming of Kathakali. Puppets dressed in kathakali costumes and adopt the themes of the attakatha, the stage interpretations of the drama. In addition Pavakathakali performers are from the Andipandaram community belong to a small number of families from the Paruthippuly village in Palakkad. A usual puppet Pavakathakali measure 40 to 60 cm in height.

Firstly the finely sculpted arms and head of the puppets connects by thick cotton knots on a small bag. Secondly the puppets are very colorful, small metallic golden ornaments, adorned with fine, cowrie shells, gemstones, peacock, coral, feathers etc. The puppeteer places his hand in the bag and manipulates the puppet’s arms with the thumb and middle finger and moves the head with the index. For instance, in the past, Pavakathakali performances did not need the construction of a stage or podium. The group of puppeteers went from house to house, to entertain especially the women and children. And would set themselves up in the courtyard. Meanwhile such itinerant performers arrived in the ancestral homes, the hosts took care of their needs for the performances generated much excitement in children.

Likewise during Kathakali a nilavilaku (copper lamp) is lit in the courtyard, the puppeteers sit on the ground and start the performance. There is no barrier between the puppeteers and the spectators.

A puppeteer artist with Pavakathakali

Image Source: Eric Meslay (

Here a video reference of the art form

Mayesh Babu