Indian tradition and religion has had a significant influence on leather-puppetry, this has been evident from its mention in the two great Hindu epics- the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Puppetry have been an integral cherished part of the craft of Southern India, which have later been shared with Indonesia. The legacy of this craft can be traced back to 2000 years ago to an ancient folk world. The art form offers a splendid history of the region. A consistent triangular relationship exists between the words often used in this art form of leather-puppetry “Killekyatha” and “Bangarakka”. These two were well known communities of Karnataka a few decades ago. Origins of the tribes can be traced back to the pre-historic times. The process of making has been documented in Nimmalakunta.
Vegetable colours were earlier used but photo colours are now used as these colours are readily available. The puppet sizes range from 3 inches to about 6 feet. They are used as shadow puppets. In Nimmalakunta about 60 families are engaged in this craft. They depict stories related to the Hindu Mythology such as Ramayana and Mahabharata . The puppets are heavily decorated. The theatres where these puppet shows are performed are known as Tolubommalata. These artisans migrated from Maharashtra to Andhra Pradesh during the Maratha rule. The themes are mostly based on mythological epics like Satisulodhana and Dasavatra.
Documented by Antony William, NID R&D Campus, Bangalore